Photo of Senator Cassano.

State Senator

Steve Cassano

Representing Andover, Bolton, Glastonbury & Manchester

Senate Approves Student Health Services Expansion and Child Care Support Bill

Senator Cassano Votes To Bolster Youth Mental Health Services, Support More Social Workers in School and Help Child Care Providers


Today, State Senator Steve Cassano [D-Manchester] voted to pass Senate Bill 1, “An Act Concerning Childhood Mental and Physical Health Services in Schools.” Senate Bill 1 takes a thorough approach to supporting youth from their early years through high school. The expansive legislation would build up necessary infrastructure – including school personnel, child care and school-based student resources– to support the needs of the whole child. Further, it responds to the impact that COVID-19 has had on young people, from exacerbating the youth mental health crisis to student disengagement.

"Children in our state need every advantage we can give them, which is why I'm supporting this legislation," said Sen. Cassano. "It takes an overarching approach at providing children with the aid they need. Early childhood education, student mental health services, Connecticut's teachers and new educational opportunities all will play a vital role in bolstering the strengths of our youth, providing a better, stronger future for our state as they learn and grow."

Senate Bill 1 would take numerous actions to increase resources and programs available to support children, teenagers, and schools including:

Expanding Student Access to Mental Health Services and Resources for Schools

  • Provides $10 million in needs-based grants for improving and expanding services at current school-based health centers. All 36 health centers and 124 schools identified by the state Department of Public Health in need of greater services will be eligible to apply
  • Create a grant program for boards of education administered by the Connecticut Department of Education to hire and retain more social workers, psychologists, nurses, and counselors in schools

Increasing Wages for Child Care Workers and Improved Access to Early Childhood Education for Families

  • $70 million to fund a new child care and early childhood education worker salary enhancement grant to be administered by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC)
  • Nearly doubling the number of infant and toddler spaces in child development centers across Connecticut from currently about 1,500 to around 2,800 spaces. Also increases to $13,500 the rate provided by the OEC per infant and toddler space in these centers

Enhance School Preparedness to Respond to a Student Opioid Overdose

  • Boards of education will be provided information on how to acquire no-cost opioid antagonists, like Narcan, by Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection and Department of Education
  • Pharmacists and prescribing practitioners can dispense opioid antagonists to board of educations and school district employees will be trained on proper use and handling There must be at least one qualified school employee who can administer an opioid antagonist in the event a school nurse is not available

Supporting Connecticut’s Teacher Workforce

  • The state Department of Education will study and identify ways to streamline and improve pathways for teacher certification
  • Establishes a teacher shortage and retention task force
  • $1 million for a new minority teacher candidate scholarship program. The scholarships will be available to graduates of a priority school district and are enrolled in a teacher preparation program at a four-year higher education institution in Connecticut

Bolstering Education Opportunities, Student Engagement, and Inclusivity

  • $7 million for the Learner Engagement and Attendance Program (LEAP), which helps students struggling with absenteeism and disengagement
  • The state Board of Education will administer a “career and technical pathways instructor permit” to individuals with training or expertise in manufacturing, allied health, computer technology, engineering, or construction in order to teach a class related to their expertise. The permit will be issued following the request of a local or regional board of education or regional educational service center
  • Adds Asian American and Pacific Islander studies to the state curriculum for students
  • Establishes an Open Choice school program between Guilford and New Haven
  • Create separate task forces on combatting ableism in school-settings, and the governance structure and internal procedures of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC)

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