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Department of Developmental Services pushes for more funding

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HARTFORD - It’s a waiting game for Connecticut families of individuals with intellectual disabilities, as lawmakers wait to see Governor Malloy's budget address.

Families are urging for more state funding and resources to help cut away at a wait list for group homes.

"It's just the two of us, living at home,” said Velma Williams-Estes, “Deborah is in a day program five days a week." Velma talked with Fox CT’s Jenn Bernstein, her 47-year-old daughter Deborah Ann by her side.

"We just enjoy being at home and that's what she likes and that's what I like,” said Velma. She is the sole care-giver to Deborah, widowed after her husband passed away four years ago.

"I'm all she has and she's all I have,” said Velma, “ and it's good now but we know that sooner or later, things are going to change." Velma, now 67, is worried about Deborah's future.

"If something happens to me today, there's no plan for Deborah.  There's no one to take care of her, no one to see after her needs."

While she is happy to have Deborah at home, where her daughter will end up weighs on her.  Deborah, who has Down syndrome, remains "Priority Two" on a wait list for housing with the Department of Developmental Services.

"We still don't have a plan because DDS does not have a plan,” said Velma. There are more than 2,000 families on the list. Velma says she knows some who've been "Priority One" for ten or fifteen years.

It's an issue of resources.

Last year, the Department was able to get $4 million for the wait list, which helped 100 families. State Representative Matt Ritter is the Chair of the Public Health Committee, where related bills will be heard.

"Making sure that families feel comfortable, particularly as their kids get older, and are going to be in a secure place,” said Ritter, “I think that piece of mind, there's nothing more important than that.  But at the same time we have to fund pre-school education, we have to fund a lot of things so we have to take it all as a whole and try to find that right balance."

The Department of Developmental Services has a new commissioner, Morna Murray. Her office said Monday marks her second day on the job. Governor Malloy's budget presentation is set for February 18th.

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