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Proposed Connecticut Bill Mandates Mental Health Assessments for Homeschooled Children

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Proposed Connecticut Bill Mandates Mental Health Assessments for Homeschooled Children

 


Hartford, Connecticut – A national homeschooling organization is sounding the alarm against a bill proposed in the Connecticut legislature which would require both public school and homeschooled children to undergo a behavioral health assessment at various stages of child development.

Bill 374, proposed in the General Assembly by sponsors Senator Toni Harp and Representative Toni Walker, is likely in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, which took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults this past December. Some believe that the incident could have been better prevented should there have been sufficient mental health assistance for gunman Adam Lanza, and therefore, the women are seeking to ensure that today’s youth are screened throughout their adolescence for any concerning behavioral problems.

Harp, who serves as the chairman of the Connecticut mental health task force, recently told reporters that while she does not want children to be stigmatized over the matter, she feels that lawmakers need to see how to better care for the mental well-being of youth in order to prevent another tragedy.

“The concern we have is that increasing stigma will mitigate against treatment,” she explained. “What we are doing is looking at our own mental health delivery system to see what the gaps are … in case there was some sort of relationship [between mental illness and Adam Lanza's actions].”

Therefore, the bill that Harp and Walker have introduced to the state legislature seeks to have all children regularly analyzed by a health care provider. It reads, “An Act Requiring Behavioral Health Assessments for Children. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened: 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.”

While some do not see reason for concern over the bill, others believe that the requirement would be too intrusive for families. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association recently sent out a call to action over the matter, requesting that citizens contact their representatives to urge them to strike the bill down.

“Proposed Bill 374 would essentially authorize the state to conduct regular social services investigations of homeschooling families without any basis to do so,” outlines senior counsel Dee Black. “These assessments would be conducted by an unspecified health care provider and would be conducted even though there was no indication whatsoever that these children had a behavioral problem. The bill states that the results of the assessments are to be disclosed only to the child’s parent or guardian, but that the health care provider must submit a form to the State Board of Education verifying that the child has received the assessment.”

“According to the Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership, a state organization made up of the Department of Children and Families, Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and others, a behavioral health assessment is quite comprehensive and invasive,” he continued. “It includes ‘a review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, employment, level of function in different domains including family situation and behavior in the community.’”

“This assessment would constitute an unwarranted, gross invasion of family privacy,” Black said. “This bill should be opposed.”

Other organizations such as National Home Education Legal Defense are monitoring the legislation, but are not as concerned as they state that it is too early too tell what the requirements of the bill will entail.

“NHELD does recommend that all parents should be aware, and keep track of, proposed Senate Bill 374,” stated executive director and attorney Deborah Stevenson. “[However,] 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.”

“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,” she said. “While anything is always possible, right now it is only a proposed bill — that is, an idea that is written down.”

The bill is stated to currently be before the legislature’s Public Health Committee for consideration.

by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:19 PM
Replies (11-20):
kameka
by Bronze Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:32 PM
The bill states that the assessments are for both public and home schooled kids.

OP: I'd have to look into it more but I would be fine with it, especially if it includes learning disorders. My health insurance doesn't cover evaluations and because of that we have been struggling with my oldest's anxiety and possible SPD. If kids could be evaluated and the parents told "he's showing some signs of dyslexia/autism/anxiety, might want to get that checked out" I'd be good.


Quoting tooptimistic:


Public school children have mental health assessments?


Quoting The_Doodle:

I don't see why the article is talking like homeschooled children are being singled out when they actually would have less assessments required than public school children.




Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
eema.gray
by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:33 PM
1 mom liked this

Will this apply to ALL school age children, regardless of school setting?  Will private secular and religious schools have to comply, in addtion to public/homeschool kids?  Will it matter if the school receives federal or state funds?  What happens if something problematic shows up in this regular exams?  What sort of intervention will take place and how much right/responsibility will their parents have to determine an appropriate course of treatment?  And, most importantly, who gonna pay for the exams and possible treatments?

tooptimistic
by Kelly on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:33 PM


My son is autisitc and has spd. We didn't need a mandate  to know to get him evaluated and get him therapy.

Are you ok with the government screening him?  What about HIPPA

Quoting kameka:

The bill states that the assessments are for both public and home schooled kids.

