September 2015

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

OCA Reports: State Must Improve Conditions of Confinement for Youth at Connecticut Juvenile Training School and Pueblo Units
On July 22, OCA released a public report investigating whistleblower complaints about conditions of confinement for girls and boys confined by the state at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and Pueblo Unit.  OCA's reported concerns regarding inadequate suicide prevention, inadequate crisis management for youth with mental health disorders, inadequate support for staff working with traumatized youth, and a lack of reporting regarding outcomes for youth confined by the state.
OCA continues to advocate for more effective and evidence-based interventions for our neediest youth.  
For a copy of OCA's findings and recommendations for reform, please see

Reminder: New Laws to Reduce Restraint and Seclusion, Suspension and Expulsion of Children in Schools
OCA strongly supported new laws passed by our Connecticut legislature that will help our children with special needs stay in school and access the education they need.
  1. Public Act 15-141: Eliminating Unnecessary Restraint and Seclusion of Children in School.  The new state law bans the use of seclusion except to respond to an emergency where a youth presents a threat to himself or others.  The law also bans the use of prone restraint, provides additional training for school employees, and requires careful monitoring and planning for children subject to repeat restraint and seclusion.                                                                            For a copy of this new law, please see:
  2. Public Act 15-96: Eliminating Suspension and Expulsion for Children in Preschool and Grades Kindergarten to Two.  The new state law provides that except for limited emergencies where a child presents a significant risk of harm, a school may not suspend or expel a student under the age of 7.  This new law was passed to address the ongoing problem of frequent exclusionary discipline for our youngest children. 
Help for Children with Special Needs
OCA continues to receive calls on a daily basis from concerned citizens and family members looking to help a child in need.  OCA is particularly concerned about children with developmental disabilities and mental health needs who cannot access appropriate care in the least restrictive environment. 

OCA is working actively with state leaders to devise an action plan that will continue to address the crisis of unmet needs for our most vulnerable children and their families. 

If you have a question about any child with special needs who cannot access appropriate care, please call the Office of the Child Advocate at 860 566 2106.  

If you are being denied access to appropriate health or mental health care for your child, please call the Office of the Health Care Advocate, at 866 466 4446. 
Tips for Families and Advocates

Q.  My 7 year old is a bright, loving boy who loves to tell stories and play with his siblings.  Unfortunately, school is a nightmare.  I am always getting calls to come and pick him up early because he can't behave and keeps running out of the classroom.  I don't know what else to do.  He doesn't have this problem at home, but I am scared of losing my job and I need more help for my son. 

A.  A school may not continue to ask a parent/guardian to pick up a child from school in lieu of providing appropriate supports.  These "pick up calls" should be considered "school removals," the equivalent of an undocumented suspension.  Schools also have a "child find" obligation to identify children who may have a learning disability that is interfering with their ability to learn and make progress in school.  The law says that a district's "child find obligation" is triggered by one of several red flags, including a child struggling academically or behaviorally.  The school should conduct, with the parent's permission, a meeting to review any screens or evaluations that the child may need and any individualized support or instruction the child may need, academically or behaviorally, to make more progress in school.  Any child who is struggling like this child is should have a parent-school team meeting to evaluate any special needs the child may have and address those needs immediately.

For more support for parents and guardians of children with special needs, you can contact:
The Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center (CPAC) at:  860 739-3089 or
Or the State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education at 860 713 6910.  

OCA In The Community, Outreach and Training
OCA is a key partner presenting the 3rd Annual Conference of the Connecticut Restraint and Seclusion Prevention Initiative Partnership on September 11, 2015 at CCSU. For more information on this important conference please click here:

Recently, OCA provided training to lawyers new to representing abused and neglected children. OCA encourages attorneys representing children with complex needs to call OCA with questions or concerns regarding needed services and supports for their clients. 

OCA also presented at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-sponsored educational event Pearls of Wellness-Mental Health Matters held at Hartford Hospital's Education Resource Center on July 23, 2015. 

In July, 2015 OCA produced a public health flyer promoting safety for children this summer.  The flyer was designed to be broadly disseminated and can be found here:    

If you have a need for a training or presentation to benefit children and families, please contact the OCA at 860 566 2106.