Mother speaks out about budget cuts impacting group homes - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Mother speaks out about budget cuts impacting group homes

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A CT mother says budget cuts are affecting group homes in the state, including her son's (submitted) A CT mother says budget cuts are affecting group homes in the state, including her son's (submitted)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

The mother of a disabled son is voicing her concern over budget cuts.

Lois Nitch's son Andrew has been in a group home for 30 years, and now the home has closed.

Oak Hill is one of the largest non-profits in the state.

They help about 40,000 people with all sorts of disabilities, but budget cuts this year and in past years has forced difficult decisions.

"All the things I wanted for my son Andy, I worked hard to get into the places I thought were good and safe,” Nitch said.

Her son Andy has a number of disabilities. He's blind, has cerebral palsy, and suffers seizures.

Up until recently, for most of his adult life, Andrew was being cared for at a group home in Southbury but that home has now closed.

"I had to find another bed and there weren't a lot of options,” Nitch said.

Oak Hill provides a number of services for people like Andrew, from birth to seniors, but over the past 7 years, state funding has dramatically been reduced; $1 million for group homes and day programs and $100,000 for birth to three.

Oak Hill recently closed four group homes and two day programs. They've also eliminated birth to three as well as 60 positions.

"The rates don't allow us to run services and pay reasonable rates to our employees,” said Oak Hill President Barry Simon.

He said budget cuts have forced them to pay their staff lower wages, far less than unionized workers in state-run facilities.

Nitch said she had to move her son to another home, and it hasn't been easy.

She has also become an advocate for Andy and others who can't take care of themselves.

"They have to realize these are people who want to little, so little to be happy,” Nitch said.

She has managed to find another home.

The budget for the Department of Developmental Services is quite large, about $50 million, but Nitch and others feel the problem is how the money is dispersed, saying too much is going to administration and not enough to those who really need it.

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