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Tell the State of Connecticut NO to the Dramatic cuts to DDS (4/30 Recommendations Deadline)

Petition by Nancy Mastroianni

To be delivered to Morna A Murray, J.D., Commissioner of the DDS Department, The Connecticut State House, The Connecticut State Senate, and Governor Dan Malloy

There have been enormous cuts to the Department of Developmental Services, this year being the most profound and far reaching. For the first time, day program funding for 2016-2017 grads has been totally eliminated, VSP has been cut 60% and residential/home supports have also been drastically cut. There will be no hope of any residential services until the death of both parents or other profound crisis.

There are currently 1,878 signatures. NEW goal - We need 2,000 signatures!

PETITION BACKGROUND

My name is Michelle Rivelli and I am the mother of Jessica, who has autism and intellectual disabilities. I am also a pediatrician in Shelton. I ask you to sign this petition about the current state of the DDS budget cuts. I know many of you have written letters and been up to the legislature, but for those of you who have not had the opportunity to do so, I wanted to provide you with the current state of the budget cuts and what your options are at this time. 

There have been enormous cuts to DDS, this year being the most profound and far reaching. For the first time, day program funding for 2016-2017 grads is totally eliminated, VSP is cut 60% and residential/home supports are drastically cut. The only funding preserved is for personal services (ie for DDS employees which in reality over 90% of this will go to state employees at Southbury Training School and the other DDS regional centers). 

Unless the three line items highlighted above get added back into the budget, our children will have to stay home after they graduate at age 21 years! Additionally, any other supports families have been receiving will be significantly cut. There will be no hope of any residential services until the death of both parents or other profound crisis. The only hope we have is to contact the legislators on the health subcommittee of appropriations to let them know how this will affect our families before April 30th when they make their recommendations. 

In addition to this petition, contacting the leadership of appropriations will be helpful once the budget gets to the main appropriations committee in May. Unfortunately the only thing that seems to have influence in this process is the number of individuals who contact legislators about specific issues. 

I am listing the names and contact information for the subcommittee and leadership in Hartford. Your first contact should be your own state senator and representative. You can find them on the www.cga.ct.gov website. There is additional information on the cga website and on the ARC of CT website about how to contact legislators. Then if you have time contact the individuals below. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Some of the legislators have to be contacted through their specific websites rather than via regular e-mail. I totally understand that none of us have time to do this when we are trying to keep things together with our kids at home. However, after meeting with numerous legislators and advocacy groups, these contacts are the only way to ensure our children have a safety net going forward. We do have strength in numbers. Sign this petition to have a voice to protect our special needs children! 

Feel free to send a letter/call/Email: 
CO-CHAIRPERSONS of health subcommittee of appropriations (note **=members of ID/DD caucus), 
**Sen. Terry Gerratana (D-S6) Room 3002, LOB 
(860)240-0584 terry.gerratana@cga.ct.gov 
Rep. Patricia Dillon (D-92) Room 4019, LOB (860) 240-8585 patricia.Dillon@cga.ct.gov 
MEMBERS: for all of the Republicans you need to go on their websites to e-mail, for the democrats use the formula--- firstname.lastname@cga.ct.gov 
**Sen. Paul Formica (R-S20) Room 3901, LOB (860) 240-0574 
**Rep. Whit Betts (R-78) Room 4200, LOB (860) 240-8700 
**Rep. Catherine Abercrombie (D-83) Room 2002, LOB (860) 240-0492 
**Rep. Kevin Ryan (D-139) Room 4108, LOB (860) 240-8585 
Rep. Andre Baker, Jr. (D-124) Room 5008, LOB (860) 240-8585 
**Rep. Peter Tercyak (D-26) Room 3804, LOB (860) 240-8585 
Rep. Juan Candelaria (D-95) Room 1804, LOB (860) 240-8585 
**Rep. Mitch Bolinsky (R-106) Room 4053, LOB (860) 240-8700 
**Rep. Susan Johnson (D-49) Room 5007, LOB (860) 240-8585 
**Rep. Jay Case (R-63) Room 2004, LOB (860) 240-8700 
Rep. Robyn Porter (D-94) Room 2704, LOB (860) 240-8585 
**Rep. Kathleen McCarty (R-38) Room 4046, LOB (860) 240-8700 

