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Lavielle Meets With Advocates For People With Developmental Disabilities

Rep. Gail Lavielle, second from right,  and  Katie Banzhaf (far right), Executive Director of STAR, Inc., with families and advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Rep. Gail Lavielle, second from right, and Katie Banzhaf (far right), Executive Director of STAR, Inc., with families and advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Photo Credit: Contributed

WILTON, Conn. --  Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) joined other members of the bipartisan Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) legislative caucus to hear from individuals, families, and organizations concerned about improving the lives of the intellectually disabled and their families on Jan. 15.

Lavielle represents parts of Wilton, Westport and Norwalk in the 143rd District.

Hundreds of people filled three hearing rooms at the state Capitol to share their concerns and personal stories with the I/DD caucus, which comprises legislators from both parties who have made a commitment to finding ways to use state resources more efficiently and productively to provide better services to the I/DD community.

All of the speakers at the hearing shared serious concerns about lifetime care and residential services for their loved ones.

Many said they had never received services and worried about what would happen if they were suddenly unable to care for their disabled adult children while others feared that their teenage children would not have services available to them when they aged out of the system.

Others currently receiving services were concerned that, with the state’s projected deficit, funding for those services would disappear.

“The most important question we have to ask is how to use the funds available for these programs most efficiently and wisely,”  Lavielle said in a statement. “The state’s focus has been on state-run residential facilities which are very costly and not always the best solution for all intellectually disabled individuals and their families. Different individuals and families have different needs, and the state must do a better job of tailoring services to those needs."

Lavielle said that the legislature will need to control overall spending levels and to make sure that every dollar is used efficiently to provide quality services to a wider segment of the I/DD population. To help families ensure the financial future of their loved ones with disabilities, Lavielle has introduced "An Act Concerning Tax-Free Savings Accounts for Use by Persons with Disabilities and Their Family Members." The bill proposes establishing a state program modeled on the federally proposed “ABLE” Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014.

The program would allow individuals with disabilities or their families to deposit funds that would be exempt from state income tax into an account to be used for education, health care, housing, transportation, employment support, assistive technology, and other expenses.

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