Our Legislative Priorities for 2021 and Beyond
We at the Connecticut Women’s Consortium are known for educating the behavioral health workforce and our aspiration to be a healing center for professionals dealing with vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, unpredictable budget fluctuations, and safety concerns. Twenty years ago, providers in Connecticut and across the United States lacked comprehensive awareness of the effects of trauma on individuals. Through our long partnership with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which promotes a recovery-oriented system of behavioral health care for adults, we have worked to help make Connecticut a driving force in evidence-based trauma treatment as well as trauma-informed and gender-responsive systems of care.
To fully support a behavioral health system that responds to the needs of women, LGBTQ individuals, and people of color, as well as the people and organizations that affect them, effective advocacy is needed. In recognition of this, the Consortium has intentionally renewed* advocacy efforts over the past few years, creating space to focus on advancement of legislation and policy that aligns with our mission. In recent years, these efforts have included establishing relationships with legislators championing women’s issues, recovery, and criminal justice reentry and reform; attending policy meetings within those networks; and tracking bills and testifying at public hearings of the Connecticut General Assembly.
To better support the providers and the communities we serve, the Consortium has released a 2021 Legislative Agenda | CTWOMENSCONSORTIUM. This agenda focuses on priorities that are informed by our extensive work in behavioral health and recovery, broad statewide network and collaborations, and the recently established Equity Committee. Our testimony touches on issues including:
Creating Resilient Communities
The Consortium supports legislation that promotes an equity-based, trauma-responsive, and resilient Connecticut.
TESTIMONY SUPPORTING SB-948: AN ACT ADDRESSING EDUCATION FUNDING AND RACIAL EQUITY IN CONNECTICUT: "For the past decade, the Consortium team has strived to provide high-quality, racially responsive behavioral education to Connecticut’s therapists, social workers, and clinicians. Our journey has helped us to understand the cruciality of education equity and has inspired us as advocates for women, children, LGBTQ individuals, and the organizations that affect them... The gross inequity in Connecticut’s school funding undermines the potential of Connecticut’s children."
- Advancing Racial and Social Justice
The Consortium supports legislation that promotes elimination of inequities and disparities relating to race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity or expression, specifically within the behavioral health system.
TESTIMONY SUPPORTING HB-6424: AN ACT REVISING DATA COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS CONNECTING TO THE STATE-WIDE HEALTH INFORMATION EXCHANGE: “We believe the collection of race, ethnicity, and language (REL) data is critical to identify and evaluate health disparities in access, treatment, and outcomes, inform targeted interventions, and support systemic change that addresses the issues and ensures health equity for all residents… The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened this health divide with people of color in Connecticut bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and death.”
- Delivering Comprehensive, Trauma Responsive Behavioral Health Care
The Consortium calls for increased funding for community-based, non-profit prevention, intervention, and behavioral health services including a greater emphasis on understanding and mitigating the root causes of childhood trauma.
TESTIMONY SUPPORTING SB-572: AN ACT CONCERNING COMMUNITY CRISIS RESPONSE TEAMS AND REENTRY CENTERS: "While training officers in recognizing signs and symptoms of behavioral health disorders and the use of de-escalation models is needed, it is this collaborative, community-based approach to law enforcement that will reduce the incarceration rate and divert people from unnecessary visits to the emergency department."
Protecting LGBTQ Rights
The Consortium supports the establishment of a health and human services network dedicated to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals.
TESTIMONY SUPPORTING HB-6112: AN ACT REQUIRING A SURVEY OF COURT-INVOLVED YOUTHS: "Both reports highlight the immediacy of broad, systematic research and data collection for comprehensive behavioral health service delivery. Recognizing the intersection of complex needs and the likely exposure to trauma and multiple barriers to support and care, we believe it is essential to provide care and services that address the special circumstances of court and justice involved lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth.
Reforming Justice Systems
The Consortium supports juvenile justice reform including removal of all youth under eighteen from adult, prison-like environments, raising the minimum age of arrest from seven to twelve, and diverting young children to age-appropriate services. Additionally, the Consortium supports trauma-responsive interventions within correctional facilities and community-based reentry programming.
TESTIMONY SUPPORTING SB-572: AN ACT CONCERNING COMMUNITY CRISIS RESPONSE TEAMS AND REENTRY CENTERS: "Statewide Reentry Welcome Centers will ensure that people are connected to essential housing, employment, medical and behavioral health, and education services upon release, help people apply for public benefits, and provide continuing supports while they are in the community."
* Follow this space for a post about the original Consortium, the Consortium for Substance Abusing Women and their Children, and their legacy of advocacy in the greater New Haven area and beyond!
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