LEADERSHIP OF APPROPRIATIONS-Co-chairs: 
**Senator Beth Bye, Deputy Majority Leader(D5)1-800-842-1420, need to e-mail via link on her website 
Representative Toni Walker, (D-93) , 1-800-842-8267 
Toni.Walker@cga.ct.gov 

LEADERSHIP OF LEGISLATURE: 
Senate President Martin Looney, (D-11), (800)-842-1420, must go on website to e-mail 
Senator Bob Duff, Senate Majority Leader (D-25), (800)-842-1420, Bob.Duff@cga.ct.gov 
Rep. Joe Aresimowic, House Majority Leader (D-30), (860) 240-8489 Joe.Aresimowicz@cga.ct.gov 
Rep. Brendan Sharkey, Speaker of the House (D-88),1-800-842-1902, Brendan.Sharkey@cga.ct.gov 

DR. RIVELLI'S LETTER TO STATE LEGISTATORS: 
The developmental disability community is currently experiencing a crisis due to unprecedented cuts to essential DDS services and slashing of funds to all other critical services. I know this because as a pediatrician I am seeing my patients affected. Closer to home, as the parent of a 20 year old with autism and intellectual disability, I have learned the current proposed budget will not provide her with any funding for a day program nor any other avenue for funding the 24 hour care and supervision she requires. She is currently in a private special educational setting where she has had the benefit of intensive structured programming to prepare her for a previously planned transition to an adult program. Here she would have had the ability to participate in her community, maintain her skills and have the benefit of being with her peers. Any planning or transition for her and her peers is currently a waste of time as there is no future for these vulnerable individuals. 

The future plan by DDS is to force these individuals to stay home with their parents (many of whom will have to quit their jobs to care for them) and live a life that is isolating and unstructured. For individuals with the same level of need as my daughter, this will cause more financial and emotional strain on families and significant worsening of behaviors of these individuals with developmental disabilities, since they thrive with routine and structure. 

Given the fact that the number of individuals with intellectual disability and autism is increasing, it is shocking to me that the state of CT continues to slash the DDS budget. The budget has been cut by $43 million since 2012, including $13.9 million since November 2014. Despite the fact that there appear to be no funds for our vulnerable family members, personal support employees at Southbury training school (STS) are making unbelievable amounts in overtime (95% of staff made overtime, 31 direct care workers made over $100,000, 3 made over $150,000 last year. For 310 residents STS hires a supervisor of food services, an assistant, dieticians, supervising chef, head cook, 10 cooks, and 21 cook attendants, as well as maintaining 18 main kitchens and 34 mini kitchens). No community providers (who are currently serving the same level of disability in community settings) have this type of overhead or cost. There is documentation of property from STS being freely distributed to agencies and municipalities by the governor when this property is a valuable asset to the same state that is declaring that there is a funding crisis. State employees have received raises at a time when our community of innocents is being told that although everyone understands our frustration, “it is out of our hands”. 

Who is responsible? Did the DDS commissioner give this budget to the governor without reservation? Did the governor not care about his vulnerable constituents enough to actually look at what the budget suggested? Do not our legislators understand how this is going to affect their communities and what future tragic stories will result from these profound unprecedented cuts to essential day services and to all other essential DDS programs? The additional tragedy is that the school systems and DDS do not seem to realize the responsibility they have to educate families as to what the future holds for them. School systems are mandated to provide transition plans to students, but there is nothing to transition to. Is this not at the very least unethical and at worst possibly illegal? I welcome our leaders to rise to the challenge before them. As one individual, 

I feel powerless in the struggle. Most families I work with are unable to have a voice as they are struggling to get through each day with their family member. Please do not let them down.