Since January 2015, my husband and I, along with other parents and grandparents, spent countless hours at the Legislative Office Building talking with state senators and representatives about the list of 2,000 people needing and waiting for residential support through DDS now or at some time in the future.
We talked about our children and grandchildren, their needs and limitations, their strengths and dreams, and most of all desire to have their own lives, apart from their parents and grandparents. Our 28-year old son, Scott, is still waiting to begin living in his own apartment or home just like his older sister and brother had done years ago.
The legislators listened, sympathized and agreed that, regardless of their political affiliation, the budget should not be balanced on the backs of our children! We finally felt like we had achieved some measure of recognition and support when fully one third of the legislators became active members of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Caucus.
But then we were completely blindsided when Gov. Malloy not only did not even mention the Department of Developmental Services Waiting List is his budget proposal, but he instead cut all day program supports for new graduates and he slashed the Voluntary Services Program which assists families in keeping their child with I/DD at home.
The Democratic legislators, under the leadership of Sen. Beth Bye and Rep. Toni Walker, were able to add some money back to the budget for the day supports program and VSP, but not all the money the governor had cut. Even the Republican legislators added money for the waiting list to their version of the budget.
But since the budget was finalized last week, all we have heard on the television and radio or read online or in newspapers, is that major corporations and Connecticut citizens are threatening to leave the state because of the increasing taxes.
There are definitely some areas of the final budget that I also do not agree with, but I would like to ask my fellow citizens and these large companies to consider that this budget offers a real lifeline to some Connecticut children, young adults and their families through the DDS Day Program Supports and VSP services, even if it does nothing for those 2,000 people on the DDS Waiting List who are still waiting. And they will likely be waiting for a long time to come!