Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

April 8, 2021

Senator Anwar Joins Governor Lamont, Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz in East Windsor to Discuss the Importance of Supporting Children’s Mental Health

EAST WINDSOR – Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) joined state officials and leaders including Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Department of Children and Families Commissioner Vanessa Dorantes and East Windsor First Selectman Jason Bowsza to tour the Alfred J. Solnit Children’s Center in East Windsor with Dr. Brett Rayford, interim superintendent of the center. The leaders extolled the benefits the center provides for children including teaching them business and entrepreneurship skills, also assisting children through troubling and traumatic experiences from their pasts and assisting them to achieve a better future.

“It’s truly heartwarming to be here this morning to highlight something we should all be proud of: in our state, we are taking care of our vulnerable young boys in this facility in a manner other parts of the world should see what we’re able to do,” said Sen. Anwar, who is Senate Chair of the Children’s Committee. “We have to identify ways of strengthening this and making sure the DCF’s work gets more resources and can be expanded. Everyone knows the challenges young boys and girls are having during the pandemic; we have a way to address some of them, and in severe cases, there is a comprehensive strategy in place to benefit their wellbeing and ability to sustain themselves through jobs and opportunities in the future. As the co-chair of the Children’s Committee, this is absolutely something we need to further strengthen.”

“Children’s centers and rehabilitative therapy don’t tell the story of what we saw in there,” Governor Lamont said after touring the center. “I saw a place that says ‘we love you’ to each and every one of those kids, ‘you’re special, we love you and we’re going to find out what you love, give you that opportunity so you can shine.’ I saw kids so proud that they were on their way to become champion chefs, describing their favorite food they enjoy. One of them is starting to do some car detailing and said my black governor’s car is starting to look dull, and they can bring some pizazz to it, and I took that to heart. If you have young children, think about visiting and taking advantage of the great resources here. Connecticut loves its kids, and I was reminded of that every step of the way.”

“We’re so happy to be here to highlight the great work that’s going on at the Children’s Center,” said Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz. “Every child is unique and every child faces different challenges, and those challenges have become more significant during the pandemic. It’s up to all of us to make sure every child has the opportunity to thrive. We are here today to see the learning opportunities and environments that nurture kids, primarily boys between the ages of 13 and 17, and we have the opportunity to see how kids with complex needs learn new things, the programs benefitting them and the many things kids can learn while they’re here. We even had the opportunity to meet a staff member who used the Heimlich maneuver to save the life of someone while they were choking. This is an incredible staff who do great work for our kids.”

“We’re a psychiatric residential treatment facility, working with boys ages 13-17 who come to us with complex backgrounds with histories of trauma, psychosis, depression or anxiety, and we have a talented team of people who create a holding environment for those young people, not only treating their psychiatric needs but the whole person and the entire family that young person lives in,” said Dr. Rayford. “We have individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy and milieu therapy and showcased one of our more focused treatments, called sensory immersion, for the Governor. The work we do here is really powerful thanks to our dedicated staff. In addition to the treatment, we educate these young men and develop their work ethic through a very intensive vocational training program, with several youth businesses where the young men learn to work and earn money that they save, also learning how to keep a small business running. It’s with great pleasure we welcome the Governor and his team to see how Connecticut maintains great treatment.”

“To have the chair of the Children’s Committee here and see this wonderful facility is a way for us to emphasize the standards of care we expect for children in Connecticut,” said Commissioner Dorantes. “Children’s behavioral health is something we have to pay attention to. Outside of the pandemic, we understand children have unique needs that sometimes can’t be met in an adult system. In the pandemic, we know the social isolation and the separation from friends and usual routines have left children needing additional support. The boys here have been here throughout the pandemic and understand the need for wraparound services to make sure they’re OK. In Connecticut, we’re committed to the mental health needs of all children and the standards they need.”