March 26, 2024

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month which is a time to educate the public on developmental disabilities and highlight the ways our communities come together to create inclusive and accessible environments. Developmental disabilities can include Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Fragile X Syndrome, Intellectual Disability, Language Disorders, Learning Disorders, and Tourette Syndrome.

CCA advocates for children and youth with developmental disabilities so that they may access critical services they need in the educational, DCF, health, and juvenile justice systems. Our work also includes training providers to support parents and youth and ensure their rights are protected.

Medical-Legal Advocacy by CCA’s Disability Rights Project

CCA’s Disability Rights Project partners with health care providers to identify children and youth with developmental disabilities who are being denied the services they are entitled to by systems that are supposed to meet their needs, or who are experiencing conditions that are harming their healthy development and well-being. CCA provides legal services to children and youth referred by healthcare partners, to enforce their rights and help them access what they need to thrive. For more information, contact Disability Rights Project Director Bonnie Roswig.

Educational Advocacy for Children with Developmental Disabilities

CCA engages in advocacy efforts to educate families, schools, and service providers about the rights of children and young people with developmental disabilities. Unfortunately, children with developmental disabilities sometimes face exclusion from schools for prolonged periods. This occurs when parents are informed that schools lack the capacity to accommodate their children due to their disabilities. Our lawyers work diligently to ensure that parents are fully informed of their child’s educational rights and the corresponding responsibility of schools to accommodate children with developmental disabilities. Our goal is to guarantee that these children receive the quality education they deserve. For more information contact Sarah Mervine.

Medical-Legal Advocacy by CCA’s Disability Rights Project

Advocacy for Justice-Involved Youth with Developmental Disabilities

CCA’s advocacy for youth with developmental disabilities also extends to youth experiencing school discipline and youth involved in the justice system. CCA fights for youth who exhibit behavioral problems in schools stemming from developmental disabilities and personal trauma to ensure they can receive appropriate services in cases when they’ve been expelled from their schools. CCA’s attorneys secure students’ rights to the education they are entitled to by fighting for youth to be placed in schools that better suit their needs. For incarcerated youth, CCA fights to ensure that youth with developmental disabilities are receiving the educational and transiting planning support they need to support their reentry. For more information, contact Marisa Halm.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Summit

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Summit

Bonnie Roswig Director, Disability Rights, Medical-Legal Partnership Project presented a “Know Your Legal Rights” session at the JDRF Summit in Bristol. Bonnie was joined by two prominent legal experts: Attorney Stewart Dearing, representing the US Attorney’s Office, and Attorney Jonathan Chappell. Together, they provided attendees with an overview of the legal landscape surrounding diabetes, including relevant laws, regulations, and policies. Bonnie’s advocacy for children with diabetes has received national attention after parents in multiple states were inspired by the Complaints CCA filed with the U.S. Department of Justice against four Connecticut school districts for their failure to provide appropriate oversight of children with diabetes.

CCA Partnership with CT Council on Developmental Disabilities

Through its partnership with the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities, CCA is helping to increase opportunities for youth with developmental disabilities by providing trainings about the civil, employment, educational and postsecondary rights of youth with developmental disabilities. These trainings are designed to increase the knowledge of youth, parents, caregivers and professionals about youths’ legal rights and how they can advocate to enforce those rights. On March 19th, CCA trained care coordinators in Greater Waterbury and northwest Connecticut through the Northwest Care Coordination Collaborative. For more information about the rights of youth with developmental disabilities, in camps and afterschool programs, click here. For more information, contact CCA’s Director of Disability Rights, Attorney Bonnie Roswig.

An Interview with Hartford MLP Director, Dr. Robert Keder

To offer an update on developments at our Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP), we interviewed the new Medical Project Director, Dr. Robert Keder. Dr. Keder, a pediatrician at CCMC, was appointed in November 2023 and leads our enhanced collaboration with CCMC which aims to improve behavioral health outcomes for children with autism and other behavioral health diagnoses. He shared his initial observations and thoughts on his role which serves to coordinate trainings for medical providers about children’s legal rights related to behavioral health, and trainings for provider advocacy strategies.

Q: What are your initial observations almost 6 months into your new appointment as the Medical Director of the new Behavioral Health Medical-Legal Partnership at CCMC?

A: To begin with, I want to share that I am honored to be working in partnership with CCA and their MLP at CCMC to provide training and leadership in the area of pediatric behavioral health. It is a privilege to do this work.

From my lens, it is important to think about how our medical providers advocate for kids with developmental and behavioral health issues. I ascribe to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ model of taking an eco-behavioral approach to ensure there is an understanding of both the economic and legislative systems around which kids and their families and caregivers are navigating. Since the purpose of our pediatric behavioral health MLP is to try to give a voice to our kids and to ensure the rights of our kids, it is important to ensure the social determinants of health are factored into our provider equation.

