Health Equity

HUSKY health insurance was expanded to cover low-income children through 15 years old, regardless of immigration status. For more information, contact Jay Siclick

Child Welfare Reform

Youth who have grown up in DCF care will be able to continue to have a court-appointed attorney for their DCF case after they turn 18. Watch CCA’s video about why this legislation is so important. For more information, contact Stacy Schleif.

Juvenile Justice Reform

Youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system will receive services and interventions that are developmentally appropriate and are designed to help them learn the educational, vocational, and social-emotional skills that can help them avoid future justice system involvement. For more information on the JJPOC juvenile justice legislation, contact Martha Stone. 

Educational Equity

Students who are English Language Learners will have their educational rights spelled out by the State in an English Language Learner Bill of Rights. For more information contact Stacey Violante Cote. 

School Climate

Schools will make changes to ensure they are safe, supportive learning environments, to improve student engagement and educational achievement. For more information, contact Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer.


CCA led an advocacy effort with its partners in 2022 that resulted in new legislation expanding Connecticut’s HUSKY program to provide health insurance to undocumented low-income children. In 2021, the advocacy of CCA and its partners had resulted in HUSKY coverage for children up through 8 years of age, and in 2022, the coalition’s advocacy further expanded HUSKY coverage, for children up through 12 years of age. This new health insurance access will dramatically increase children’s access to health care, and reduce families’ financial hardship due to expensive medical bills. 

CCA collaborated with other advocacy groups to successfully advocate for new legislation, Public Act 22-49, that lowers the acceptable level of lead in housing units from 20 to 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL), bringing Connecticut in line with federal guidelines on lead levels in housing. Lead poisoning is the most common pediatric public health problem, disproportionately impacting low-income children and youth who live in older housing stock, yet it is entirely preventable.  

Public Act 22-29: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2022/act/pa/pdf/2022PA-00049-R00HB-05045-PA.pdf 

Recognizing CCA’s critical leadership role in protecting low-income families from utility shutoff, the Connecticut Legislature passed a law, Public Act No. 22-105, that expanded membership in the State’s Low-Income Energy Advisory Board and specifically named CCA to a position on the Board.  

Public Act No. 22-105: https://cga.ct.gov/2022/ACT/PA/PDF/2022PA-00105-R00HB-05342-PA.PDF 


Low-income undocumented children 8 and younger will be eligible for health insurance.

CCA partnered with immigrant communities and healthcare providers to advocate for this groundbreaking systemic change. Connecticut joins several other states and Washington, D.C. to ensure that all vulnerable young children can get the health care they need. Public Act 21-176 ensures that low-income Connecticut children age eight and younger will be eligible for HUSKY, the state-funded Medicaid program, regardless of their immigration status, beginning January 1, 2023.

CCA will continue to advocate next year for reforms that provide HUSKY coverage to low-income children aged 9 – 18, regardless of immigration status, and to hasten implementation so coverage would commence in July 2022.

For more information, please contact Jay Sicklick.

Incarcerated youth will be able to maintain connections with family.

Public Act 21-54 allows incarcerated youth to make free phone calls to family.

Advocacy for this change was ignited by youth who had experienced the challenges of reentering society after time in prison. The youth described to CCA attorneys how maintaining relationships with family is critical for reentry, but the exorbitant cost of prison phone calls to family prevented them from maintaining regular contact. When they were released from prison, youth often returned to disrupted relationships and limited support systems.

CCA’s advocacy focused on incarcerated youth, but CCA’s framing of this issue as important for reduced recidivism helped move the entire conversation forward to expand the population that benefited: the legislation that was passed provides free phone calls to families from incarcerated adults as well as youth.

CCA’s reentry publications provide information important to youth released from incarceration:

For more information, please contact Adam Yagaloff.

Reforms to the juvenile justice system will increase developmentally appropriate services to reduce future justice system involvement.

