Capitol Connection: Strengthening Developmental Services

September 30, 2014

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

In Connecticut, the Department of Developmental Services works hard to aid families in need of everyday care. While DDS reaches many individuals, there are hundreds in our state with disabilities who cannot afford the care they need and are still waiting for state support.

As of August, 684 people with intellectual disabilities were on a waiting list for residential placements in Connecticut, including 31 seeking emergency placements and 653 ranked as “priority one” (P1) by the state Department of Developmental Services.

Not only is the P1 list long, but so is the wait, with some people staying on the list for years.

So, why is this shortage of care a problem for our state? And what is Connecticut doing about the wait?

Part of the problem is a lack of funding. Two years ago, the governor cut $30 million from DDS, which left major holes in program budgets.

This past legislative session the General Assembly took action to help those most in need, passing legislation to pump $4 million into DDS to help people get off the P1 waitlist. The $4 million is intended to provide residential supports and services for 100 individuals, including Community Living Arrangements (CLAs) or group homes, Continuous Residential Supports (CRSs), Community Companion Homes (CCHs), live-in companion models, and individualized home supports with family.

This funding was designated to help those most in need, so individuals must meet the following requirements before becoming eligible to benefit from the new funding:

  • Have a primary caregiver who is at least 70 years old as of July 1, 2014, and
  • Be designated a P1 for services on the DDS Residential Waiting List as of July 1, 2014.

There are approximately 160 individuals identified by DDS who meet these requirements and are eligible for funding. Some families declined services, either because they don’t need additional support yet or they already have an alternate plan. But DDS still has to prioritize the remaining individuals based on conversations with families, individuals’ needs, caregiver capacity to support a person, and availability of natural supports. About half the eligible individuals are requesting home support services while the other half is seeking residential placements.

Four million dollars can definitely go far, but it is only a start. We know it won’t cover everyone who is eligible and it definitely won’t stretch far enough to get everyone off the P1 wait list. And even the people who do get off the list may still have to wait for additional services if their needs exceed the typical $20,000 allotment.

Nevertheless, this is a positive start that aims to help people who cannot wait any longer. Next time you hear about waiting lists for state services, I hope you have a better understanding and perhaps a little more insight as to who those wait lists impact. All too often, people who truly need help are the ones still waiting.

Want to learn more about available DDS services? Visit: