Lawmakers Hear Testimony Concerning Privatizing DDS Care

Source: Todd Piro, NBC Connecticut, March 8, 2017

Beverly Laporte of East Hartford worries about what will happen to her son Robbie if he is moved from his group home in South Windsor to private care. Laporte joined others at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Tuesday, testifying in front of the Public Health Committee against privatizing Department of Developmental Services care for their relatives. … At issue, of course, is money. Non-profit providers, through The Alliance, which provides a voice for community non-profits, say they can provide the highest quality of care at a fraction of the cost, saving the cash-strapped state $150 million dollars per year in residential care alone. … Some like Laporte are not convinced, arguing that because many private employees in the caregiving field are paid less than their public counterparts, there is a high turnover rate that hurts continuity of care. … Wednesday’s testimony was just one part of the larger battle that will be going on throughout the session.


Connecticut unions say state needs to negotiate privatization
Source: Christine Stuart, New Haven Register, October 13, 2016

Two state unions representing workers at the Department of Developmental Services filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging the state can’t move forward with privatizing group homes without negotiating first with the unions. The Connecticut State Employees Association, SEIU Local 2011 and New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199 sought an injunction in Hartford Superior Court to stop the privatization from moving forward until negotiations are completed. Department of Development Services Commission Morna Murray announced in August that the state was moving forward with a plan to convert 30 group homes to private operation by Jan. 1, 2017. The agency also closed two regional centers in Meriden and Stratford. The plan is expected to save the agency $42 million in 2017 and $70 million in 2018. …

State employee unions suing to block group home privatization
Source: Arielle Levin Becker and Keith Phaneuf, CT Mirror, October 13, 2016

State employee unions plan to ask a judge to block the privatization of group homes for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, saying the layoffs caused by those changes violate Connecticut law and will eventually be blocked by the state labor board. If that happens, the unions say in their request for an injunction, clients would have their lives upended twice – first by having to go through a change in staff in state-run group homes where they have developed relationships with caregivers, and then again if the labor board orders the laid-off state employees to be reinstated. … The unions, CSEA-SEIU Local 2001 and SEIU 1199, New England, represent nearly 500 workers who are expected to be laid off because of the Department of Developmental Services’ plans to privatize the services they provide. The workers include staff at state-run group homes and institutions, and those who provide job support, education, physical and speech therapy, health care and other services to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Both unions filed a complaint with the state Board of Labor Relations earlier this week, alleging that DDS broke the law by failing to bargain with them over the decision to outsource the work. … The Malloy administration plans to privatize 40 group homes, as well as services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities – moves aimed at saving the state nearly $70 million per year by next fiscal year. Overall, the plan is expected to eliminate 605 state jobs. In an August memo detailing the plans, budget director Benjamin Barnes wrote that the state was requesting that the private providers give hiring preferences, when possible, to state employees who lose their jobs because of the changes. …

DDS fights suit over medical records held by mom as they look to privatize her son’s care
Source: Tony Terzi, Fox61, October 3, 2016

Not everyone agrees with a move that could save the state more than $100 million over two years. In August, it was announced that the state would lay off hundreds of Department of Developmental Services workers, as part of the privatization of 40 group homes, as a way to save approximately $100 million over two years. One woman who continues to fight that move was summoned to New Haven Probate Court on Monday. … If the courts rule in favor of the state, things could get more unsettled for Griffin. “Then they can take steps to try to get him out of the home that he’s been in for 20 years,” said his mother. …

In Danbury, state privatizing in-home developmental services
Source: Mackenzie Riggs, News Times, September 26, 2016

Thirty-seven local clients of the state Department of Developmental Services will soon start receiving their services from private providers instead of state employees. … At present 11 clients receive in-home support and 26 clients receive day services, along with their families, from six DDS employees working out of the Danbury office on Main Street. It was not immediately clear when these changes would be implemented and when the six employees might be laid off. The Danbury office will remain open, with the same hours, while separate case management services continue to be provided by at least 14 DDS staffers. These changes are part of the state’s plan to save $108 million over two years that includes cutting staff and privatizing some services across the state. About half of the savings are expected to come from the privatization of 40 state-run group homes serving some of the state’s most profoundly disabled residents. There are no longer any state-run group homes in the Danbury area. …

Mom sues Dept. of Developmental Services over impact of group home privatization on son
Source: Laura Roberts, Fox 61, September 19, 2016

