Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

February 25, 2022

Senator Anwar Leads Joint Public Hearing on Children’s Mental Health

Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor), Senate Chair of the Children’s Committee and Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, led a joint public hearing between the two committees regarding important legislative proposals introduced to support and improve children’s mental health in Connecticut. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as one in six children in the United States had mental health disorders, with the pandemic itself only worsening mental health outcomes in children.

“Our children’s health, both mental and physical, is vital to their development and well-being, and we must do all we can to protect and help them,” said Sen. Anwar. “I’m encouraged that this legislation improves how our state provides for, nurtures and supports our future generations and look forward to championing these causes.”

Senate Bill 2, “An Act Expanding Preschool and Mental and Behavioral Services For Children,” seeks to address the pandemics impact on depression, anxiety and developmental delays through expanding support services. Its major points of emphasis include:

  • Extending access to child care and preschool
  • Increasing access to mentoring and after-school programs to better reach disengaged or struggling students
  • Providing greater supports and resources for children and adolescents disconnected from school
  • Universal pre-kindergarten starting at age 3 to provide important social and individual growth for all children
  • Furthering social-emotional learning by involving parents in new methods of education; children with highly involved parents see enhanced social functioning, fewer behavioral problems
  • Joining PSYPACT to allow out-of-state psychologists to conduct telehealth and in-person practice across state boundaries to meet increased need

House Bill 5001, “An Act Concerning Children’s Mental Health,” is similarly designed to improve the availability and provision of mental, behavioral and substance disorder treatment services to children. Its major points of emphasis include:

  • Ensuring adequate levels of social workers in the state by temporarily waiving examination requirements, as long as an individual continues to be supervised
  • Expanding regional behavioral health consultation programs to include the pediatric patients of providers, including allowing telehealth mental health appointments for children
  • Extending telehealth expansions from 2023 to 2024
  • Adoption and implementation of a truancy intervention model accounting for mental and behavioral health, including providing notice to parents or guardians of children of mental and behavioral health screening services and tools, as well as evaluations of truant children to monitor for behavioral health concerns
  • Public safety answering points shall have licensed behavioral, mental health and substance use disorder services to provide aid to 911 callers in need, including referring such callers to providers of services or outside agencies to provide aid
  • Increasing the number of mental health facility beds in the state by June 2026
  • By 2021, the Office of Emergency Medical Services would develop protocols for transporting pediatric patients with mental or behavioral health needs by ambulance to an urgent care center operated by the Department of Children and Families