Social Service Groups Urge Saving Vital Programs

An alliance of community-based social service organizations in Connecticut asserts the state could avert deep cuts to vital human service programs and save upwards of $1.3 billion by moving state-operated programs into the community non-profit sector.

News release from CT Community Nonprofit Alliance which conducted a news conference in Bridgeport on Tuesday.

The cost savings estimated by the Alliance would come from eliminating the state’s duplicative human service system which currently provides the vast majority of all human services through community-based agencies, and the balance through state operated facilities. Human service programs provided directly by the state are significantly higher cost.

“The community-based human service system can be part of the state’s budget solution, and we are urging lawmakers to enact structural change,” said Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO of The Kennedy Center. “Services provided by the Kennedy Center, the Child & Family Guidance Center, and our colleagues across the state are of equal or even higher quality than those provided by the state and they are less expensive.”

Gian-Carl Casa, President and CEO of the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, urged lawmakers in Hartford to shift their focus, said, “Legislators are talking about taxing nonprofits and taking money away from services for the most vulnerable citizens. Shifting services to the private sector is a realistic solution that avoids taxing the services for some of our most vulnerable citizens; please consider it.”

The Alliance, which represents community-based organizations in Connecticut, has estimated the permanent and ongoing savings that would come from both five- and three-year phase-in of state-to-private programs for mental health and substance abuse programs and for services for individuals with developmental disabilities. The five-year phase-in savings are slightly lower, but still substantial: $169 million for mental health and substance abuse treatment and $804 million for developmental disability facilities.

The alternative to converting state services to community-based programs, Alliance leaders said, will be massive budget cuts.

Earlier this year, the Office of Policy and Management asked state agencies to provide proposals for 10 percent cuts. In a survey of member organizations, The Alliance found that if implemented, those cuts would force layoff of direct-care staff, salary freezes or cuts, elimination of programs, leaving thousands of vulnerable individuals without the life-sustaining services they need.

The survey of 77 agencies already operating with inadequate funding for more than a decade, found 80 percent would lay off staff; 65 percent would freeze or reduce salaries, 60 percent would reduce staff hours and eliminate programs; 51 percent would look to restructure employee benefits; 37 percent would reduce service hours and 31 percent would stop taking in new clients

By shifting those state services into the nonprofit sector for both developmental disability services, and mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, the state can continue to support individuals in need.

The billion dollars in savings from converting state services to community based includes estimates for shifting existing state programs for residential and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities, and mental health and substance abuse treatment.


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