Mom sues Dept. of Developmental Services over impact of group home privatization on son

NEW HAVEN – 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.

“These are intricate, intimate relationships that the staff and residents have. I don’t know how to stress this enough, but they are family,” said Mathews.

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.

“I said, ‘No, this can’t happen,’ not to a group of people who can’t put toothpaste on a toothbrush, who can’t put their arm through a winter jacket, who can’t adjust the shower to the right temperature themselves. This can’t happen to people like this,” said Mathews.

She said, “It’s making orphans out of them.”

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.

“They shouldn’t be put in uncertain circumstances like this. This is not about money. It’s about love,” she said.

She told FOX 61 she hopes her lawsuit will make a difference, or at the very least, call attention to the changes and how they will affect people like Griffin.

DDS has said all along that they are working to maintain the same levels of service after the transition.

Mathews said, “These group homes are a success and Connecticut should be proud of them. This is taxpayer dollars well spent.”

“What’s done can be undone,” she added.