Legislation from Latest Session
The end of the 2007 Legislative Session resulted in changes to Connecticut law in the fields of Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, Education and Health Care. Highlights of the legislation are included below:
This Act expands DCF’s subsidized guardianship program for the benefit of siblings of children living with relative caregivers. It requires that courts permit foster parents, as well as prospective adoptive parents and relative caregivers, an opportunity to be heard when a hearing is scheduled concerning DCF’s permanency plan or revoking DCF’s commitment. The Act eliminates the requirement that the child have lived with the foster parent or relative caregiver for at least six months.
The Act amends Conn. Gen Stat section 53a-73a (Sexual assault in the 4th degree): Under current law, anyone who has sexual contact with a person under age 15 is guilty of 4th-degree sexual assault. Under this Act, the actor is guilty of this crime only if he/she is more than (1) two years older than a victim under age 13, or (2) three years older than a victim between ages 13 and 15.
The Act creates an exception to Connecticut’s hearsay rule for statements of young children about their sexual or physical assault by someone with authority over them. The exception applies if :
1. the court finds that the circumstances of the statement, including its timing and contents, provide particularized guarantees of its trustworthiness;
2. the statement was not made in preparation for a legal proceeding;
3. the proponent of the statement (a) tells the adverse party what the statement contains, including when, where, and to whom it was made and the circumstances that indicate its trustworthiness; (b) tells the adverse party that he/she intends to offer it as evidence; and (c) gives the adverse party fair opportunity to counter it; and
4. the child (a) testifies and is subject to cross-examination at the proceeding or (b) is unavailable as a witness and (i) there is independent non-testimonial corroborative evidence of the alleged act, and (ii) the statement was made prior to the defendant’s arrest or institution of juvenile proceedings in connection with the act described in the statement.
Beginning January 1, 2010, 16 and 17 year olds may have their charged offenses adjudicated in juvenile court. Juvenile cases involving serious felonies will still be automatically transferred to adult criminal court and prosecutors may still ask the juvenile court judge to transfer other cases to adult court.
The “Raise the Age” initiative will eliminate the “Youth In Crisis” program for 16 and 17 years olds charged with status offenses. Instead, these youth will be eligible for the Families With Service Needs program.
By law, a school district receiving a transfer student must give written notice of the student’s enrollment to the student’s former school district. This act requires school districts receiving transfer students from Unified School District #1 to provide the written notification to the unified district within 10 days of the enrollment. It specifies that, as is required by law for all sending districts, Unified School District #1 must transfer the student’s records within 10 days of receiving the notice. Unified School District #1 serves students in the custody of the Department of Correction.
An Act Implementing the Provisions of the Budget Concerning Education Provides that expulsion notice will include information concerning legal services provided free of charge or at a reduced rate that are available locally and how to access such services.
This Act provides that the school administration may shorten the length of or waive a school suspension period for a student who is suspended for the first time or who has never been expelled. The student is eligible for this benefit if the student successfully completes an administration-specified program and meets any other conditions required by the administration.
Additionally, notice of that student’s suspension will be expunged from the student’s cumulative record by the board of education if (1) the student graduates from high school, or (2) the administration chooses, at the time the student completes the administration-specified program and meets any other conditions required by the administration.
This Act places school districts under the same regulations for use of restraints and seclusion for special education students that conform with requirements for other state agencies. It requires schools to notify parents (1) about the laws and regulations governing the use of physical restraints and seclusion, and (2) when physical restraints have been used on their children.
This Act prohibits out-of-school suspensions and extends, from five to 10 days, the maximum length of in-school suspensions. A student can be suspended for (1) conduct that violates a publicized board policy or seriously disrupts the educational process or (2) conduct on school grounds or at a school sponsored activity that endangers persons or property.
The Act requires suspensions to be in-school unless the school administration determines that the student (1) poses a danger to persons or property, or (2) is disruptive of the educational process. Current law defines in-school suspension as exclusion from classroom activity, but not from school, for up to five consecutive days. The Act extends this to 10 consecutive days. Under existing law, an exclusion from school privileges for more than 10 days constitutes an expulsion.
The law allows students to be placed in in-school suspension up to 15 times or a total of 50 days in one school year, whichever results in fewer days. Students can be suspended out-of-school only 10 times or 50 days in one school year, whichever results in fewer days.
This Act provides for the following:
1. Increase in Medicaid reimbursements to physicians, dentists and other health care professionals. Medicaid will provide a fifty percent increase in the reimbursement rate for physicians (the first increase since 1989); hospitals will receive an additional $46 million in the first year and $72 million in fiscal year 2009;
2. Expansion of the HUSKY health insurance program, including insurance coverage under the HUSKY A plan for parents with income up to 185% of the federal poverty level (up from 150%), and pregnant woman coverage up to $250% of FPL;
3. Introduction of a pilot program of primary care case management (PCCM) for child/family Medicaid (HUSKY A).Under this system, the primary care provider (pediatrician, family medicine practitioner, etc.) is the care coordinator/case manager who arranges for specialty care when necessary, as opposed to the managed care organization, which presently designates these choices.