Families Protest DDS Cuts and Plans to Privatize State Facilities

Families, buoyed by the union that represents caretakers for their relatives in state care, stood up against efforts from Governor Dannel Malloy's administration to privatize state services for the developmentally disabled Tuesday.

 They argued that the state's plan would hurt the health and wellbeing of their family members, many of whom have been in state facilities for decades.

“The staff is the lifeline to my brother," said Lori Gaglione as she fought back tears. Her brother is in a state-run facility slated to be transitioned to a private non-profit provider by the beginning of next year. “I can’t quit my job and stay for him. The staff is well trained, they’re there. They inform me. You’re not going to get that in the private sector. The turnover is greater. I’m begging you, Governor Malloy. I will take you on a tour. I will do whatever it takes.”

Roughly 400 Department of Developmental Services employees will be laid off according to the governor's office, making room for what's been described by his administration as more efficient, cost-effective services. Non-profits are known for providing similar services at reduced costs compared to state services.

Parents like Lindsay Mathews, whose son is in a New Haven facility argues private care is code for inadequate care.

"These are cuts. Clear and simple cuts. They’re not coming back unless we demand that they come back and we need to do that and we will.”

The governor says the arguments coming from those families are unfounded, and he has heard from many families optimistic that the reductions in expenses will lead to increased spots for the more than 2,000 people on state waiting lists.

“The changes we are making will allow us to continue having those services. If we don’t make those changes, we would have to discontinue services. That’s the reason we’re doing that.”

Further, a spokesperson for the Office of Policy and Management, the governor's budget agency, said what's happening in Connecticut is long overdue on a wide scale, but has already happening in increments.

Chris McClure with OPM said, "Since 2009, the number of individuals served directly by DDS in state run Community Service Arrangements has dropped from about 15% to less than 10%. That means today, over 90% of those living in CLAs are receiving services in facilities operated by non-profits and community providers."

Lindsay Mathews who spoke at the press conference Tuesday morning, said the governor and his administration are mismanaging the state's most vulnerable population.

“Personally, I think he should be arrested today and put on trial for what he’s doing."

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