Department of Mental Retardation
At a Glance
PETER H. O’MEARA, Commissioner
Kathryn duPree, Deputy Commissioner
Established - 1975
Statutory authority - CGS Chapters 319b – 319c
Central office - 460 Capitol Avenue,
Hartford, CT 06106
Recurring operating expenses - $702,242,800
Organizational structure – Services and Supports to over 19,000 individuals and their families, including birth-to-three services, are provided through a network of public and private providers across Connecticut. The Office of the Commissioner oversees and directs the following divisions:
Administrative Services; Family and Community Services; Legal and Government Affairs; Strategic Leadership Center; Chief of Staff and Human Resources; Affirmative Action; and the Office of the Ombudsperson. The department operates five regional offices, various campus programs, and an Operations
Center in Central Office, which coordinates all contracted services. In addition, the Department is the lead agency for the Connecticut Birth-to-Three Program.
The mission of the Department of Mental Retardation is to join with others to create the conditions under which all people with mental retardation can experience presence and participation in Connecticut town life, opportunities to develop and exercise competence, opportunities to make choices in the pursuit of a personal future, good relationships with family members and friends, and respect and dignity.
The Department of Mental Retardation, with the advice of the Council on Mental Retardation, is responsible for the planning, development, and administration of complete, comprehensive, and integrated statewide services for persons with mental retardation and persons medically diagnosed as having Prader-Willi Syndrome. DMR provides services within available appropriations through a decentralized system that relies on private provider agencies with which the department contracts. These services include residential placement, day programs, early intervention, family support, respite and case management.
In 2002 DMR launched CTHealthJobs.org, a public/private workforce development initiative designed to address the healthcare and human services workforce shortage that uses new technology to access and develop a competent, diverse and job ready workforce. DMR initiated this collaborative recruitment effort to develop a stable and culturally diverse workforce ready to accept the challenges and rewards of providing direct service to developmentally disabled individuals. In coordination with the Connecticut Department of Labor, we have developed an electronic database for the exclusive use of Connecticut MR employers. This system utilizes America's Job Bank, a nationally recognized employment development agency, free of charge. Candidates are accessed from the talent pool by each hiring entity. Each agency determines those individuals with whom further contact is desired.
The Linked Area Network (LAN) project was initiated during the fiscal year. This initiative will allow the department to manage data and information in a consistent and more timely fashion across all five regions, Southbury Training School and the department’s central office. It will also assure a common automation infrastructure and access to email for all department facilities and personnel. By the end of FY ’02 the project was 60 percent complete, with full implementation scheduled by the late Fall of FY ’03.
The department issued an update to its Five-Year Plan during FY ’02, following a series of public hearings. This plan provides a broad outline of future challenges and the strategies and activities the department will pursue to improve services and supports to Connecticut citizens with mental retardation. The strategic goals included in the plan focus on improving opportunities for increased consumer and family choice and control over their supports, enhancing systems to protect and reduce risk of harm to persons served by the department, and recruitment and professional development of the workforce that provides direct support to persons with mental retardation.
The department coordinated and provided leadership support to the legislatively created Advisory Commission on Services and Supports to Persons with Developmental Disabilities. The commission finalized its work and issued a comprehensive report in July of 2002 that provides a series of recommendations for changes in public policy to better meet the needs of persons with developmental disabilities who do not have mental retardation.
During the fiscal year the department also sponsored a special Children’s Focus Team that included broad representation from professionals, state agencies and family members. The Focus Team concluded its study and issued its final report, providing a series of recommendations designed to enhance family support and improve services to children and youth with mental retardation.
Commitment to affirmative action is incorporated into all aspects of DMR’s employment process including recruitment, selection, hiring, training, promotions, benefits, compensation, layoffs, and terminations. It is the objective of the Department to achieve the full and fair participation of women, African-Americans, Hispanics, persons with disabilities, and other protected groups in our workforce.
The Department’s affirmative action posture is reflected in its practices for selecting outside contractors. In line with this commitment, the department will not knowingly do business with any contractor, sub-contractor, bidder or supplier of materials who discriminates against members of a protected class. Additionally, DMR has established goals for the use of small businesses and minority and women-owned businesses and actively solicits their participation.
The Department strives to provide services and programs in a fair and impartial manner. To achieve this the Department has developed strategies to nurture the development of a culturally diverse workforce, expand outreach efforts, and provide services and communications that are sensitive to the language and cultural preferences of individuals and families from diverse backgrounds.
The Council on Developmental Disabilities is an independent entity, operating under the federal Developmental Disabilities Act (PL 106-402), composed of Governor-appointed members, and attached administratively to the Department of Mental Retardation. The mission of the Council is to promote full inclusion of all people with disabilities in community life. In 2001-2002, the Council budget was $765,349 for initiatives on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead implementation, Partners In Policymaking, a family conference, personal assistance, inclusive education, culturally appropriate supports, respite care, self-advocacy with kids, and a General Assembly Commission to explore expansion of state services and supports to all people with developmental disabilities.
Pursuant to Public Act 01-140, the Commissioner is in the process of conducting a study of the law regarding guardianship of persons with mental retardation in collaboration with designees from the Office of the Probate Court Administrator, the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, ARC-CT and FORConn. Not later that January 1, 2003, the commissioner shall submit a report containing the commissioner’s finding and recommendations to the Public Health Committee.
On July 1, 2002, the Department issued its notice of Final Agency Action regarding amendments to the regulations implementing sections 17a-247, et seq. of the General Statutes to clarify administrative hearing processes and procedures applicable to the Department’s abuse and neglect registry.
Pursuant to Public Act 01-154, the Department has issued a notice of intent to adopt regulations to establish and implement the policies of the Department with respect to the placement and care of clients who may pose threats to others in the absence of appropriate supervision and security.