Current Issues: The Future of Southbury Training School
The Malloy Administration has not publicly set a timetable for closing STS. Gov. Malloy has stated that he intends to close the facility and DDS Commissioner Macy has termed the state's dual public and private system of care "an unsustainable paradigm."
Macy has stated he will use the Messier Court settlement as a basis for transferring STS residents to the community-based, group-home system. The placement process under the Messier decision began this fall.
STS families and guardians were involuntarily named as plaintiffs in the Messier court case and were not involved in the settlement. While the settlement states that guardians have the final say in placements of their wards, it also states that DDS has the authority to decide whether guardians are acting in their ward's best interest. Legislation is needed to stipulate that a guardian who decides to select STS as a preferred placement option shall be presumed to be acting in their ward's best interest.
The Program Review and Investigations Committee produced a report in September that claims STS costs twice as much per client to operate as the private group home system. However, the Committee did not compare services provided in the public and private settings. STS provides a range of medical, dental, therapeutic and other services that are not covered under most group home contracts.
The Program Review Committee used a flawed analysis in concluding in a report in December that STS and other public ICFs(Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded) in Connecticut are lower in “quality” than private ICFs because they were cited for slightly more certification deficiencies in FY 2010. The analysis failed to take into account the fact that each public ICF has on average four times as many people living in it as each private ICF.
STS must meet federal Intermediate Care Facility standards of care, which are higher than the waiver-based standards that apply to community-based group homes. In addition, direct-care staff at STS are better trained and have lower turnover than do those in the private group home system.
When apples to apples are compared in terms of services, we believe STS will be found to be at least as cost-effective as the community-based system. STS’s cost-effectiveness would only be increased if the facility were once again opened to new admissions.