Cuts to Mental Health Agency Could be Devastating

Deep cuts are on the horizon for many state agencies but one family says cuts to mental health would be devastating.

For Stacey Daves-Ohlin, her daughter's upcoming high school graduation should be a moment of happiness but now there's dread. Dread that the state cuts to mental health will hurt Sydney's chances and so many others.

"She's a really good girl with a kind heart. She has an intellectual disability which requires her to have some assistance," said Stacey.

Agencies like the Department of Developmental Services help children and adults across the state. For Sydney, they're giving her important opportunities to socialize, become independent, and help with the transition from school to the workforce. If deep cuts take place, though, that may all go away.

"I want to be able to have the help to get a job and keep a job and be able to be successful," said Sydney.

"There's a time when the parents aren't going to be here, and my daughter is an only child. If we're not here and she doesn't have a place to live independently, where's she going to go?" asked Stacey.

Stacey says she knows cuts need to be made but that mental health isn't the place to do it.

"I understand that people will lose their jobs possibly in various areas. I myself just recently lost a job," said Stacey. "But at the end of the dark hallway, there is a light. If you take these services away from these kids, there is no light. There's nothing."

When Sydney first found out about the proposed cuts, she said she reached out to Governor Malloy and other lawmakers but got nowhere. Now she's scared about what will happen if services she and others depend on are gone.

"You're sacrificing these people to live a life without purpose, to basically exist, not live a life. And I don't think that's anything any of us want," said Stacey.

"Governor, I would like to ask you for a one-hour meeting because I understand at the high level you have to make these budget cuts but I don't think you understand the impact."

Sydney says she wants to get a job helping children but needs help to make that happen.

"I like helping [children], to help them grow and be successful," said Sydney.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to the governor's office.

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