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Rep. Buck-Taylor: Our kids, our future

July 30, 2013

Children are the future of our town, our state and our country. That is why I’ve spent more than 20 years representing children in criminal, family, probate and juvenile cases as an attorney or guardian. Now, as your representative, I can continue to represent them and promote our state’s future in Hartford.

My dedication to children is neither newly found nor is it in response to a horrific tragedy, like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. Nor is it a hands-off, “let me pass a law” involvement like some, but rather a daily involvement with the families and the children who are suffering horrific abuse of all types.

I co-sponsored legislation this year that supports my continuing commitment to children. From assessing the role of the guardian and the attorney in custody cases to cracking down on human sex trafficking, the Connecticut General Assembly was very supportive this year of children and our state’s future.

Because our children face dangers such as gangs in larger cities, we’ve made harsher punishments for those trying to co-opt children into gangs. It’s now a Class A misdemeanor to recruit or encourage gang involvement, and we’re making sure the entire community assists in defusing possible gang association. Several of us also successfully fought the initiative promoted by some to decrease the size of the drug free child protective zone from 1500 feet to 300 feet, which would have endangered children by having drug deals and related gang warfare occurring much closer to their schools and daycare centers.

We’re tackling the difficult issue of mental health by asking the Department of Children and Families, along with the newly-established Office of Early Childhood, to address children’s behavioral health needs through a comprehensive plan. A unanimous decision by the legislature also requires insurance companies to maintain current levels of benefits to those with autism spectrum disorder. By law, the respective individual and group policies must provide benefits to diagnose and treat “mental or nervous conditions,” in accordance to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

I’m determined to keep our children safe in schools. Another piece of legislation I co-sponsored establishes requirements for school resource officers. The law leaves the decision up to local education officials as to whether they choose to hire active or retired police officers for armed security and follows established practices already working in other states.

Because children have always been and continue to be a very important part of my work, I am proud to be part of this initiative to promote children safety and health.