CCA attorneys and youth advocates served on the Connecticut Legislature’s Juvenile Justice and Policy Oversight Committee (JJPOC) and its five Subcommittees, advocating for systemic reforms to the juvenile justice system. Reforms recommended by the JJPOC and passed into law this year include measures that:

– Raise the minimum age at which children can be brought into juvenile court jurisdiction to 10 years old
– Improve educational services for youth in juvenile justice facilities and youth transitioning to home schools
– Require the Judicial Branch to provide record erasure information to youth and parents when a youth is discharged
– Transfer responsibility for securely housing youth under age 18 from the Dept. of Corrections to the Judicial Branch

For more information on juvenile justice systemic reforms, contact Marisa Halm.

Youth will be able to protect themselves from HIV without pressure to disclose sexual orientation.

In 2019, CCA advocacy helped create a law that ensures youth can access PrEP, an HIV prevention medication, without parental consent. This year, we successfully advocated to close a gap in confidentiality protections for youth.

Public Act 21-22 allows minors who are insured on their parent/guardian’s commercial insurance policy to ask that an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) be suppressed or sent to a personal email or address if the service/treatment is confidential and protected by law. Our testimony in support of this important legislation may be found here.

To request a preview of CCA’s Adolescent Health Care: Legal Rights of Teens, visit our publications page.

For more information, please contact Jay Sicklick.

Youth who are homeless can get State I.D. and birth certificate required to meet basic needs.

Brianna, age 17, was forced out of her home by family violence, and started “couch surfing,” staying for a few nights with a series of friends. She began looking for a job but soon realized she couldn’t get a job without a birth certificate and Connecticut I.D. She had to put her job search on hold until she could find someone to pay for those documents.

Public Act 21-121 ensures that youth experiencing homelessness, including youth who are doubled up and couch surfing, have access to free state I.D.s and birth certificates.

CCA’s youth organizers – Jacqueline, Matthew, Nathaniel, Tania, and Reyna – who had personal experience with homelessness, provided compelling testimony to the State Legislature that helped push this law through to passage.

“It is not easy to be homeless and it’s more difficult when we don’t have the proper documentation required to get benefits like medical insurance, food stamps, jobs, housing, and even education…. A birth certificate is the primary document you need for almost everything. If you don’t have a birth certificate you can’t get a State ID, which you need for a job.”
– Reyna, in testimony to the legislature’s Public Health Committee

For more information, please contact Stacey Violante Cote.

Youth with disabilities will have increased opportunities to attend Connecticut technical schools.

CCA heard many stories from youth and parents about youth who wanted to attend a technical high school but were discouraged from applying or outright rejected, due to a disability that a school could easily accommodate. Public Act 21-144 revamps the technical school admissions process for students with disabilities so they have a fair opportunity to attend.

After graduating from high school, youth with disabilities face unique challenges in post-secondary settings, but post-secondary programs are required to provide accommodations to ensure that youth who are disabled have the same opportunity as their non-disabled peers. Read about those legal rights here.

For more information, please contact Kathryn Meyer.

2021 DCF Legislative Summary
Department of Children and Families 2021 Legislative Summary

2021 OCPD Legislative Summary
Office of the Chief Public Defender 2021 Legislative Summary


Medical-Legal Issues

Public Act 19-109: Concerning the Prevention of HIV
Effective July 1, 2019
Increases access to preventative and prophylactic interventions for minors who are at risk of exposure to HIV.

Homeless Youth

Public Act 19-179: An Act Concerning Homeless Students Access to Education
Effective July 1, 2019
Codifies the rights and protections afforded to homeless children and youth under federal law as it relates to students’ access to education.

Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Committee (JJPOC)
Effective October 1, 2019
Public Act 19-187: An Act Concerning Confidentiality Discretionary Transfer of a Juvenile’s Case to the Regular Criminal Docket and Implementing the Recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee
Bill Highlights



Public Act 18-92 – An Act Concerning Guardianship Appointments for Individuals Seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Effective July 1, 2018
Legislation permits certain unmarried persons under the age of twenty-one to be appointed a guardian solely in connection with a petition to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for designation of the person as having special immigrant juvenile status.

Child Welfare

Public Act 18-186 – An Act Concerning the Provision of Timely Notice of Child Placement Information from DCF to Child’s Attorney or Guardian Ad Litem
New legislation requires the Department of Children and Families to provide timely notice of child placement information to an attorney or guardian ad litem who represents the child in a child protection matter.

Juvenile Justice

Special Act 18-28 – An Act Establishing a Work Group to Study and Make Recommendations Concerning Issues Relating to the Search and Seizure of Students’ Personal Electronic Devices 

To prohibit a school employee from taking custody of or searching a student’s mobile electronic device except in certain circumstances.

Public Act 18-31, Recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Committee (JJPOC), includes diversion from contact with the juvenile justice system, removing barriers to education, opening access to technical schools, and improvements in the education of children who are in custody. The Center for Children’s Advocacy is a member of the State’s JJPOC.
Tow Youth Justice Institute Summary of Passed JJPOC Recommendations 


The Center for Children’s Advocacy was instrumental in preventing an override of the Governor’s veto of Public Act 18-89, An Act Concerning Classroom Safety and Disruptive Behavior. Although well-intentioned and passed by the House and Senate, this legislation would have had a negative impact on Connecticut’s most vulnerable children – specifically children with disabilities and children of color – and would have violated children’s legal rights under federal disability and privacy laws.

Summaries of Significant 2018 State Legislation

Office of Legislative Research: Special Report June 2018
2018 Summary of Education Related Legislation


Public Act 17-25
An Act Concerning “Sexting” by a Child

To ensure that all children under eighteen years of age are charged with a misdemeanor for sexting behavior rather than a felony for child pornography.

Public Act 17-119
An Act Concerning the Right of Counsel to Access Records in Certain Abuse and Neglect Proceedings
To provide assigned or appointed counsel in abuse and neglect proceedings, where a child’s parent or guardian is accused of such abuse and neglect, immediate access to the child and the child’s records.


Public Act 17-194
An Act Concerning Access to Student Records for Certain Unaccompanied Youth
To permit unaccompanied youth who are homeless to have access to their student records.

Summaries of Significant 2017 State Legislation

Office of Legislative Research: Special Report July 2017
2017 Summary of Education Related Legislation

Department of Children and Families
2017 Summary of Legislation


Public Act 16-147
Recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Committee

Implements the recommendations of the JJPOC which include closing CJTS and Pueblo, limiting the criteria for entry into detention, and enhancing educational supports for juvenile justice youth.

Public Act 16-123
An Act Concerning Youth Advisory Councils and Foster Families

We must ensure that youth in DCF care have their voices heard. This Act requires youth advisory councils at congregate care facilities, requires the Department of Children and Families to provide foster care family profiles to foster children and to solicit feedback from foster children about their experiences in care to better recruit, train and retain high-quality foster parents.

Public Act 16-188
An Act Concerning Posting of Careline Information in Public Schools

Approximately 7,651 children are abused or neglected each year in Connecticut. Many children suffer in silence because they do not know where to turn for help. PA 16-188 supports posting of the DCF Careline number and internet address in schools to assist children and youth suffering from sexual and physical abuse and neglect by informing them about assistance available and how to access it.  Schools must post the information in a conspicuous location and in various languages that are appropriate to the school’s population.

Special Act 16-8
An Act Concerning Non-Emergency Medical Transportation for Medicaid Recipients

As the current NEMT vendor, Logisticare has failed to meet performance standards outlined in its contract. Special Act 16-8 ensures that, regardless of the eventual vendor, patients receive adequate transportation that fulfills their medical needs. Federal regulation requires that the NEMT contract be the result of competitive bid. This legislation addresses overwhelming problems with service and requires that the new contract be the result of competitive bid.


