A bill introduced by State Rep. Ben McGorty and fellow Democrats State Reps. Pat Boyd and Liz Linehan to create a specific diversionary program to treat the unique needs of children in delinquency proceedings involving fire starting behaviors passed unanimously in the House Monday, May 20.
"Teaching children that have fire starting behaviors at an early age that starting a fire is serious can prevent future or bigger fire events from occurring," said McGorty, the co-chair of the Fire and EMS Legislative Caucus.
"Children that commit serious fires, like the ones in Stratford, would not be eligible for the program, but the goal of this legislation is to get children who knowingly have a fire starting problem the help they need early," added McGorty.
McGorty said the Office of the Child Advocate supports HB 5575 on the basis that the bill seeks to ensure the appropriate service delivery of a treatment program for children who come to the attention of the court while also supporting public safety.
In addition, according to McGorty, the Connecticut Voices for Children supports the bill because it would increase the number of children with behavioral health challenges receiving the treatment they need and reduce the number of children entering the justice system when alternative methods could better reduce recidivism.
The bill now awaits action in the Senate.