January 31, 2024
The inequities faced by at-risk children and youth, and their resilience, inspire our 2024 goals and legislative priorities. This year we ask you to follow our work as we fight to protect and promote the legal rights of Connecticut’s low-income children and youth so they have equitable opportunities for good health, a quality education, and a successful transition to adulthood.
In 2024 CCA’s key priorities include:
- promoting health equity by expanding HUSKY health insurance to cover undocumented youth through age 18,
- implementing mediation programs in child welfare cases to reduce racial disparities,
- securing passage of legislation to remove minors from adult prisons, and
- advocating for kids facing homelessness and for kids living in housing that is harming their well-being.
CCA’s 2024 Legislative Priorities
After 26 years, CCA’s determination to fight for the legal rights of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children is stronger than ever. Our connection with youth and vital community providers gives us the unique perspective of identifying issues that at-risk children and youth face in their daily lives. This year we will use that knowledge to advocate for legislation with the potential to positively affect thousands of children and youth around the state.
CCA’s attorneys are leading efforts to ensure youth involved with the juvenile justice system have their rights protected and opportunities to get back on the right track. This year we will advocate for the removal of minors from the Department of Corrections custody and and fight for legislation that will help youth get juvenile records erased and the chance for a fresh start. CCA will continue to Co-Chair the Reentry Subcommittee of the Connecticut Legislature’s Juvenile Justice and Policy Oversight Committee, advocating for legislation increasing funding for credible messengers and other mentors and ensuring youth who are released have access to a job or a job training program. For more information contact the Director of CCA’s Youth Justice Project, Marisa Halm.
Building off our success from last year’s work to ensure older youth in foster care will retain access to their attorneys if they remain with DCF after turning 18, we will advocate for legislation codifying the compensation of attorneys for youth in DCF care over 18. For more information, contact the Director of CCA’s Child Welfare Advocacy Project, Stacy Schleif.
Two years after the groundbreaking Settlement Agreement in the historic Connecticut civil rights case, Sheff v. O’Neill, CCA will continue ensuring Hartford students will have access to an equitable education by securing legislative changes related to the state funding for the Sheff v. O’Neill Agreement. For more information, contact CCA Executive Director Martha Stone.
In collaboration with its partners, CCA will advocate for legislation designed to increase educational success and equity. These legislative initiatives include:
- School Climate Assessment legislation that holds school systems accountable for the results of climate surveys and ensures data is captured regarding LGBTQ+ youth and bullying.
- Legislation that addresses the needs of the increased number of children who will be in the preschool system following the change in the law moving the Kindergarten age cutoff date to September 1.
- Advocacy in partnership with the Social Emotional Learning Climate Committee for the development of a uniform bullying complaint form and the removal of questions around discipline from Connecticut college applications.
For more information, contact the Director of CCA’s Yale Child Study Center, Medical-Legal Partnership Project, Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer.
CCA will partner with organizations and lead different initiatives concerning youth homelessness. These initiatives include securing access to primary health and dental care for unaccompanied homeless minors and resolving housing issues for LGBTQ+ youth. For more information contact Deputy Director and Director of CCA’s Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project, Stacey Violante Cote.
Building on our multi-year campaign in partnership with the Husky 4 Immigrants coalition and our healthcare partners, CCA will follow up on our successful advocacy that expanded HUSKY for undocumented youth through age 15 and advocate to expand HUSKY for undocumented youth ages 16 through 18. For more information, contact the Director of CCA’s Disability Rights, Medical-Legal Partnership Project, Bonnie Roswig.
CCA in the Community
CCA’s Youth: Speak Up!
CCA’s Speak Up Project teaches youth about systemic issues related to juvenile justice, trains them in advocacy skills, and supports them as they participate in meetings of the Connecticut Legislature’s Juvenile Justice and Policy Oversight Committee (JJPOC), where they bring the voice of youth from impacted communities and provide valuable input into the JJPOC’s 2024 legislative recommendations. For more information, contact CCA’s Speak Up Coordinator, Stella Rose.
CCA’s Utility Clinics: Keeping the Power On
Last November, CCA held its first in-person Utility Clinic in Bridgeport since the COVID-19 pandemic began, at the Child and Family Guidance Center. Led by CCA attorney Bonnie Roswig, Pro Bono volunteers and energy providers worked with clients to help them better understand their utility bills and enroll clients in the most affordable payment plan to ensure their lights and heat remain on throughout the colder months. In the coming months, we are planning more utility clinics around the state to ensure families don’t lose utility service due to unpaid, unaffordable arrearages when the shutoff moratorium ends on May 2nd. For more information, contact Bonnie Roswig.
CCA’s National Partnerships: Helping College Students with Disabilities Succeed
In partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, CCA held an in-person seminar at Quinnipiac University for 179 attorneys and administrators from public and private colleges in Connecticut. The training covered the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Fair Housing Act, as well as working with students with mental health and behavioral health disabilities, reasonable accommodation policies, and emotional support and service animal policies. For more information, contact Bonnie Roswig.
CCA’s Board Chairman’s Thought Leadership for Equity
CCA’s Board Chairman, Claude Mayo, presented at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ (NASPA) Racial Equity and Social Change Conference in December. The NASPA Racial Equity and Social Change Conference, formerly the NASPA Multicultural Insititute, provides space for thought leaders and practitioners to share ideas, strategies, and evidence-based research about advancing our collective work to create more equitable and just campuses and communities. His session – You’ve Got MAIL — focused on the importance of Multicultural Academic Integrity Liaisons (MAIL). Great work, Claude!
CCA’s Annual Holiday Gift Drive
Each fall, CCA organizes a holiday gift drive with community partners to ensure our clients have presents to open for the holidays. We were delighted to partner with the Lillian Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford and the four University of Connecticut School of Law Journals to share in the spirit of the season. 58 children and youth received gifts for the holidays this past year, and we are extremely grateful.
CCA’s Flagship Event: Spring for Kids 2024
We are excited to announce Spring for Kids 2024 will take place on Thursday, June 20th, in the Yard Goats Club at Dunkin’ Park! We hope you will save the date and join us, as we honor our 2024 Champions of Children and our 2024 Sustainability Partner, and share CCA’s impact through the voices of the children and youth we work and advocate for!
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