Reduce Shackling of Children Who Come Before the Juvenile Court 
Public Act 15-183, An Act Concerning the Juvenile Justice System, enhances important protections for Connecticut’s youth in the juvenile justice system. As a result of the Center’s advocacy, along with our juvenile justice partners, this legislation creates a statutory presumption that a child will have all shackles and mechanical restraints removed before entering a juvenile courtroom and requires the Judicial Branch to report on shackling. The new legislation also removes certain Class B felonies from automatic transfer to adult court, raises the minimum age for transfer from 14 to 15 and extends the JJPOC, a legislative task force to consult on juvenile justice policy issues.

Prohibit Out-Of-School Suspensions and Expulsions for Very Young Children
Public Act 15-96 prohibits most out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for students enrolled in a preschool program or in kindergarten through grade two.

Chronic Absenteeism
Public Act 15-225 requires schools to track and publish chronic absenteeism data, which is a measure of all absences, whether excused or unexcused. Schools and districts that exhibit a certain percent of chronic student absenteeism must institute Student Attendance Review Teams (or use an existing body for this purpose), to coordinate interventions for students who are chronically absent.  The legislation requires SDE to help develop prevention and intervention plans for districts in tackling chronic absenteeism.

Establish Definitions and Standards for Alternative Education Programs
Public Act 15-133 directs the establishment of standards for the state’s alternative education programs.

Infant Safe Sleep Practices
Public Act 15-39 requires each hospital, as defined in section 19a-490 of the general statutes, through its maternity program, to provide the parent or parents or the legal guardian of a newborn infant with written informational materials containing the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations concerning safe sleep practices at the time of such infant’s discharge from the hospital. Effective October 1, 2015.

Protocols to Prevent Child Deaths
Public Act 15-221 requires the child fatality review panel, established pursuant to 46a-13l of the general statutes, to review the policies, practices and procedures used to protect children ages birth to three years in the state from unexpected death or critical injury. study and report to legislature by October 1, 2016.

Adoption and Sibling Visitation
Public Act 15-199, Sec 18 (o). In addition to important provisions regarding permanency and guardianship for children in DCF care, new legislation provides an avenue for children who are the subject of an adoption proceeding to petition the court for the right to maintain contact and visitation with sibling(s) who live in different homes. Effective October 1, 2016.

Summaries of Significant 2015 State Legislation

State Department of Education (SDE)
2015 Summary of Education Related Legislation

Department of Children and Families (DCF)
2015 Legislative Summary


Family Violence Mediation
Public Act 14-217, Budget Implementer, Section 85
Keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system.
Many cases come to juvenile court as a result of fights between parent and child.  These cases disproportionately represent youth of color and had not been not diverted from juvenile court because there was no mediation program available to juveniles, as there is in the adult system.  New law creates a pilot program in 2 jurisdictions, to be evaluated by the Judicial Department’s Court Support Services Division.

Raise the Grade – Closing the Achievement Gap for Children in Foster Care and Juvenile Justice System
Public Act 14-99
Sharing educational information with DCF, foster parents, children’s attorneys
Many children in foster care struggle to get the educational supports they need – partly because educational information is not always accessible or shared with adults responsible for the child’s education. New law permits sharing of educational information about a foster child with the child’s foster parent, DCF case worker, and child’s attorney.

Evaluating and addressing children’s educational needs
Children who come into child welfare or juvenile justice facilities often have specialized learning needs. Prompt receipt and review of a child’s educational records will help ensure timely referral for appropriate supports.

Access to Pre-School for Children in DCF Care
Public Act 14-217, Budget Implementer, Sections 132-133
Increasing access to pre-school
Access to pre-school for young children in DCF care is an important step in closing Connecticut’s achievement gap.

