CT legislators push for more mental health support for kids

Sen. Ceci Maher, center, talking to a voter in Westport. Maher supports Senate Bill 2, which would offer more mental health services for kids, protections for libraries and more. (Mark Pazniokas, CTMirror.org)

State lawmakers are confident that Senate Bill 2, which has passed out of the Committee on Children, will continue to build upon previous legislation that ensures the general well-being of Connecticut youth.

The bill contains several measures that cover protections for public libraries and expand requirements that certain information about kids’ education and child care be provided in Spanish. It also aims to help more children get enrolled in HUSKY and continue work that began last session to provide mental health support for kids.

“It’s all about access to services and a continuum of care,” said Sen. Ceci Maher, D-Darien, who serves as co-chair on the Committee on Children.

The bill covers a few of the major issues that children’s committee leadership said they wanted to tackle this session. Members also pushed measures that would encourage safe storage of cannabis products and create a police sting operations unit to address online sexual abuse of minors. The committee has no more scheduled meetings this session.

Maher identified the key components of the 22-page bill as:

  • Reducing the cost of licensing and renewal fees for social workers;
  • Providing a Spanish speaking service coordinator for English language learner students who have special needs;
  • Providing behavior health advocates to help serve uninsured populations, or when there’s problems with insurance;
  • Adding Medicaid reimbursement for suicide risk assessments;
  • Giving free mental health evaluations at school-based health centers;
  • Creating sanctuary libraries.

A public hearing on Feb. 24, which lasted for more than five hours, showed vast support for the bill. But there’s still room for changes, Maher said.

“I heard from the libraries that they want to sit down with us and talk a little bit about the wording so we make sure that we get this right,” Maher said. “We did hear from people about wanting the [Department of Social Services] to hire temporary and part-time employees to collaborate with nonprofit organizations to identify children who aren’t enrolled in the HUSKY health program.”

Beyond taking public comment into consideration, the Committee on Children’s ranking member, Sen. Lisa Seminara, R-Avon, said the discussion will remain “ongoing” among lawmakers.

“There is a lot to like in the legislation,” Seminara said, especially highlighting the changes to school-based mental health services and making it easier for social workers to renew their licenses.

“There are, however, questions regarding whether the funds that would be expended by this legislation could be more efficiently used to bolster current state services,” Seminara said. “The bottom line is we all share the goal of strengthening mental, physical and emotional wellness for children. We just need to continue working collaboratively to put out the best possible final product.”


10 responses to “CT legislators push for more mental health support for kids”

  1. Alexandrea Kemeny

    Sexually explicit books and Pornography should be included in our tax payer funded libraries? Douglas Lord , president of Ct. library Ass. says “Learning and discussion can help challenging topics be understood”? Are you kidding? Fire that guy with no moral fiber in his body! People need to speak up and stop this insanity!!!Anyone who knows children knows that these impressionable young minds are not developmentally able to handle this kind of information. When will the pendulum swing back from these people put in charge of breaking down our society? I beg parents to get involved! Take back the innocence of our children. We are the people funding this. Don’t be afraid!

  2. Johnny cardamone

    I support most of these initiatives however, library should not be turned into pornographic perversion centers! Kids already have enough stuff thrown at them from the communist Chinese tick-tock, perversion brainwashing and seduction of our American youth!

  3. Bryan Meek

    The kids section in our library had no math books but it has been a sanctuary one for some time now. PS every time someone goes to the library it costs us $10. That’s 300,000 visits on a $3 million budget roughly. That should rise significantly once the lease on the parking lot expires.

  4. John O’Neill

    When Westporters start opening their beaches and schools to Black and Brown People I will take those like Ceci seriously. Until then, let’s not waste our time.

  5. Nora King

    Alex – Spot on. What is wrong with these people?

  6. David Walenczyk

    John O. – As a point of reference EVERY beach along the entire state of Connecticut is open to all people regardless of color etc. Parking at every beach is not free for non-residents and as local towns and municipalities pay for the upkeep of their parks and beaches it is reasonable that parking fees assist in funding these operations. As parking is limited at many local town beaches associated parking fees and parking access is given priority to residents who fund the operation and upkeep of said beaches. Your comments about Westport’s beaches being closed to black and brown people is false, misleading, and out of context with regard to the article to which you commented.

  7. David Muccigrosso

    @David – It’s also misleading to pretend that insane $70+ parking fees aren’t exclusionary. Try again.

  8. steve balazs

    From 7th thru 12th grade I was a terrible student. I rarely brought a book home and maybe read one assigned book but I did find my brother’s copy of “Go Ask Alice”, somehow got my hands on Vincent Bugliosi’s book “Helter Skelter”, my mother’s book “Fear of Flying” by Erica Jong, and a scandalous bio book about Janis Joplin, “Going down with Janis”. I was btw the ages of 13 and 15 and loved the titillating adult themes. Helter Skelter was around 500 pages and fueled my interest in law. I later became an Assistant District Attorney. The stories discussed drug addiction, sex and in some cases Rock n Roll-and they kept me rapt. I don’t think I’m worse for the wear for having read them and most importantly, they kept me reading when I was showing my teenage angst and rebelling against authority. My sense is that anyone who’s taking a book out of a library is by that very act on a good trajectory. My sensibilities are bothered by some of the graphic novels that are now issued, but are they harming kids? I doubt it- and are they helping young people navigate life- probably—and probably way more than 1/2 the stuff they see on the internet.

  9. David Walenczyk

    @David M. Should a resident not be able to park at their local town beach which they pay to maintain via local tax dollars so non-residents can park there? Compo beach for example has very limited parking and there were times in the recent past when the lots were completely full. This is why the town raised parking fees for non-residents and limited daily passes. Not to be exclusionary but to give local residents “first dibs” on limited parking. This isn’t reasonable? Let’s not assign ulterior motives to practical matters.

  10. Niz Judia

    I think kids need exercise, healthful diet and nutrition, time in nature, contribution & services, relationships, recreation, relaxation & stress management, and a relationship with God.

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