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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 (21-30):
SWasson
by Bronze Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:55 PM

This seems perfectly reasonable to me. I'm very wary of homeschooling families who fear that getting their children a psych assessment every few years would be an intrusion on their crazy, isolationist bubbles.

AutymsMommy
by Silver Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

What about private schools that receive no public/government funding?

In our state (and in many/most) homeschools are operated as private schools and, like private schools, receive no government funding.

I am a Home Schooling, Vaccinating, Non spanking, Nightmare Cuddling, Dessert Giving, Bedtime Kissing, Book Reading, Stay at Home Mom. I believe in the benefit of organized after school activities and nosy, involved parents. I believe in spoiling my children. I believe that I have seen the village and I do not want it anywhere near my children. Now for the controversial stuff: we have traditional gender roles, we're Catholic, I'm Libertarian, he's Republican, we're both conservative, and we own guns (now there's no need to ask, lol).             Aimee














eema.gray
by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 1:59 PM

I asked the same question a little bit ago.  I'd very much like to know how private schools would be handled.


Quoting AutymsMommy:

What about private schools that receive no public/government funding?

In our state (and in many/most) homeschools are operated as private schools and, like private schools, receive no government funding.



"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
AutymsMommy
by Silver Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:00 PM
3 moms liked this


So you're completely fine with government mandated psych evals across the board (in public schools, maybe daycares next, etc)?

Because the government has proven that they know best, right? Lol.

Quoting SWasson:

This seems perfectly reasonable to me. I'm very wary of homeschooling families who fear that getting their children a psych assessment every few years would be an intrusion on their crazy, isolationist bubbles.



I am a Home Schooling, Vaccinating, Non spanking, Nightmare Cuddling, Dessert Giving, Bedtime Kissing, Book Reading, Stay at Home Mom. I believe in the benefit of organized after school activities and nosy, involved parents. I believe in spoiling my children. I believe that I have seen the village and I do not want it anywhere near my children. Now for the controversial stuff: we have traditional gender roles, we're Catholic, I'm Libertarian, he's Republican, we're both conservative, and we own guns (now there's no need to ask, lol).             Aimee














coolmommy2x
by Silver Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM
I don't know what I think but IF it finds mental issues that can be helped or nipped in the bud, that's not a bad thing IMO.
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pamelax3
by Gold Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:07 PM
4 moms liked this

No way would I support this! You start labeling children at a young age with a mental illness that will ruin the rest of their lives with a misdiagnosis.. People need to stop trying to put a medical term to kids that act up, I understand mental illness is a problem in this country but this is not the way to go about it.

autodidact
by Platinum Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:11 PM


wow, that's a whole lot of assumption

Quoting SWasson:

This seems perfectly reasonable to me. I'm very wary of homeschooling families who fear that getting their children a psych assessment every few years would be an intrusion on their crazy, isolationist bubbles.






autodidact
by Platinum Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:12 PM

right, so any kid who draws a gun can be medicated to the gills. lovely.

micheledo
by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:16 PM
What is the point? It seems like the problem isn't awareness (for the family) of mental illness, but of getting treatment. This seems like a pointless, costly program. So, they identify kids with possible mental problems and tel ltheir parents. How is taht supposed t odo anything?

The parents who care to do something will already be aware of the problem and getting help. With others ,it isn't going to make a difference. And why have these kid son some government list? Only a very small percentage are dangerous?
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TCgirlatheart
by TC on Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:16 PM
I guess I can see where a trained teacher may catch an issue before a parent can, as some can be in denial or just not observant.
However, I also think all school aged children, and families would benefit from this kind of assessment.
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