Human services provides an opportunity for structural change

By Paul Choiniere, Day Editorial Page Editor
December 30, 2018

For years a debate has taken place as to how the state can best and most economically assist the developmentally disabled — people dealing with mental illness, those struggling to overcome the disease of addiction, the vulnerable elderly and others in need of human services.

Connecticut has long used a hybrid human services system that is neither logical nor efficient.

State agencies and employees of the state help some citizens in need of services. Others receive their services from a network of hundreds of private, nonprofit providers working under state contracts.

As Connecticut has confronted an ongoing fiscal crisis both state human services agencies and the nonprofit community have experienced cutbacks, but the pressure placed on the nonprofits has been acute as the legislature sought savings there that it could not achieve in the public sector due to contractual labor obligations.

The General Assembly and incoming governor Ned Lamont have an opportunity over the next few years to decide whether to continue with the hybrid system, with its arbitrary breakdown of who gets served by state-sponsored agencies and who ends up in the nonprofit sector, or move definitively in one direction.

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