Senate Passes Legislation to Support Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

May 1, 2016

Hartford – Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington), Senator Henri Martin (R-Bristol) and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) today applauded the state Senate’s passage of a bill that helps individuals with intellectual disabilities waiting for state services.

Senate Bill 294 aims to improve communication between the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and families in need of services for their loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We have heard loud and clear the concerns of families of individuals with disabilities waiting for state services. Many feel they are often left in the dark because they don’t know where they stand on the state waiting lists or what resources are currently available to them. Some have given up hope altogether as they remain waiting for support year after year without knowing how close they are to needed services. This legislation aims to mitigate that uncertainty by opening up communication between the state agency and families in need,” said Sen. Joe Markley, who serves as ranking member on the Public Health Committee.

“This legislation is a direct result of the incredibly determined and tireless families and advocates who have come to the Capitol day after day to share their stories. They have committed themselves to fighting for change, not just for their loved ones, but for all families who must overcome challenges to meet the needs of their children. They remind us that one of the most important core functions of government is to help those who are most vulnerable and to ensure that everyone and every family has the opportunity to live life to the fullest,” said Sen. Henri Martin, who helped offer an amended version of the bill.

Sen. Len Fasano added: “I want to thank all the families for their inspiring dedication. I applaud the DDS agency, DDS Families First, and the Arc of Connecticut for working together with lawmakers to bring all ideas to the table. I also want to thank Sen. Gerratana and Sen. Bartolomeo for working so closely with Sen. Markley, Sen. Martin, Rep. Ritter, Rep. Srinivasan, Rep. Demicco, Rep. Staneski, Rep. Ferraro, Rep. Kokoruda and many other lawmakers to advance this bipartisan bill. This is an outstanding example of how lawmakers can work across the aisle to move our state forward.”

This bill requires DDS to provide families with crucial information about their eligibility status for state resources. Upon request, the agency would be required to provide families with information about their requests for funding, the Department’s response to such requests, as well as an individual’s Level of Need Assessment, individual care plans and priority status. Families will also be provided information annually about the DDS Regional Advisory Councils, which serve as local resources for support and services to families, so that they can receive the support they need and access the services available to them.

In addition to the legislation, DDS, families and legislators have agreed to work together over the summer and fall to develop a more open and transparent communication system between the agency and families who need services. The group will develop a consistent process to ensure that information about available services is conveyed in a timely and relevant manner without families specifically requesting information.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.