Panel Weighs Future for Developmental Services in Connecticut

A panel of experts and decision makers heard testimony Tuesday from caregivers, family members, and service providers that intertwined in the world of Connecticut's Department of Developmental Services.

The agency and its operations have become a major political issue in the past year because of cuts and changes to the program.

“With the state’s financial situation what it is, it’s inevitable that they’re going to have to find alternatives," said Gian-Carl Casa, the President and CEO of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance.

The state, under direction of the Malloy Administration, started earlier this year to transition clients in state care to non-profit facilities that receive a bulk of their funding through state appropriations.

Casa added, “Given the state’s financial circumstances, to continue the status quo with the state providing services would be to serve fewer people, or we change the way the state provides services and serve more people.”

Rick Bush has set up a system for his sister-in-law Maria where a team of providers helps care for her every day. He describes his sister-in-law, Maria, as "high functioning," but concedes that even though she has a job and the ability to drive herself, she needs around the clock observation.

"She goes often multiple directions all the time.”

He says he's been left in the dark on what may happen to that team if they are transitioned to a non-profit provider.

“It took five years to develop her network," Bush said. "I’m not predicting what will happen. I know what will happen. It will be a complete and utter disaster.”

Caregiver Carol Lasch provides direct assistance in a pair of homes in Eastern Connecticut for a non-profit provider, the kind of organization that would assume most of the state's duties.

She's only concerned with ensuring that patients are taken care of, down to the most basic of ways.

"I want to see the clients clean, happy, well fed and well taken care of."

Bush isn't yet sold, and he's anxiously waiting for answers on what the future may look like given his sister-in-law's dependence on the state of Connecticut.

“I think relying is a gross understatement. It’s imperative and impossible for her to exist without this network of support. It’s impossible. She would fail as a human being. Our society would be burdened by her as a human being if she was not taken care of.”

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