April 2015

Office of The Child Advocate
A monthly newsletter to keep you informed.

Eliminating Unnecessary Restraint & Seclusion of Children in Schools

OCA issued an investigative report in February, 2015 regarding the over-reliance on restraint and seclusion for young children with disabilities in school settings.  The report contains numerous recommendations for reform, including better resources to help support children in all areas of development from an early age, greater oversight and accountability for the use of these potentially harmful practices, and statutory changes to ensure state law conforms to best practices and federal guidance. For a copy of OCA's report see:



If you have concerns about a child who is being restrained or secluded, please contact OCA at 800-994-0939.  


OCA Responds to Calls for Help

Daily, OCA hears from families, providers and youth seeking help for a child in need.  OCA responds to all callers with advice, referral, and information about the family or child's rights and entitlements.  OCA opens approximately 10 to 15% of calls for direct, child-specific advocacy.  Issues to which OCA has responded in the past 3 months include:

  • A young child with intellectual and other developmental disabilities struggling to be discharged from hospital care to the community;
  • A preschool age child whose family needed help accessing specialized education supports;
  • A mother looking for intensive, extended school year services for her child with disabilities;
  • A young, undocumented child with unmet mental health and education needs.

If you are concerned about a child in need, please call OCA at 800-994-0939 and speak with an assistant child advocate.  



Tips for Families & Advocates
A child with a disability who is receiving special education services is entitled to extended school year services (services that go beyond the 10 month academic calendar) that are necessary to allow the child to continue making progress with the general education curriculum.  The scope and duration of extended school year services  cannot, as a matter of law, be limited automatically to the scope and duration of summer school.   What each child needs in terms of summer programming must be based on an  individualized assessment  and children remain entitled to services in the  least restrictive environment,  even during summer session.


For a tip sheet on a child's right to individualized extended school year services, please see this publication from the Connecticut State Department of Education:



Community Outreach & Education
  • OCA responds to requests for training and community education on a regular basis.  In January, OCA helped train juvenile court personnel and child welfare professionals regarding meeting the educational needs of children in foster care.  For more information on closing the achievement gap for children in state care, contact sarah.eagan@ct.gov
  • In February, OCA presented to the state's Keep the Promise Children's Coalition regarding the results of OCA's investigation in statewide practices of restraint and seclusion. 
  • In February, OCA presented the QPR, "Question, Persuade, Refer" emergency response protocol for suicide prevention to the Child Fatality Review Panel.  For further information on QPR, please visit http://www.qprinstitute.com or contact faith.voswinkel@ct.gov


Legislative Advocacy

OCA testifies regularly regarding urgent children's issues before the Connecticut General Assembly.  Thus far in the 2015 legislative session, OCA has testified on juvenile sentencing reform, the needs of children exposed to domestic violence, transparency and accountability for state-run and state-contracted juvenile justice facilities, reducing usage of restraint and seclusion in schools, health insurance coverage for mental health conditions, and prohibiting suspension and expulsion for the state's youngest students, promoting safe sleep practices and other child fatality prevention efforts.  To read OCA's testimony, see: 



If you have any questions regarding OCA's legislative testimony, please contact Child Advocate Sarah Eagan at 800-994-0939 or sarah.eagan@ct.gov.