In addition to our priority legislation, CLM is often asked to endorse legislation on a number of different levels. If you have a piece of legislation that you would like CLM to endorse, please fill out 15-16 Legislative Endorsement Guidelines or contact Kathryn Cohen directly.
An Act Promoting Transparency, Best Practices,
and Better Outcomes for Children and Communities
This legislation will bring together a number of important reforms that can help save money, reduce crime, and get kids on the right track, including:
- Increasing opportunities for pre-arraignment diversion;
- Creating a way to expunge records for offenses committed by youth when they were under 21;
- Ensuring that parents can talk freely with their children when they are in trouble by creating a parent-child privilege;
- Addressing the over-use of arrest in schools by decriminalizing minor public order offenses committed by students in schools;
- Decriminalizing violations of town ordinances and other offenses already decriminalized for adults;
- Banning indiscriminate, automatic shackling of youth during court proceedings;
- Requiring data to be collected at major decision points in the system so we can tell whether our system is working and identify & address racial and ethnic disparities;
- Removing very young children from our delinquency system entirely by raising the lower limit of court jurisdiction to 11; and
- Allowing courts to consider age as a mitigating factor in cases involving young adults.
An Act Decriminalizing Non-Violent
and Verbal Student Misconduct
Throughout the Commonwealth, and nationally, there is growing awareness of a tendency to arrest and prosecute public school students for non-violent conduct that once resulted in a talking-to from the school principal and an hour in detention. This tendency, fueling what is commonly referred to as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” was recently studied in the state’s three largest cities (Boston, Worcester, and Springfield) by Citizens for Juvenile Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union and its Massachusetts affiliate, which analyzed years of school-based police reports. Hundreds of students, disproportionately of color and having disabilities, are arrested annually in these cites alone. In Springfield, more than half of the students arrested are charged with “Disturbing a school assembly,” a vague law.
An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors
Bill Number: H97
Lead Sponsor: Representative Kay Khan
This bill would stop the practice of reparative/conversion therapy and would create penalties for those who subscribe to it. In most therapeutic settings, minors who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity receive appropriate care. But a small minority of these children and their families are led to believe that so-called “reparative or conversion therapy” can eliminate same-sex attraction or transgender identity. Such practices have been found to be harmful to the mental and physical health of these clients. The American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and other mental health organizations have deemed these practices as ineffective and, in fact, a form of abuse.
- Request for Endorsement – H154 Reparative Therapy
- White House Petition to Ban Reparative/Conversion Therapy
- President Obama’s Response to Petition on Conversion Therapy
- Letter of Testimony
An Act to Protect Children’s Mental Health Services
Bill Number: H1804
It is challenging for children and families to get the mental health care they need because of difficulties in finding the right point of entry for services, finding clinicians who speak the same language and understand their culture, long waits for outpatient and in-home services, problems with misuse and oversight of prescriptions, and difficulty in finding the appropriate authority to address concerns and conflicts.
This legislation would create a Children’s Mental Health Ombudsman program, under the Child Advocate, who would be empowered to advocate for children with behavioral health disorders, identify barriers and solutions to effective mental health treatment, monitor and ensure compliance with pertinent rules and regulations, and investigate complaints filed on behalf of a child. The ombudsman will provide the voice and guidance that these families so desperately need.
An Act Ensuring the Wellbeing of
All Children in the Commonwealth
This bill will focus on three areas related to children: access to healthcare, homelessness prevention, and hunger prevention.
- Healthcare: Requires DESE to report on children’s health screenings in schools; creates a provision that would require the state to compensate for the loss of federal CHIP funding, and increases access to MassHealth for youth who have aged out of DCF.
- Homelessness Prevention: Increases access to child care vouchers, improves shelter eligibility, provides medical transportation from shelters, and improvise the location of temporary emergency shelter assignments.
- Hunger Prevention: Improves access to meals in motels, increases access to the child and adult care food program, integrates a common application for MassHealth and SNAP benefits, and increases school breakfast participation.
An Act to Increase Access to Children’s
Mental Health Services in the Community
Bill Number: H789
This bill requires coverage for community and home-based behavioral health care services (“Wraparound care”) for children and adolescents with mental health disorders who are covered by commercial insurance. Currently, these services are only available to children with MassHealth and their families, through the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI). Families with commercial insurance either go without these services, or use “secondary MassHealth” to obtain the services.
An Act Regarding Proportional Payments of the
Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP)
Bill Number: H1785
This bill requires commercial health insurance companies to contribute to the funding of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP) at a rate equal to the participation of their membership. It will also set up a fund to pilot the MCPAP program in schools and establish the program under the Department of Mental Health.
An Act Establishing Civil and Criminal Penalties
for Female Genital Mutilation of Minors
The purpose of this bill is to ban and criminalize the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Massachusetts. FGM is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. While the timing of FGM can range for a woman, the victims are commonly between the ages of 4-10 years old. The procedure is carried out with or without anesthesia and using a knife or razor. Currently only 22 states have a ban on FGM on their books, Massachusetts does not.
An Act Relative to Foster Kids
Bill Number: S95
Lead Sponsor: Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives
This bill will create more stability in our educational system for children in foster care. These children are moved frequently, and our educational system is not equipped to handle these moves in a way promotes educational growth for these youth. By creating a presumption that a child should stay in his or her school of origin, we can ensure that children are only being moved if it would be detrimental for them to stay in the same school district.
An Act Relative to Clarifying Procedures for the
Custodial Protection of Children Requiring Assistance
One major piece of CHINS reform prohibits children who require assistance from being shackled or placed in police or court lockup facilities, further emphasizing that these children require assistance and should not be treated as criminals because no crime has been committed. This legislation would roll back these important reforms by allowing law enforcement and court officials to use shackles, court lockup facilities, and police station when “practicable”, reversing vital language that was at the heart of the 2012 reform. Given that this legislation would overturn a central piece of CHINS reform, CLM strongly opposes this legislation.