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June 08, 2015 Practice Points

Law to Limit Use of Seclusion and Restraints on Children in Connecticut

By Jessalyn Schwartz

On Wednesday, May 27, 2015, Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill limiting the use of seclusion rooms and restraints on children in the state's schools.  Connecticut's current law regarding seclusion and restraints allowed children to be locked alone in rooms for indefinite periods of time and restraints to be used with little oversight. The Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) has found that children, some as young as pre-school aged, were being placed in seclusion, including those on the autism spectrum. The OCA additionally found that the children being restrained or secluded were largely African American or Hispanic, and found that over the last three years, more than 1,300 incidents included injury to the child during the restraint or seclusion. The new law would increase monitoring and reporting of the practice of using restraints or seclusion, and requires that parents must be notified within 24 hours of the child being placed in seclusion. The law sets forth strict limits on the use of restraint and requires all seclusion rooms to have windows. Connecticut's multi-tiered law begins to take effect on July 1, 2015, with some provisions not being implemented until 2019. 

Jessalyn Schwartz is a member of the ABA Children and the Law Advisory Task Force in Boston, Massachusetts.

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