Q: What do providers need to know to improve their care for children and youth with developmental disabilities?

A: It is important that providers, when working with kids with behavioral and developmental needs, navigate and meet children’s needs by taking into account the school systems, and socio-economic, legal, and family systems each child is navigating. I work to ensure providers are trained to consider and meet the needs of each individual child recognizing that there are different sets of needs and circumstances for each child. It is so important that each child is recognized as a completely different child when evaluating their needs, and I am grateful to be working in partnership with CCA and their CCMC MLP to provide this pediatric behavioral health training at CCMC.

2024 Legislative Session
CCA is off to a strong start in this year’s legislative session. Our attorneys are testifying and garnering support for issues like expanding HUSKY for older immigrant teens, delaying the change in the kindergarten start age law, and expanding protections for renters so they are not unfairly and unjustly evicted

CCA attorney Kathryn Meyer joined by parents and advocates at a press conference on the kindergarten start age law.
CCA Team: Tiffany Minakhom, Bonnie Roswig, Sarah Mervine, and Stacey Violante Cote at a press conference for the HUSKY for immigrants expansion bill.

CCA’s Speak Up! Youth also testified in support of Bill #380, An Act Concerning School Discipline, which will prevent the unnecessary discipline of youth, especially youth of color. Under the leadership of Stella Rose, CCA’s Speak Up Project Coordinator, the youth have been working with our attorneys and community organizations to develop their public speaking and advocacy skills. For more information about CCA’s Speak Up Project, contact Stella Rose.

Black History Month Spotlight Event: Investing In Our Youth

We were thrilled to welcome Connecticut’s State Treasurer, Erick Russell, as the keynote speaker for our Black History Month spotlight event, Investing in our Youth, on February 21st. Investing in our children and youth has been CCA’s appeal and rallying cry since our founding in 1997. Our representation, training, and advocacy originate from the belief that all children should have equal opportunities to succeed, and their individual and collective impacts demonstrate what can be accomplished when we support the most vulnerable kids in our communities. 

Co-hosted by the University of Bridgeport’s Ernest F. Trefz School of Business and sponsored by Pullman & Comley LLC, Wiggin + Dana LLP, Roger Ibbotson, Cummings & Lockwood LLC, the John & Kelly Hartman Foundation and Southport Compass, Treasurer Russell kicked off the morning with his Investing in our Youth keynote address which centered on celebrating the achievements of Black Americans and recognized the importance of investing in our youth through initiatives such as Connecticut’s new and the nation’s only Baby Bonds program. In the inspiring words of Treasurer Russell,

“We have an obligation to support all of Connecticut’s children and a vested interest in ensuring they can fully participate in our society and economy as they grow. That’s how we shape the future we want for our state — one that is equitable, secure, and full of opportunity.”

To underscore what can be accomplished when we lift up children and youth in all our communities, CCA’s Racial Justice Project Director, Attorney Karrol-Ann Brown, offered an introduction to our Racial Justice and Educational Success project areas, which address the critical issues of disaffected youth, juvenile justice involvement, and chronic absenteeism. Deputy Director, Attorney Stacey Violante-Cote, then framed the impact of CCA’s work for homeless youth and immigrant children across Fairfield County to raise awareness of the needs and challenges facing Connecticut’s most at-risk kids. Investing in our Youth also served as an opportunity to highlight our key 2024 legislative priority areas, which include:

  • Promoting health equity by expanding HUSKY health insurance to cover undocumented children through the age of 18,
  • Implementing mediation programs in child welfare cases to reduce racial disparities,
  • Securing passage of legislation to remove youth from adult prisons,
  • Advocating for kids facing homelessness and for kids living in housing that is harming their well-being.

We are so grateful to our Board of Directors who worked tirelessly to ensure the event’s success, and we are delighted to have welcomed so many sponsors, community and sustainability partners, CCA Board members and colleagues, UB students, and guests to Investing in our Youth this year!


Utility Support Advocacy

As COVID-related protections gradually come to an end, the unfortunate reality of shut-offs is looming again, with May 1st marking the commencement of this challenging situation. In response to this pressing issue, CCA is proactively partnering with utility companies to ensure that families are well-informed about their options and have the resources they need to keep their lights and heat on.

CCA is holding utility clinics to directly support families across the state over the next couple of months in Hartford, Waterbury and New Britain. For more information about the utility clinics and information about volunteering, please contact Bonnie Roswig.

English Flyer    Folleto español

View All Center Headlines