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Huge crowd for D.D.S. hearing

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — At the State Capitol Tuesday, a preview of human need versus the state budget battle next year. Hundreds of family members, clients and workers who rely on the state Department of Developmental Services lined up to tell the agency they are not successfully doing ‘more with less’ they are doing ‘less with less’ as spending cuts continue to be felt across the state, with more coming.

The agency was conducting the hearing in attempts to prepare a plan for the next five years.

Forty-year-old Hakim Foster of Manchester is one of the more than 16,000 Connecticut residents with intellectual disabilities that is helped daily by state workers and private providers through the State Department of Developmental Disabilities.

“If Governor Malloy changes that, I’m going to be very, very nervous and I don’t know what to do with new people coming into my house and saying, ‘hey, I’m going to help you with your laundry, help you with your banking,” said Foster.

The kind of changes Foster is talking about can be very upsetting for this population and their families as the state continues to push to privatize more services that cause big life changes and can cause emotional and mental setbacks.

Others, like Shelagh McClure and Tom Fiorentino of West Hartford are one of the estimated 2,000 couples that are on a waiting list so that their son, 26-year-old Daniel, can actually start receiving some kind of services from the state because his aging parents can’t do everything forever.

“The ‘D.D.S. 5-Year Plan,’ which is why I’m here today, has no hope for him that he will ever be able to go out on his own, live in his own place in the community,” said Fiorentino.

So many families, guardians and workers came with their concerns Tuesday that the hearing was expanded into the late afternoon and an additional room was added.

“If Governor Malloy wants this…. could he just change his mind. Let’s keep it like it is. It will mean a lot to me and other people on D.D.S. and probably the parents,” said Foster.

But keeping things the way they are does not appear to be in the cards.  This agency, along with most of the others has been told by the Governor to prepare for a ten-percent cut in funding next year.

That’s on top of the cuts in jobs and funding this year.

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