Committee on Children
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A COMPREHENSIVE CHILDREN'S MENTAL, EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PLAN.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Committee on Children
REASONS FOR BILL:
To codify the formation of a board to advise all entities responsible for the implementation of a comprehensive health plan submitted to the General Assembly as a part of requirements of Public Act 13-178.
***Substitute language as contained in LCO # 4712, clarifies role of advisory board to advise, eliminates ex-officio status of some members, changes meeting requirement from monthly to quarterly and adds representation from the Commission on Children.***
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Department of Children and Families: DCF supports implementing provisions within the plan, but has concerns. These concerns include language changes regarding the board's context and authorization, a request for a termination date for the board and a reduction in the frequency of meetings, and finally concerns regarding unbudgeted fiscal and administrative resources that may be required for the board.
Elaine Zimmerman, Executive Director, Commission on Children: There is a lack of services for mental health throughout the state. She testified on the need to focus on improved coordination between schools, communities and families, as well as improving programs and increasing professional development.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Abby Anderson, CT Juvenile Justice Alliance: Expressed a willingness to serve on the board if asked. Detailed the connection between mental health and juvenile justice issues.
Traci Cipriano, Connecticut Psychological Association: Stated the bill is a critical towards addressing the lack of solidarity amongst mental health services for children across Connecticut.
CT Association for Infant Mental Health: The association provided recommendations to the committee to enhance the bill. Their recommendations included policies to address early childhood mental health and treatment, ensuring developmentally appropriate treatments and their relationship with their caregiver, screening for and addressing parental challenges, developing a separate early childhood mental health system, and providing finances to expand early childhood mental health intervention.
CT Conference of Municipalities: CCM requested representation on the Children's Mental, Emotional and Behavior Health Plan Implementation Board as well as appointing a local official to the board.
CT Hospital Association: The association believes this bill will provide a great opportunity to align policy with systems that support children and families to promote healthy development.
JoAnn Eaccarino, CT Association of School Based Health Centers: Highlighted the importance of School Based Health Services in the bill. Improving the status of SBHSs across the state will provide immediate mental health intervention and safety for students without significant barriers or time delays.
Elizabeth Fraser, Connecticut Association for Human Services: Noted recommendations including having early care professionals on the advisory board, as well as supporting the additional recommendations provided in the testimony of the CT Association for Infant Mental Health.
Merrill Gay, Executive Director, Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance: Cited the financial impact of early intervention and screening for mental health. The cited study suggested savings between $30,000 and $100,000 related to academic and social service expenses compared to children who are not diagnosed before kindergarten.
Stephen Karp, The National Association of Social Workers, Connecticut Chapter: Respectfully requests a clinical social worker who deals with children be a part of the board. Their testimony also raised questions regarding the authority of the DCF commissioner appointing a number of board members rather than the legislature.
Susan Kelley, National Alliance on Mental Illness of CT: Believes this bill will provide meaningful improvement to children's behavior health associated with the health plan. As with other testifiers, NAMI has reservations over the selection of several advisory board appointees by the DCF Commissioner instead of the legislature.
Darcy Lowell, MD, Child First: Notes the plan has provided a significant level of effort and focus on workforce development for those who deal directly with children. They also believe specific mechanisms will be advanced through implementation of this plan that will improve core support functions for children family members.
Michelle Piccerillo, CT Youth Services Association: Passage of this bill would be essential towards addressing these issues and ensure the success of preventing long-term health issues for children with mental, emotional, or behavioral problems.
Richard Porth, CEO, United Way of CT: Bill would progress Connecticut's goals of meeting the mental health needs of children across the state.
Ann R. Smith, Executive Director, African Caribbean American Parents of Children with Disabilities, Inc.: This bill would significantly close the gap of access to healthcare and developmental services for children across the state of Connecticut.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Maureen A. O'Neill-Davis, Torrington, CT: Provided a personal narrative of their family's experiences with DCF. In their opinion, DMHAS, DDS, and DSS Commissioners would be better suited to appointing specific advisory board members than the DCF commissioner.
Reported by: Steve Jones, Assistant Clerk
Alessandra Burgett, Clerk