Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

March 9, 2021

Key Senate Legislation Protecting Children and Enhancing State Systems Receives Public Hearing

Today, one of Senate Democrats’ foremost priorities for this legislative session, a key piece of legislation providing overhauls in social equity, health, safety and education of children, received a public hearing in the Children’s Committee. State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor), a sponsor of the bill and Senate Chair of the Children’s Committee, led discussion and heard testimony from members of the public about the benefits such increased access to resources would provide for youths across the state.

“Hearing from members of the public about the direct differences this legislation will make for the lives of their children – and from children themselves, talking about how their lives could benefit – only reinforces its importance,” said Sen. Anwar. “Children deserve to live in an equitable world, and we would be remiss if we did not consider their safety, health and education in building and assessing that world. I will champion this legislation until it’s sworn into law because I believe in our children receiving every opportunity and having every resource they can to succeed.”

Senate Bill 2, “An Act Concerning Social Equity and the Health, Safety and Education of Children,” is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that aims to provide increased protections for children in mental health response assistance, in-school care, the Department of Children and Families and overall child wellness. Many of its protections are responses to issues seen during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Its changes would include:

In mental health:

  • Establish a youth suicide prevention training program
  • Require certain licensed health care professionals including physician assistants, behavior analysts and EMTs to undergo mental health and suicide screening/prevention training
  • Permit minors to receive more than six outpatient mental health treatment sessions without parental/guardian consent
  • Require local and regional boards of education to permit up to four mental health wellness days per school year

In school care:

  • Require boards of education to integrate social-emotional learning in professional development programs and educational goal statements
  • Permit parents to virtually attend parent-teacher conferences, even post-pandemic, and require parent-teacher conferences during remote-education school sessions
  • Require teachers to ask students about safety, mental health and food insecurity during virtual learning periods, proactively providing resources that may otherwise be unavailable
  • Require boards of education to provide remote high school instruction, prohibiting boards from deeming a remote-attending student from being deemed absent
  • Require collection of adverse childhood experiences data by boards of education and the Department of Education

In the Department of Children and Families:

  • Require the Commissioner of Children and Families to provide children in state custody remote visitation opportunities if a disease outbreak occurs.
  • Require the Commissioner to develop policies requiring end of in-person visitation case-by-case if such visitation could result in spread of disease
  • Expand the DCF telephone Careline to receive information about child abuse or neglect by text message, especially important given the potential danger of making a verbal call in close quarters
  • Require the Commissioner to give notice to parents and guardians if a child is considered for removal from a home, making sure parents and families understand through meetings

In overall child wellness:

  • Require the Commissioner of Early Childhood to develop and implement a plan to expand birth-to-three programs, expanding the age of care before termination to five years old
  • Require the Commissioner of Education to establish a grant program for internet access during remote school sessions
  • Launch the Whole Child Initiative, a tax force to study comprehensive needs of children in Connecticut