Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

25.4 Mental Health Hospitalization

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 25-APS Court
25.4 Mental Health Hospitalization

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Legal Authority/Introduction


Any person may bring a petition for involuntary hospitalization in District court.  While DCBS staff have no statutorily mandated role in the filing of a petition for involuntary hospitalization, the SSW may file a petition in compliance with KRS Chapter 202A or KRS Chapter 202B if an adult refuses to obtain treatment, no other person is available and willing to provide assistance and file a petition and all other resources are unavailable.


When filing a petition for involuntary hospitalization the SSW:

  1. Conducts a utilization review with an FSOS and SRA or designee to obtain Obtains prior approval to file the petition; from the Service Region Administrator or designee;
  2. Files the petition in the county of employment as a “Representative of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services;” and
  3. Seeks assistance from law enforcement when the protective service situation indicates an immediate danger to the SSW, the adult or others.

Practice Guidance

  • The criteria for involuntary hospitalization of persons who have mental illness are:
    • The adult is mentally ill;
    • The adult is a danger or threat of danger to self or others as a result of the mental illness;
    • The adult can reasonably benefit from treatment; and
    • Hospitalization is the least restrictive intervention.


  • The criteria for involuntary hospitalization of persons who are mentally developmentally disabled are:
    • The adult is an individual with an intellectual disability;
    • Presents a danger or threat of danger to self or others;
    • The least restrictive alternative mode of treatment presently available requires placement in an ICF/ID; and
    • May reasonably benefit from treatment in the hospital or ICF/ID residential treatment center.


  • The SSW must consider the provisions of L.C. & E.W. v Olmstead when considering assistance concerning involuntary hospitalization. 
  • Olmstead requires all staff who work with institutionalized persons or those at risk of institutionalization to:
    • Consider the way services are delivered to an individual;
    • Ensure that service delivery promotes the individual’s independence and self determination; and
    • Reconsider policies that promote institutional placements rather than more integrated service settings.


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