Family Institute of Connecticut Action opposes S.B. 374, An Act Requiring Behavioral Health Assessments for Children. This bill will have a public hearing this Friday, March 8th. Read all about it here.
In addition to the aids provided in the previous link, the campus coordinator of Regina Caeli Academy, Erika Ahern (pictured above) has submitted a letter that our members can use as one possible model when contacting their own state legislators:
Dear Senators and Representatives:
As a concerned Connecticut parent of 3 home-schooled children and as the Hartford campus coordinator for the nationally-accredited Regina Caeli Academy, I would like to submit my own observations and testimony against the proposed Bill No. 374. This testimony may be read at the March 8 public hearing.
S.B. No. 374 is an unjust and uncalled-for invasion of the rights of both public school families and home-school families for three primary reasons.
1) The bill would force (“require”) parents to submit their children to psychological evaluation by an unspecified and state-selected representative of the health profession. This far over-reaches the purpose of the State Board of Education, which is to provide an equal, that is public, education to children, not to oversee their psychological health. Requiring children to undergo these invasive evaluations violates the parental right to monitor to which ideologies regarding healthcare their children are exposed at young ages. Furthermore, the materials used and questions asked during these evaluations may in fact violate the conscience of the parents whose children are being examined.
2. The bill is so vague that it leaves open-ended the question of to whom access to the results of these evaluations would be given. The phrase “the results of which shall be disclosed only to the child’s parent or guardian”, in no way protects the family from disclosure of confidential medical information to the state should the physician (who is state-appointed) deem it necessary.
3. While recent events in Newtown, CT, and other academic institutions are tragic and horrible, the state is ill-equipped and has no right to take violence as an opportunity to assume a parental role of our children. As local head of a home-school support program and as a mother “on-the-ground”, I can testify that it is the parents and the grassroots community of Connecticut that is most able to offer support, oversight, and correction of behavioral and mental health issues. Home-schooled children generally have more contact with a wide age-range of people, more one-on-one interpersonal conversations with adults (especially their parents), heavy involvement in social activities that require healthy behaviors, and more time to be physically active each day than their public school counterparts. Home-schooled children with special needs have personalized contact with non-special-needs children who love them and are required to help them (again, by parents and adults from the community). This profile suggests that the home-school model in fact has the potential to promote mental and behavioral health more effectively than any state-sponsored evaluation.
Cf. Dr. John Wesley Taylor, Self-Concept in Home Schooling Children (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International), Order No. DA8624219. This study was done as part of a dissertation at Andrews University. The results of the testing of the 224 home-schooled students was compared to the testing results of 1,183 conventionally schooled children.
also, Cf. Dr. Mona Delahooke, “Home Educated Children’s Social/Emotional Adjustment and Academic Achievements: A Comprehensive Study,” unpublished doctoral dissertation, California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, 1986.
In short, this bill contains a poorly defined requirements that violate parents’ rights as the primary educators of their children. While I commend the public school system for providing services to previously diagnosed children with special needs, the state should leave the question of diagnoses to the parents and their freely chosen healthcare professionals.
Sincerely, Erika Ahern
Regina Caeli Academy CT