Funding to Provide Support for Youth who are Homeless
File Number 524 (Raised House Bill 5030)
An Act Making Adjustments to State Expenditures for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2015

Providing supports for youth who are homeless
Outreach centers, shelters and transitional housing are key for youth who do not have a permanent place to live.

An Act Concerning Probate Courts
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
Public Act 14-104, Sections 8-9, Protecting abandoned, abused or neglected immigrant children.
New legislation codifies federal language pertaining to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) into Connecticut General Statutes. SIJS is a special form of immigration protection for children have been abandoned, abused or neglected and are dependent on the court.


Summaries of Significant 2014 State Legislation

State Department of Education
Summary of 2014 Education Legislation

Department of Children and Families 
Summary of 2014 Legislation


Raise the Grade: Reduce Educational Disparities for Children in State Care
Public Act 13-234, Sections 123-124
Implementing the Governor’s Budget Recommendations for Housing, Human Services, Public Health
As Connecticut strives to close the Achievement Gap, abused and neglected children in foster care and in the juvenile justice system continue to work substantially below grade level, are often retained in school and do not participate successfully in post-secondary programs.

In accordance with this legislation, the Department of Children and Families, in consultation with the Department of Education, shall establish the Raise the Grade pilot program, to be implemented in Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven for a two-year period beginning July 1, 2013, to increase the academic achievement of children and youth who live in DCF custody or who are served by the Court Support Services Division in these cities.

The DOE and DCF are required to annually track the academic progress of each child and youth in state custody, from pre-kindergartners through twelfth grade, and submit a progress report to the achievement gap task force established pursuant to section 10-16mm of the general statutes.

Reform Connecticut’s Alternative School Programs
Public Act 13-122, Section 12
An Act Concerning Minor Revisions to the Education Statutes
Positive reform to the state’s alternative school system will help ensure that all students receive appropriate educational services, increasing the percentage of youth who graduate from high school and improving overall educational achievement.

Public Act 13-122 requires the State Department of Education, for the first time, to conduct an in-depth study and evaluation of alternative school programs offered by local and regional boards of education in Connecticut. The study will include recommendations on how to reform and improve alternative education programs across the state.

Reduce Health Disparities
Public Act 13-234, Section 154
Implementing the Governor’s Budget Recommendations for Housing, Human Services and Public Health
Consistent with federal law, ensure that all children who have been exposed to substantiated abuse or neglect are screened to determine eligibility for Birth to Three, Connecticut’s early intervention program for children under age three who have significant developmental delays or who are diagnosed with a physical or mental condition with a high probability of resulting developmental delay. Research on children in the child welfare system estimates that upwards of 40% of young children who have been exposed to abuse or neglect require developmental support services.

Effective October 1, 2013, the Department of Children and Families shall, within available appropriations, ensure that each child thirty-six months of age or younger who has been substantiated as a victim of abuse or neglect is screened for both developmental and social-emotional delays using validated assessment tools such as the Ages and Stages and the Ages and Stages Social/Emotional Questionnaires, or their equivalents. The department shall ensure that such screenings are administered to any such child twice annually, unless such child has been found to be eligible for the birth-to-three program, established under section 17a-248b of the general statutes.

Allow Unaccompanied Homeless Youth to Access Birth Certificates
Public Act 13-142
An Act Concerning Birth Certificates for Homeless Youth
Allowing unaccompanied homeless youth to acquire their birth certificates without parental consent is a key element in enabling homeless youth to establish eligibility for, eg: driver’s license, health insurance, employment.

“Certified homeless youth” means a person who is at least fifteen years of age but less than eighteen years of age, is not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian, who is a homeless child or youth, as defined in 42 USC 11434a, as amended from time to time, and who has been certified as homeless by (A) a school district homeless liaison, (B) the director of an emergency shelter program funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the director’s designee, or (C) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, or the director’s designee.”

2013 DCF Legislative Summary