FEBRUARY 28, 2008

Senator Meyer, Representative McMahon and members of the Select Committee on Children.  I am Peter O’Meara, Commissioner of Developmental Services (DDS), formerly DMR. I am submitting written testimony in strong support of the provision in House Bill 5131 (lines 429-431), An Act Amending the Statutes Concerning the Department of Children and Families, that provides for the disclosure of records to DDS for the purposes of eligibility and enrollment of clients in the Voluntary Services Program (VSP).  I thank the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for proposing this provision in the bill.
DDS now has full responsibility for voluntary services for children who have mental retardation and are otherwise eligible for VSP.  DDS currently serves over 350 children in the program with increases projected at 110 annually between new referrals and transfers from DCF’s VSP.  The main reason that access to DCF’s information is so vital, is because a plan needs to be developed that addresses both the child’s needs and the family’s with the goal of keeping children at home with the appropriate behavioral and in-home family supports.  Information regarding previous DCF services or investigations are important to DDS in order to develop appropriate supports that will address any important family dynamics that might otherwise preclude the child being able to stay home.
Without the ability to share this information, DDS does not feel it has everything it needs to plan appropriate services.  A child’s history is important to know for future and appropriate planning.  It increases communication and cooperation between the agencies and supports both DDS and DCF in sharing resources and programs for families.  It also ensures that a child’s health and safety needs are being met.  As mandated reporters, it is important that staff have all information about the child so that we may have the best possible outcome for the child and the family.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to submit written testimony on this bill.  You may contact Christine Pollio, DDS Director of Legislative and Executive Affairs at 418-6066 with any questions.