Budget cuts could hurt state's most vulnerable - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Budget cuts could hurt state's most vulnerable

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Katriona MaCauslan visits her brother Sandy at a group home run by BHcare in Branford. (WFSB) Katriona MaCauslan visits her brother Sandy at a group home run by BHcare in Branford. (WFSB)

As the budget fight rages on at the state capitol, families, who rely on help from state departments, spoke out about how it'll affect them at home.

These families said cuts to the department of mental health and addiction services will hit the most vulnerable people in the state.

Eyewitness News followed along to a group home to take a look.

For 14 years, Katriona MacAuslan and her husband Don have made the trip to a Branford group home run by BHcare to see her brother Sandy.

Sandy was diagnosed with schizophrenia nearly 50 years ago as a teenager. Katriona MacAuslan said his time at this home has helped him immensely, but watching her brother live with the disease has never been easy.

"You love someone, and you know that he'll never have a wife or a girlfriend, or a house of his own, or his own pet, or even a decent job, to make his life better,” Katriona MacAuslan said. 

That's why she fears what could come after the proposed $7 million of funding cuts to the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

BHcare said the cuts would affect at least 2,500 people and they'd have to stop taking in new clients after July.

"There's no way,” Trudy Higgins with BHcare, said. “With the cuts that are being proposed, there's no way we are going to be able to provide services the way we are accustomed to providing them."

Higgins said that's not just limited to mental health services, but domestic violence as well. Overnight and weekend staffing at their shelters would be the first to go and that's when the majority of women check in.

"So try to imagine, a woman who's being abused is calling during the night, in crisis, is needing somewhere to go and not having the staffing there to support her,” Higgins said. 

Governor Malloy's office released a statement to Eyewitness News.

“We of course know the importance of these types of services, but we also face a new economic reality in the state of Connecticut, one that has to adapt to that by making difficult decisions,” the statement said.  

They also point out funding to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has gone up nearly $82 million since the 2011 fiscal year, which is more than 13 percent.

But the MacAuslan's said with waiting lists already impossibly long, any funding cuts at this point, are hard to take.

"You have to believe that a tragic life like that has to have some hope somewhere,” Katriona MacAuslan said.

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