State Drops Move To Usurp Mother’s Guardianship
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The state has stopped its effort to have a medical guardian appointed for a resident of a state-run group home whose mother is opposed to the sale of the home to private operators.
In court filings, Lindsay Mathews has asked a judge to block the release of her son George Griffin’s medical and treatment records to the private contractor. In response, the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services went to probate court and asked that a medical guardian be appointed for Griffin and the records released.
DDS confirmed this week that the motion has been withdrawn.
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“We did not see the need to pursue this remedy and we look forward to working with Mr. Griffin and his mother to ensure he continues to receive the best possible supports,” DDS’s Kathryn Rock-Burns told the Courant.
“We were surprised when they did it, and we were surprised when they withdrew it,” said Mathews’ lawyer, Norman J. Pattis. “When they decide where they’re going, I hope they let the rest of us know. This has been enormously anxiety-provoking for my client and her son.”
A hearing on Mathews’ request to have a judge block the sale to private providers is set for Monday in Superior Court in New Haven.
Griffin has lived in the Hamden group home for 20 years.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has ordered the conversion of at least 30 state-run group homes and the closing of two regional institutions to save money, and to reflect a national trend toward the privatization of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Some parents whose loved ones are in state care have expressed deep opposition to the move, saying that in some cases relationships formed with state workers over many years have kept their sons and daughters alive, and they say they distrust the private contractors who have been chronically underfunded by the state.
“I am my son’s mother and I know what is best for him,” Mathews said in a statement earlier this month. “The Department of Developmental Services is not listening to parents and DDS’ actions will harm our children. It’s heartbreaking to feel so powerless about the future of your child. I hope DDS reconsiders their bullying tactics.”
The union representing workers who have, or face, losing their jobs in the private conversions said other parents who are opposed to the private conversions joined Mathews at the hearing.
In Connecticut, private care in group homes costs about $130,000 per client, per year — less than half the annual cost in a state-run group home. Residents receive funding from the Department of Developmental Services, and remain clients of the state when private contractors step in.
Nearly 90 percent of the roughly 16,000 clients of the state’s Department of Developmental Services already receive services through private contractors. There are examples throughout the private sector of people with highly complex medical needs, including feeding and respiration tubes, being well cared for in private group homes, say parents with children in private care. The private sector also cares for clients with a range of difficult behaviors, including self-injury and Pica disorder, which is an appetite for non-edible objects or substances, advocates say.
© 2016 Hartford Courant
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