SELECT COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

BILL NO.:

SB-982

TITLE:

AN ACT CONCERNING A PILOT TRUANCY CLINIC IN WATERBURY.

VOTE DATE:

3/3/2011

VOTE ACTION:

JOINT FAVORABLE SUBSTITUTE CHANGE OF REFERENCE JUDICIARY

PH DATE:

2/22/2011

FILE NO.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Select Committee on Children

REASONS FOR BILL:

To improve student attendance and help increase graduation rates, this bill would codify a pilot truancy clinic currently operating within the Waterbury regional children's probate court.

Proposed Substitute Bill 982 (as contained in LCO No. 3944) did the following: (1) changed the title; (2) clarified that probate magistrates and attorney probate referees could hear matters referred by the truancy clinic; and (3) allowed the Probate Court Administrator to establish policies and procedures instead of regulations to implement the clinic.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Paul J. Knierim, State of Connecticut, Probate Court Administrator: Supports bill. Since 2008, the Waterbury Regional Children's Probate Court and the Waterbury school system have jointly operated truancy clinics to help at-risk students and their families resolve the challenges that contribute to frequent school absences. Waterbury Probate Court Judge Thomas Brunnock conducts the clinics on-site at city schools.” “The clinics are a team effort that connects families with the resources of the regional children's court, school staff, police, social services agencies and other community resources.” Participation is voluntary. “The families of approximately 125 students attend the clinics at any given time. Since the program began, the absenteeism rate of participating students has declined by 60 to 65 percent.” “The program is operated within the available resources of the regional children's probate court.” The Waterbury Department of Education is seeking a federal grant to extend truancy clinic services to all elementary schools and two middle schools for three years. The truancy clinic is an innovative community-based program achieving measurable results.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Paul J. Knierim, State of Connecticut, Probate Court Administrator: (see above)

The Honorable Thomas Brunnock, Probate Judge, Waterbury Probate District: Supports bill. In an effort to find a proactive solution to truancy issues, Judge Brunnock and Attorney Iannantuoni came to believe that students should be given the tools to support their educational success as early as possible. To this end, the Truancy Clinic was installed at the elementary school level. The Truancy Clinic operates as a by-product of the Waterbury Regional Children's Probate Court. “Dovetailing the WRCPC mission, the Truancy Clinic also engages the collaborative efforts of the local Board of Education, teachers, social workers, truant officers, community resources/services, and most importantly, students and parents in a non-judicial process that addresses the systemic cause of the student's truancy.” “The outcome of the Truancy Clinic is not only a student, but also the student's entire family system, completely vested with and invested in educational success.” -- Note: Judge Brunnock submitted a detailed, 19-page report on the Waterbury Truancy Program.

Anne Marie Cullinan, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Pupil Services, Waterbury Public Schools: “The Waterbury School District, like other large Connecticut urban school districts, struggles with high truancy and dropout rates among its largely poor, minority students.” In 2006, representatives from schools, community and the City worked to find ways to improve this situation. Judge Brunnock suggested a Truancy Clinic, a program existing in Rhode Island. “The non-punitive program seeks to target and correct truancy problems early by involving the student and the student's family.” “Our data shows that attendance markedly improved for the students involved in Truancy Clinic. As a result, the program is expanded into two more elementary schools for a total of four in Waterbury.” “Waterbury families and children and the State of Connecticut would greatly benefit from an expansion of the Truancy Clinic into all twenty (20) of our elementary schools and all three (3) of our middle schools.”

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

(None Expressed)

REPORTED BY: Elizabeth S. Giannaros, Clerk

DATE: March 15, 2011