Senator Danté Bartolomeo and Susan Vater Named Champions for Children

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


October 2013

The Village recognized Senator Danté Bartolomeo and early childhood consultant Susan Vater as its 2013 “Champions for Children.” The awards were presented at The Village’s annual reception, held October 24 at the Connecticut Historical Society.

Since 2001, The Village has awarded the Champion for Children award to leaders who make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and their families. “When determining the winners, we look at their service, commitment and impact,” said Dr. Galo Rodriquez, president and CEO of The Village.

Senator Bartolomeo (D-Meriden) was recognized for her work during her first term as a State Senator to spearhead the development and passage – by unanimous vote in both houses of the General Assembly – of legislation to improve mental health services for children.

“Children suffering from mental health issues are overlooked far too often, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they receive the care they need to live happy, healthy lives,” said Senator Bartolomeo, co-chair of the Committee on Children. “The law we passed this year is an important step forward in recognizing young people in our communities who are struggling and need assistance. Improving mental health services for children is a personal goal of mine, and I thank The Village for this honor.”

The “Act Concerning the Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health of Youths,” is a family-focused and evidenced-based approach to reducing mental, emotional and behavioral health issues in children through enhanced prevention, early identification and intervention, and by establishing better communication and consistency between and across state organizations charged with ensuring the health and well-being of Connecticut’s children.

“Senator Bartolomeo is a true champion for children,” said Dr. Rodriquez. “She listened to the voices of parents who were frustrated, scared and fearful that their children would not be able to receive the services they desperately need. Because of her passion, tenacity and vision, we now have a mandate to create a system of mental health services for children. We are hopeful that with implementation of this legislation we as a state will no longer let our children down.”

Joining Senator Bartolomeo in receiving the Champion for Children award was Susan Vater, senior advisor for early childhood planning and development at The Village , and member of the board of directors for the Connecticut Association for Infant Mental Health.

“Susan has been instrumental in some of the most important initiatives to improve the healthy development of children in Hartford and the state, including Help Me Grow, a statewide initiative of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center which promotes the early detection and treatment of children who are at risk for developmental and behavioral problems,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “She has been described as selfless, forward-thinking and courageous.”

The award winners received bronze and marble sculptures of a child created by award-winning local sculptor and artist Marilyn Parkinson Thrall, whose husband Roger Thrall is a descendent of The Village founder and pioneer in advancing the field of child protection, Virginia Thrall Smith.

About The Village: For more than 200 years, The Village for Families & Children has been working to build a community of strong, healthy families who protect and nurture children. They fulfill this mission by providing a full range of children’s behavioral health treatment, foster care and adoption, and community support services for children and their families in the Greater Hartford region. For more information, visit or call 860-236-4511.