Cuts in funding are hardly news for Donald Armstrong of the Trudeau Memorial Center. He’s been dealing with them since he became CEO of the agency eight months ago. The Center provides services from birth until death to more than 1,000 mentally disabled persons.
Yesterday, Congressman James Langevin visited the Trudeau day services facility on Commonwealth Avenue to tour the building and bring the message that Trudeau and other agencies could face more cuts under the sequestration that took effect on March 1. Langevin couldn’t offer any specifics. It’s too soon to know how Trudeau Center might be affected.
“It’s unclear how the impact will play out,” Langevin said. But he has little doubt it will be felt, “if the Republicans insist on the cuts-only approach.”
As he and other Democrats advocate, Langevin suggests a “balanced approach” between cuts in funding and increasing revenues by closing tax loop holes for the wealthy and big business.
“Last I knew, they were making lots of money,” said the congressman.
Armstrong outlined cuts in Trudeau’s residential and day programs for the last three fiscal years. Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) funding of the residential program dropped $271,000 and $407,000 for the day program in 2012. So far this year, Trudeau suffered an additional $237,000 and $107,000 cut in state funding, Armstrong said.
With the reductions, Trudeau has redesigned its residential program to reduce the number of clients living in condos. Under that program, two clients were living in each condo with 24-7 services. Trudeau sold four of its 12 condos and moved those clients into group homes. This has enabled reduced staff costs.
On the day program, Armstrong said, the center has ceased taking new clients as it looks to convert to the Employment First program. The program, being pushed by the state, is designed to place clients directly into the workforce rather than contracting for work performed at the Commonwealth Avenue workshop.
“We want to make sure they can get work and find a job,” Armstrong said.
As for how Trudeau has survived cuts, Armstrong said revenues generated by other programs, such as Pathways, have helped offset some losses.
“We’re shifting dollars from some programs,” he said.