Why is the Department of Developmental Services So Afraid of Publicity?

by Robin Latta, Our Families Can’t Wait

When it comes to the privatization of CT group homes for residents who cannot speak for themselves, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) strikes out to attempt to keep advocates for the developmentally disabled from talking to the media.

DDS is targeting people who speak out against privatization including parents of group home residents, State workers who are dedicated to caring for them, and other advocates who are against the lower wages and consequent frequent turnover of staff associated with privatization that would disrupt the good quality of care for residents.

DDS knows the public can easily grasp this issue and the fear they have is that we all understand too easily that people who cannot speak for themselves are most vulnerable to exploitation.

Recently, at a public hearing at the State Capital in Hartford a jam-packed crowd of union workers, parents, guardians and advocates spoke out before DDS officials to let them know that they wanted a fully funded DDS with core services to support those who need it most.

Early on in the process of this year’s efforts to privatize CT group homes, one of the parents decided to file a lawsuit against DDS to protect her son from being subjected to the possibility of him being cared for by low paid, unqualified caregivers.

DDS tried to fight back by taking her to Probate Court to try to take temporary guardianship of her son and his medical records because she “was not acting in her son’s best interests.” Why? Because the intense interest of the media on this case enabled her to tell the citizens of CT what was going on. And, in a courtroom full of supporters (which included the media) the legal maneuver by DDS was withdrawn a few weeks later.

At the same time, one dedicated State worker is being harassed because she was seen at a rally that drew media attention. Now DDS is trying to dredge up any employment history that could possibly discredit her.

These desperate tactics of character assassination are meant to frighten and deter others from standing up and speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

On whose behalf does the State act to punish the caretakers? Is it on your (the community’s) behalf? If not, please stand up and say so! Contact Organizer Colleen McGill, cmcgill@seiu1199ne.org.

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