The 2010 session of the Connecticut General Assembly produced a variety of legislation affecting children and families. Below you'll find summaries of the bills, organized by subject area. Click on the bill's title to read the text of the bill and its history.
Important legislation of the just-concluded 2010 General Assembly session was the subject of a panel discussion at the May 11 meeting of the Commission on Children.
Along with board members, participants included Senator Rob Kane of Watertown; Representatives Beth Bye of West Hartford, Gary Holder-Winfield of New Haven, and Diana Urban of West Hartford; Anne Foley, senior policy advisor, Office of Policy and Management; George Coleman, deputy commissioner, state Department of Education; Sherry Linton, policy analyst, Connecticut Association of Human Services; Gwen Samuel, chair, State of Black Connecticut Alliance; and Lucy Nolan, executive director, End Hunger Connecticut!
The meeting was recorded by the Connecticut the CT-N website. Length: 2 hours.
This bill would make Connecticut the first state in the nation to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of children harmed by the economic downturn.
It would require that whenever the state unemployment rate reached 8 percent or higher, a leadership team from across state agencies would meet regularly to create a unified government response to such matters as hunger and homelessness.
The legislation also seeks to improve the delivery of services to the families who need them by requiring state agencies to develop a single, streamlined application process for services like food stamps, the Care4Kids child-care program, unemployment, and medical assistance and insurance. This would not only simplify the application process for needy residents but make state government more efficient and cost-effective.
Further, the bill would require state agencies to do everything possible to secure the federal dollars available to them. The bill would also:
This bill would make numerous changes to state education laws, but perhaps most importantly it would require school boards with low-achieving schools to create school governance councils made up mostly of students' parents or guardians. The councils would be empowered to, among other things, advise the principal on the school budget before it is submitted to the superintendent, interview candidates to fill principal vacancies, and vote to reconstitute low-achieving schools using models included in the bill.
Such a council would have to indicate which reorganization model it preferred from a list of three choices in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, two choices in state law, and any other choice to be developed later under NCLB. The bill provides a process for making the choice; the local board of education would have to accept it or choose an alternative. If the council and the local board make different choices, the education commissioner would have to pick one to implement.
The bill would also require the State Department of Education (SDE) to report periodically to the legislature's Education Committee on the progress of the reconstituted schools and school governance councils. It would also transfer the Parent Trust Fund from the Department of Social Services (DSS) to the SDE, allow the Fund to receive state money, and require the education commissioner, rather than DSS, to use the fund to improve parental involvement.
Further, the bill would:
The bill would also make a number of changes to charter schools laws including: eliminating a requirement that, when SBE issues charters for state and local charter schools, it does so only within available appropriations; requiring SBE to waive enrollment limits for charter schools whose students show a record of achievement, if the school applies for a waiver; making the charter school facility grant program permanent; requiring teachers first employed by a charter school on or after July 1, 2010 to participate in the Teachers' Retirement System; and requiring SBE to regulate charter management organizations and their relationships to charter schools.
Regarding certification for administrators and superintendents, the bill would require SDE to review and approve proposals for school administrator alternate route to certification (ARC) programs according to criteria the bill specifies and any other criteria the department requires, and gives the education commissioner additional criteria to waive the requirement that a school superintendent hold a superintendent certificate issued by the SBE, if a waiver is requested by the superintendent's employing board of education and the applicant has three years of experience in, and holds a certificate from, another state.
The bill would permit the school board of a priority school district to convert an existing school or establish a new school as an "innovation school" through agreements with the teacher and administrator unions at the school for the purpose of improving school performance and student achievement. By law, the education commissioner must identify low-achieving schools for reconstitution. The bill would add innovation schools to the specific reconstitution models the commissioner may choose for such schools.
The bill would allow teachers and administrators who had tenure in another school district in Connecticut or out-of-state and who take a job in a priority school district to attain tenure in the new district in half the usual time, i.e. , after working 10 months rather than 20 months in the priority school district. It would also allow retired teachers to teach any subject, not just a shortage subject, in a priority school district for up to two consecutive years at full salary without loss of pension benefits.
