BERLIN - Area lawmakers met at CCARC Tuesday for the organizationâ€™s fifth annual legislative breakfast, hearing from several mental health and providers for people with disabilities.
The event was launched as a way for care providers to speak directly with lawmakers, said CCARC CEO Anne Ruwet.
â€śWe want to be a part of the solution,â€ť said Ruwet.
She moderated the breakfast, at which legislators introduced themselves, then took questions from care providers.
â€śAre we not being heard?â€ť asked Betty Albracht of CW Resources, an employer of people with psychological and physiological disabilities.
She said she has been attending the breakfast for five years, but has seen little change.
The CT Community Nonprofit Alliance - an association of state nonprofit organizations - said in documents that grants to fund behavioral health care dropped 19 percent this year. Cuts in funding impact health care workers and services, officials noted.
â€śWe have a lot of staff come and go,â€ť said Joseph Drexler, executive director of Residential Management Services.
He said the low hourly pay rate for workers is part of the reason for the high turnover.
Sabrina Trocchi, of Wheeler Clinic, said opportunities to privatize state services should be explored, as organizations such as those in attendance are better positioned to maximize profits.
During his opening remarks, state Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol, commended the work the care providers do daily for their clients.
â€śSince Sandy Hook, and that was quite a while ago, I find it more than ironic that we reduced the Department of Mental Health during that stretch,â€ť he said. â€śI think we as a government need to change the way we plan, operate and prioritize,â€ť he said.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz followed by saying the state government has made efforts to govern better by reducing its work force by 12,000 to 40,000 employees, and that people need to stop dwelling on the negative â€śperceptionâ€ť of Connecticut.
â€śPerception becomes reality,â€ť he said.
Admitting Connecticut needs to figure out what kind of state it wants to be and what priorities it wants to fund, he added, â€śYou guys need to be prioritized and need to be prioritized immediately.â€ť He said he would introduce a legislation package this session to increase funding for the care providers.
Among other legislators in attendance were state Reps. Mike Demicco, D-Farmington, Tony Guerrera, D-Newington, William Petit Jr., R-Plainville, Derek Slap, D-West Hartford, and state Sens. Henri Martin, R-Bristol, and Terry Gerratana, D-New Britain.
Among other providers in attendance were HARC, Kuhn Employment Opportunities, BARC, Klingberg Family Centers, CMHA, Mosaic, the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies, Key Human Services, Farrell Treatment Center and CMHACC.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.