The recent decision by the Malloy administration to remove services from the most vulnerable citizens in Connecticut is just terrible!

The people who are served by the Southbury Training Center participate in day programs which provide them with meaningful activities and in some cases, gainful employment.

Day services, as well as mental health services, are often the bright spot in these individuals’ day, but these programs are slated to be cut or eliminated, and all staff will purportedly be laid off by the end of this year.

Of course, I want to keep my job, but I also am very concerned that the state is not giving enough consideration to the individuals who count on these programs.  I know many will say these services can be simply outsourced to the private sector, however the quality of services in the private sector will never meet the level of care and service that State of Connecticut employees currently provide on a daily basis, and a jarring transition would be very difficult for the many clients with mental and developmental issues.

To say I hit the deck running on a daily basis is an understatement. I often arrive at work by 6:45 a.m. to begin my day. This is not required. My sign-in time is 8 a.m., but in order to have everything done in a timely manner, I donate 2.5 hours of my own time each week. I also spend my own money to provide coffee and other treats to the individuals I serve.   This kind of dedication is rare in the private sector where things are often done on the cheap and clients and staff alike are treated like cattle.

Throughout the years, I have adapted with those I serve to the many changes which have been placed upon us all.  I have laughed and celebrated with each of the individuals and have supported them in a positive way, even if I personally disagreed with the changes forced upon them.

For example, I am currently in an assignment with seven individuals who have been merged into one classroom.  Half of the individuals’ focus on participating in a paid employment opportunity while the other half are provided with opportunities to build skills. I have managed to successfully merge these two very different groups, providing each individual with the care and attention they need.  I love this career and the individuals I serve, but it is difficult meeting their needs with the state’s limited resources.

To think of what’s going to happen to them when those resources are gone breaks my heart.  These cuts are being done in a very callous fashion with little regard to how these abrupt changes will affect the individuals at Southbury Training School.

How can any person responsible in making these cuts sleep at night?  I implore everyone to call and write the governor’s office to reverse these cuts.

Roberta Fairbrother Curtis is a Department of Developmental Services Adult Service Instructor at the Southbury Training Center.

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