As the Department of Developmental Services begins transitioning its group homes from the public to private sector, one New Haven mom is pursuing legal action against the plan she calls “criminal.” Lindsay Mathews filed a lawsuit on September 9 in New Haven District Court on behalf of her son George Griffin. Griffin, 51, has lived in a group home in Hamden known as “Brook Street” for more than two decades, and for much of that time he has worked with the same state workers. He has physical and intellectual disabilities that require around-the-clock care. … In August, the state announced that nearly 500 employees would be laid off from DDS. In addition, the group homes in which they worked would be privatized. DDS said the plan would save the state more than $100 million over two years. … Mathews filed an injunction against the state that prevents them from giving her son private care or transferring his private medical information to the new owners of the group home. …

Mother of Disabled Son Goes To Court To Stop State Privatization
Source: Christine Stuart, CT News Junkie, September 12, 2016

The mother of a disabled 51-year-old who lives at a state facility in Hamden is suing the Department of Developmental Services for transitioning its work to the private sector in order to save money. … At a recent press conference, Mathews said she didn’t believe private sector workers could take care of her son like the state workers she called “family.” The decision to end all residential services for state residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities was made in August when DDS Commissioner Morna Murray submitted a plan to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget office. The plan is expected to save the agency $42 million in 2017 and nearly $70 million in 2018. Under the plan, 30 group homes will be converted to private operation by Jan. 1, 2017. In March, it announced the closure of two regional centers in Meriden and Stratford. Those facilities will close by October and several other day programs also will be transitioned to the private sector. … Mathews, according to the lawsuit, is refusing to sign releases that would authorize DDS to share her son’s confidential medical information with third parties. … The lawsuit goes onto say that DDS informed Mathews that it’s able to release her son’s records to Residential Management Services, the nonprofit provider who won a bid to take over the care of the Brook Street residents, including Mathews’ son. Mathews received a letter from Thomas Dailey, the regional DDS director on Sept. 1, claiming that it was free to release her son’s records to “qualified entities” that it regards as “business associates” of the department for the “purpose of continuity of care.” Mathews wrote to DDS to reiterate her objection to the records being released and is asking the court to intervene. According to the lawsuit, Mathews is hoping the court will require the state and its employees to continue to provide services to her son. …

Mother of Disabled Son Goes To Court To Stop State Privatization
Source: Mark Davis, WTNH, August 25, 2016

Many parents with disabled adult children say other parents should not fear privatization following the layoff of hundreds of state workers. These parents say their sons and daughters are doing well with the non-profit private providers through the state Department of Developmental Services. The Governor says using private providers more is a national trend and he’s right about that. Several parents we spoke with today say it’s working well for them. … The Governor’s office says after this latest round of layoffs at the end of the year and more people are transitioned to the private providers, the state should end up saving about $70 million. …

Connecticut releases plan to privatize dozens of group homes
Source: Susan Haigh, Associated Press, August 16, 2016

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration released a plan Tuesday to privatize 40 group homes and other services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, a move the union representing hundreds of affected state employees warned will “decimate” the state of Connecticut’s ability to provide services to the disabled. … She said the plan, which is projected to save the agency nearly $70 million, continues to provide “cost-effective, community-based options” for individuals served by DDS. It calls for cutting 605 related staff positions, 113 of which have already been eliminated. While Murray acknowledged the transition will “create personal challenges” for many dedicated state employees, she said the state is requesting that private provider agencies give hiring preference when possible to those workers displaced by the privatization initiative. … Under the DDS budget plan, 40 state-run group homes will be converted into private group homes. It also includes the previously announced closures of the Ella T. Grasso Regional Center in Stratford and the Meriden Regional Center, congregate living facilities for people with severe developmental disabilities. There also are plans to privatize state-run day and in-home support services. …

Union: Privatizing group homes would ‘decimate’ services
Source: Susan Haigh, Associated Press, August 16, 2016

The union representing workers at dozens of state-run group homes facing privatization say the proposal will “decimate” the state of Connecticut’s ability to provide services for the disabled. SEIU 1199 New England spokeswoman Jen Schneider says the union is urging Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to “find a better way than balancing the budget on the backs of the disabled.” Morna Murray, Malloy’s commissioner at the Department of Developmental Services, submitted a plan Tuesday that turns over 40 group homes and other programs for people with intellectual disabilities to private, nonprofit agencies. It also eliminates 605 related staff positions, 113 of which have already been terminated. …