The National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD) – Bulletin #74 responds to Connecticut's Senate Bill 374 – An act requiring behavorial mental health assessments for children. Deborah Stevenson offered information and caution regarding this bill in the Public Health Committee with two sponsors.
Below is part of NHELD's response: CT Proposed Legislation Regarding Children’s Mental Health Assessment:
The bill does not specify anything about allowing any social services agency to become involved in your child's healthcare. It simply states that the fact that an assessment was done will be provided to the State Department of Education. While anything is always possible, right now it is only a proposed bill – that is, an idea that is written down. We don't know what the final language of the bill will look like, or whether it will be voted on in committee, or on the floor of the House or Senate. We need to be careful in how we approach anyone about this at this time.
Right now, it remains simply as a proposed bill, with only two sponsors: Rep. Toni Walker, and Senator Toni Harp. Before a bill becomes a law, after it is proposed, it must go through a screening process whereby legislative leaders determine whether it should be raised before the appropriate committee. In this case, the bill has been referred to the Public Health Committee. It is in the screening process at this point. The bill cannot go any further unless the appropriate committee acts upon it at one of its meetings. If the committee does not act on it, the bill dies. The first action the committee could take would be to place it on its agenda to determine if it will be scheduled for a public hearing. After the public hearing, the committee meets to vote on whether it will get approved to go further for action on the floor of the House and the Senate. If it gets a "joint favorable" vote in the committee, then the bill is placed on the calendar of the House and Senate and the leadership then determines when to call the bill for a vote on the floor of the House and Senate. At any point in this process, the bill also could be amended. If the leadership does not call the bill for a vote, the bill dies.
Deborah also adds: If the leadership deem this to be a worthy bill to be placed on the agenda at the committee meeting, the Chairmen of the committee and the Legislative Commissioner's office then can re-write the bill. So we don't know yet if the bill will get on the agenda or what the final language of the bill will be. We certainly will be watching what happens and will advise accordingly.
SB 374 states:
"AN ACT REQUIRING BEHAVIORAL HEALTH ASSESSMENTS FOR CHILDREN.
That section 10-206 of the general statutes be amended to require (1) each pupil enrolled in public school at grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 and each home-schooled child at ages 12, 14 and 17 to have a confidential behavioral health assessment, the results of which shall be disclosed only to the child's parent or guardian, and (2) each health care provider performing a child's behavioral health assessment to complete the appropriate form supplied by the State Board of Education verifying that the child has received the assessment.
More from NHELD regarding Mental Health Assessments
More from Home Education Magazine's Taking Charge column by Larry and Susan Kaseman:
Increased Mental Health Screening? Are You Crazy!?!
ht to: Consent of the Governed