Letter to Benhaven Families

Letter to Benhaven Families,

Benhaven is entering a new fiscal year facing great uncertainty for our funding from the Department of Developmental Services. DDS is the primary funding source for our residential and employment support programs and for Individual and Family Support (IFS).

This uncertainty is a result of the lack of a state budget for the biennium starting July 1, 2017 and going through June 30, 2019. The Legislature has not voted on a budget and the Governor has issued an Executive Budget Order so that state government can continue to function and services offered by nonprofit agencies like Benhaven can continue to operate. Because there is a significant revenue shortfall and no approved budget to address these shortfalls, Governor Malloy has proposed cuts to services so the total budget deficit is not made worse before the budget is passed by the Legislature.

These funding reductions will negatively impact services to the adults who live in Benhaven residences. Day services will be cut by 10% this year and include six furlough days. On these days, Benhaven and other providers will not be reimbursed for the cost of providing staff supervision and programs for the residents. The first of these days is July 26, 2017. The rest occur between August and December 2017. We will obviously provide supervision to the residents but will need to restrict their community activities and individualized learning on these days to schedule only the staff we need to assure the residents health and safety. We will also need to decide how to reduce other day program hours to absorb the 10% reduction in funding. We will do our best to make sure everyone who works continues their employment with the supervision from our staff.

 A similar reduction of 10% is proposed for residential services. It will not take effect until November which gives us the opportunity to plan for this budgetary change. I have been the Executive Director at Benhaven for a year now. I have learned how efficiently both residential and individual support services are administered. That means that we are able to devote our staff hours to serving individuals in our programs so that their individual and unique needs and preferences are met. However it also means that the vast majority of our funding is used to pay for these staff hours. It does not leave us with many options to reduce our costs. Each Residential Manager is committed to continue to create greater efficiency with the staff schedules and house expenditures while trying not to reduce quality. We are cautious about approving overtime and are analyzing other expenditures to determine if further cost savings measures are available to us. However, if our residential budget is eventually cut by 10% we will have no choice but to reduce hours of coverage in the residences which will impact the individual support and supervision we are now able to provide. In all likelihood it will decrease the amount of time we can support individuals in various community activities.

Currently there are no funding cuts that will impact the School or Academy. We have signed contracts with each of our sending school districts. However we cannot anticipate the future if the eventual biennium budget reduces the funding the state provides to the municipalities. DDS may not be able to fund the adult employment and other day programs it usually offers to school graduates and their families. The funding for this was not in the Governor’s proposed budget. That means if your child graduated in June or will graduate in June 2018, there may not be funding for them to select a provider of adult employment or habilitative programs and attend on a regular basis.

Right now our Legislators are debating a number of budgets proposed by Democrat and Republican representatives. It is of critical importance that your elected Representative and Senator are aware of the impact these budget cuts will have on your child and your family. Legislators are very interested, concerned and impacted by understanding the real hardships that various budget proposal will create for their constituents. I urge you to contact them and also the following individuals who are in key leadership positions in the Legislature:

1 .Joe Aresimowicz, Speaker of the House

    Joe.Aresimowicz@cga.ct.gov

    860-240-8500

2 .Matthew Ritter, Majority Leader

    Matthew.Ritter@cga.ct.gov

    860-240-8585

3. Toni Walker, Chair of Appropriations

    Toni.Walker@cga.ct.gov

    860-240-8585

We all enjoy serving your child and your family. We seek to provide quality services and have wonderful staff who make our mission a reality. We will continue to keep you informed of the budget and our plans to address any reductions. We appreciate any assistance and advocacy you can provide to make sure the final state biennium budget responds to the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder and those with other developmental disabilities. For updated information and a link that will have email information for your town’s elected representatives please visit the Arc of Connecticut’s website: www.thearcct.org. This organization is advocating on behalf of all Connecticut citizens with a developmental disability.

 Kathryn du Pree

Executive Director

Benhaven

July 28, 2017


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