Connecticut lawmakers last week created a special charitable fund to help cover the mental-health costs of educators, first responders, and other workers traumatized by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The fund is expected to be operational on April 1.
Traditional worker’s compensation does not cover most people for exclusively mental-health issues.
State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said five members of the police department are on leave because of the shootings. He said others will likely need help later because illnesses may not become evident for months or years.
Melodie Peters, the president of the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, said 11 people had applied for worker’s compensation but were rejected.
Under the bill, eligible claimants can receive financial help for uncompensated leave if mental or emotional impairment has caused a disability that prevents them from working. They can also receive help for related medical expenses not covered by their own health insurance. The bill limits each claim to 52 weeks of benefits.
A separate bill moving through the legislature would require worker’s compensation to cover treatment for mental illnesses stemming from future workplace traumas.
A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2013 edition of Education Week as Private Fund Created for Newtown Workers