OP: I'd have to look into it more but I would be fine with it, especially if it includes learning disorders. My health insurance doesn't cover evaluations and because of that we have been struggling with my oldest's anxiety and possible SPD. If kids could be evaluated and the parents told "he's showing some signs of dyslexia/autism/anxiety, might want to get that checked out" I'd be good.


Quoting tooptimistic:


Public school children have mental health assessments?


Quoting The_Doodle:

I don't see why the article is talking like homeschooled children are being singled out when they actually would have less assessments required than public school children.






The_Doodle
by Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:34 PM


Not that I know of, but the bill description in the article states that public school children would have assessments at grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 and homeschool children would have them at ages 12, 14, and 17.

Quoting tooptimistic:


Public school children have mental health assessments?

Quoting The_Doodle:

I don't see why the article is talking like homeschooled children are being singled out when they actually would have less assessments required than public school children.





tooptimistic
by Kelly on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Sorry I missed that.


Quoting The_Doodle:


Not that I know of, but the bill description in the article states that public school children would have assessments at grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 and homeschool children would have them at ages 12, 14, and 17.

Quoting tooptimistic:


Public school children have mental health assessments?

Quoting The_Doodle:

I don't see why the article is talking like homeschooled children are being singled out when they actually would have less assessments required than public school children.







kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:38 PM
2 moms liked this

Only if they start demanding the same of public school students.  Have you seen the numbers on depression and suicide in public school?  It's somewhere around 20%.  That's 1 in 5 public school teenagers experiencing chronic depression.  And they want to start by looking at homeschooled kids?

I went back and looked, and it does appear that public school students will be assessed as well, so as long as it is on both sides of the spectrum, then I suppose that I can accept it.  I don't like it.  I am taking my kid out of public school because it is failing him.  Why should I have to prove that the environment I choose for him is acceptable?  It's not the government's business.

eema.gray
by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:41 PM

What about private secular or religious schools?  Typically, they argue they don't have to comply because they don't receive federal/state funding.  But homeschool kids also don't get federal/state funding so if homeschool kids have to, then what happens with the private schools?  All that will happen, if private schools do not have to comply, is that parents who don't want their kids tested will put them in private schools, or get their homes declared private schools, so they don't have to do testing and what good does that do, in the long run?


Quoting The_Doodle:


Not that I know of, but the bill description in the article states that public school children would have assessments at grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 and homeschool children would have them at ages 12, 14, and 17.

Quoting tooptimistic:


Public school children have mental health assessments?

Quoting The_Doodle:

I don't see why the article is talking like homeschooled children are being singled out when they actually would have less assessments required than public school children.







"I am only one, but I am still one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." ~~ Edward Everett Hale 1822-1909
masonmomma
by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Sounds like its public and home schooled children. On one hand, I think its fine, not agree but don't really see a problem with it. One the other hand, does that mean that they will start forcing treatments? I guess my issue with it would be more what happens after the assessment. Overall, I wouldn't support this.

kameka
by Bronze Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:42 PM
1 mom liked this
Really not the point.

I'm glad you realized early but some kids are not so obvious and some parents are not as informed.
My first real boyfriend wasn't diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and dysgraphia until he was 16. He struggled in school, was written off as a bad kid and settled into drug abuse (he's been clean for 2 years now). His mother fought for him but most people just assumed she needed to crack down on him more. If he had been evaluated by an unbiased expert at a young age, I can't imagine the different path his life would have taken.


Quoting tooptimistic:


My son is autisitc and has spd. We didn't need a mandate  to know to get him evaluated and get him therapy.

Are you ok with the government screening him?  What about HIPPA


Quoting kameka:

The bill states that the assessments are for both public and home schooled kids.



OP: I'd have to look into it more but I would be fine with it, especially if it includes learning disorders. My health insurance doesn't cover evaluations and because of that we have been struggling with my oldest's anxiety and possible SPD. If kids could be evaluated and the parents told "he's showing some signs of dyslexia/autism/anxiety, might want to get that checked out" I'd be good.




Quoting tooptimistic:


Public school children have mental health assessments?



Quoting The_Doodle:

I don't see why the article is talking like homeschooled children are being singled out when they actually would have less assessments required than public school children.








Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
autodidact
by Platinum Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:43 PM
1 mom liked this

my thought is NO. this is one of the reasons I homeschool. I read years ago about big pharma pushing for this kind of testing for ALL kids, to "find out what meds they might need" 

glad I'm not in CT




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