Malloy names Edelstein liaison to community service providers

Terry Edelstein, a social-services advocate for 30 years at the State Capitol, was named Monday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as his liaison to the private non-profit agencies that Connecticut pays $1.2 billion annually for a wide range of services to 500,000 residents.

Edelstein, 63, will assume a cabinet-level post responsible for trying to coordinate services from 350 non-profits through contracts with every major state agency. She begins work Oct. 5 in the $115,000-a-year job.

The appointment means deferring retirement plans for Edelstein, who has been a witness to the dramatically expanding role of non-profits over a 30-year career. Edelstein had announced in April she was resigning at the end of 2012 as president and chief executive of the Connecticut Community Providers Association.

Edelstein and Malloy

Terry Edelstein with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Malloy created the liaison position in his first days as governor, an acknowledgement of the role the agencies play, as well as the fiscal pressures that threatened the state’s safety net for those who rely on public services.

“Engaging the not-for-profit community is a concerted, strategic way to maximize services and minimize costs and is a large part  of how we absolutely secure our safety net in our state,” Malloy said.

Funding levels for non-profits has been constant source of tension for the Malloy administration as it navigated two difficult budgets. In his first year, Malloy inherited a projected deficit of $3.6 billion.

Edelstein was a member of Malloy’s transition team, but the association she led for three decades also was cast an advocate for funding in an environment where the governor’s budget staff was desperate to find cuts. Malloy generally is credited for protecting core services.

The administration had been consulting with Edelstein about possible successors to Deborah W. Heinrich, who left the liaison post in February without a long-term successor. The consultations turned into an effort to recruit Edelstein.

“I am so pleased and honored to be designated by Gov. Malloy as his non-profit liaison,” Edelstein said. “The position provides an important linkage between community providers and executive branch and reflects a strong message from the administration of its ongoing commitment to non-profit health and human services organizations.”

In naming Heinrich, the administration touted the liaison post as the first of its kind in the nation.

Non-profits are contracted by nearly every major state agency to provide a wide range of services to 500,000 residents, including residential and therapeutic services for the developmentally disabled, assistance for the homeless, and counseling for the unemployed.

The Department of Developmental Services is the biggest contractor of services, spending at least $500 million annual on private group homes and other services.

She has a master’s of public health from Yale University and a B.A. from Oberlin College.