The bill would also allow the entities eligible for state funding to provide professional development services, technical assistance, and evaluation activities to local and regional boards of education, state charter schools, vocational-technical schools, school readiness providers, and other educational entities, as the determined by the education commissioner.
This bill would create a presumption that in cases where the Department of Children and Families (DCF) places a child in out-of-home care under an emergency, temporary custody, or commitment order, it is in the best interests of the child that he or she continue attending their current school.
The bill would apply to all school-age children, 3- to 5-year olds determined eligible for special education, and children aged 27 months through age five referred for special education determination. It would mechanisms for parents to challenge DCF decisions, and it would make DCF responsible for some costs of transporting a child from a placement to school and makes a school ineligible to receive state special education excess cost grants for a child placed in another community who continues to attend his or her original school.
This bill requires coaches of intramural and interscholastic athletics to complete annual training on how to recognize concussions and understand the dangers of them. It also requires that student athletes get medical clearance before returning to athletic activity after sustaining a concussion or head injury.
This bill would make prostitution a crime only for people age 16 and older. Under current law, prostitution is a crime regardless of the offender's age. The bill would create a presumption that a 16- or 17-year-old charged with prostitution was coerced into committing the offense by another person in violation of the law against trafficking in persons (CGS § 53a-192a). The penalty for promoting prostitution using a person who is less than 18 years old would increase to a Class B felony, with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of nine months.
This bill specifies a process that permits a new mother to use the Department of Children and Families' (DCF) Safe Haven Program to surrender her infant without having to leave the hospital. It also provides for reporting information about the birth to the Department of Public Health (DPH); weakens the law's confidentiality provisions; and requires DCF to notify any parent of a surrendered infant, if it knows his or her identity, of any legal proceedings it initiates, such as termination of parental rights.
This bill provides that in a prosecution for felony possession of child pornography, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant's acts, if proven, would constitute certain acts of sexting or other electronic transmission or possession of child pornography by persons 13 to 15 years old (for transmission) or 13 to 17 years old (for possession), as outlined below.
The bill creates a new class A misdemeanor offense for such acts, and outlines two ways to violate its provisions. In either case, the recipient must be 13 to 17 years old, and the sender must be 13 to 15 years old and be the subject of the depiction. The bill applies the same definitions of "child pornography" and "visual depiction" as apply for the current law on felony child pornography and related offenses.
By law, persons convicted of felony possession of child pornography may have to register as sex offenders. Such persons also face potentially longer periods of probation than those convicted for most other felonies. These conditions would not apply to persons convicted of the misdemeanor offense created by the bill. Under the bill, the existing affirmative defenses for felony possession of child pornography also apply to the misdemeanor offense created by the bill. By law, class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $ 2,000, or both.
This bill would make two changes in the administration of the Care4Kids program, which provides child care subsidies to low-income working families. First, it would require program eligibility to be re-determined every eight months--instead of every six months--and the Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioner to report whether this extended eligibility period causes more benefit overpayments. Second, the bill would require DSS to post notices on its website and send written notices to child care providers and recipients whenever it intends to make program changes, including those related to eligibility and access.
This bill requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to adopt regulations establishing physical plant requirements for licensed child day care centers and licensed group day care homes that exclusively serve school-age children. In doing so, DPH must consider those located in private or public school buildings. The bill requires DPH to implement policies and procedures while in the process of adopting these regulations. Current law allows child day care centers and group day care homes located in a public school building to apply to DPH for a variance from any of the physical plant requirements specified in regulations.
This bill would bring in millions of federal dollars under the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund. It specifically allows the state to share a portion of the new federal revenues with non-profit organizations that have received and/or will receive increased private-sector funding for TANF related purposes. It would establish a nonprofit entity to serve as the fiscal entity to disburse the revenues to the non-profits. It is the product of the Governor's Task Force created to maximize funding under the federal TANF Emergency Contingency Fund.