Ceci Maher

State Senator

Ceci Maher

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together For Our Communities

February 29, 2024
If passed, testimony would ease stressful period for families undergoing behavioral health crisis

Today, the Committee on Children and State Senator Ceci Maher (D-Wilton), Senate Chair of the committee, held a public hearing on proposed legislation including Senate Bill 217, “An Act Implementing A Universal Patient Intake Form For Recipients Of Behavioral Health Services For Children,” a priority bill for Sen. Maher in this year’s legislative session. Among the testimony they heard were comments by Ridgefield’s Alisa Trachtenberg, who last year met with Sen. Maher to discuss this issue. If passed, this bill would aid families with children experiencing mental or behavioral health crisis.

Senate Bill 217 would create a working group to study the idea of developing a universal patient intake form for patients of behavioral health service providers by their parents or caregivers. The working group would study the potential of creating one comprehensive form to collect patient health and medical history, conditions and concerns for which treatment is being sought and any other questions that could provide crucial information to health services. Upon the completion of this task force by the end of 2024, as the bill is currently written, such a form would be implemented beginning in July 2025.

Trachtenberg, the founder of Ridgefield CT Pride, testified that her child has received behavioral health services for much of their life and has experienced “how burdensome and inefficient the intake procedure is,” with “mounds of repetitive paperwork” and agencies unable to transfer basic information between intakes. She said that getting children the help they need should not be as difficult as it is today, but a universal intake form would streamline the application process and relieve stress from already-stressed parents and guardians, speeding up critical services in the process.

The proposed legislation came together through Sen. Maher‘s desire to help families whose children are experiencing crisis, already a challenging time, by reducing the stress and distraction that different organizations’ disparate paperwork causes. A universal form that provides needed information quicker and connects patients with care, allowing parents to focus on supporting and caring for their children, would prevent gaps in care and support families in their time of need.

Additional testimony in support of Senate Bill 217 included the National Alliance on Mental Illness Connecticut, which argued that “streamlining the process for parents looking to receive behavioral health services for children is simply basic common sense for both the parents as well as the providers.”

Jaime Rodriguez, the advocacy chair for the Connecticut Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, also testified in support of the legislation, noting that developing such a form “will ease the beginning stage of care for provider, patient and family,” noting it would expand consistency of patient information through clear documentation and collaboration between all mental health providers involved in a child’s treatment over time.

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