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Panel Discusses Challenges Facing Connecticut's Children


State lawmakers and policy leaders met in Hartford on Tuesday to outline challenges facing Connecticut’s children.   Some of the key issues may come up in the 2012 legislative session.

Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Jewell Mullen listed several areas of particular concern.  "They include the disproportionate incidence of infant mortality, particularly in New Haven, but in our urban areas and increasingly in our smaller cities; the rising prevalence of childhood obesity;  also, needing to put a new focus on preventing violence and injury."

She called for continued attention to bullying, including bullying in the home.

State’s Child Advocate Jeannie Milstein described a soon-to-be released report on child fatalities in the state. She said prevention programs like graduated drivers licenses have helped to lower the overall number of child deaths, but suicide remains a concern. "We have children as young as ten who have actually completed suicide, children with mental health issues, children who have often been bullied" 

Millstein stressed how important it is that quality mental health services be available for kids.

Representative Gary Holder-Winfield centered his remarks on Connecticut’s changing demographics. "..which tell us that a significant portion of our workforce in about nine or ten years will be those minority populations that we talk about when we talk about the achievement gap and when we talk about unemployment."

He called for a targeted approach to closing the achievement gap. 

Across agencies, many panelists talked about the importance of early care and education programs.  The event was presented by the Connecticut Commission on  Children.