Families push to try and stop governor's plan to privatize state services

(WFSB file photo)

Some families with loved ones in group homes spoke out in favor of some big changes.

This week, unions blasted Gov. Dannel Malloy for privatizing more group homes and laying off state workers.

However, some families told Eyewitness News that they feel private companies can do a good job.

"There are many families who have one and can't do it," said Sue Bastien, a parent.

Bastien said she has four disabled sons, all of them in privately-run group homes.

Some of their disabilities are intellectual as well as physical. Two have severe autism.

She said her son Jamie was often restrained at the state-run regional center. Now, he rides horses every week and attends a day program.

In an effort to save money, Malloy said he wanted to privatize 40 group homes. Private companies can run them for cheaper partly because they pay their staff less than what union workers make. Privatizing will mean hundreds of state layoffs.

"We are losing 600 middle class jobs servicing the community," said Jennifer Schneider, Service Employees International Union. "On the other hand we have clients with intellectual disabilities who are losing staff they've had for 30 or 40 years, they are like their family."

The union representing the state workers said some may get hired by private companies. However, many will be unemployed. It called the move decimating and that people with disabilities don't handle change well.

Though, Bastien said no one will have to move unless they want to do it. She said even at state facilities, there are staff changes.

She said she would like to see some of the savings help those who need services.

"Unfortunately this is very disruptive to those who already have placements and they are upset," Bastien said. "I understand that as a mom but i just want them to know there are good homes run by the privates."

Privatizing group homes is expected to save $70 million, according to Malloy's office.

The families said instead of using all that money to fix the state's budget problems, some of it should be used to help more families.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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