Testimony on Safety Net Programs, February 14, 2013

2139 Silas Deane Highway                                                                      Raymie H. Wayne, Ph.D., JD, MSW, President Suite 205                                                                            Stephen A Karp, MSW, Executive Director

Rocky Hill, CT 06067                                                                            naswct@naswct.net

(860) 257-8066


Testimony Regarding SBs 851 852 and 27

Public Hearing February 14th, 2013

Respectfully Submitted by: Ashley Williams, BSW; MSW Intern, NASW/CT

Good morning members of the committee. My name is Ashley Williams and I am currently a graduate student at the University of Connecticut, pursuing my Master’s degree in Social Work. I am the MSW intern at the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and I am here today to represent NASW/CT’s stand on Senate Bills 851, 852 and 27. We support all three of these bills as we believe they are detrimental in helping two of Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations feel empowered by steering them away from a poverty stricken life.

NASW/CT strongly supports SB 851 because it is one of our priorities to empower Connecticut’s aging population to remain in the communities of their choice. With that being said, increasing the amount of assets that the spouse of an institutionalized Medicaid recipient may keep would allow them to stay in their communities. Many of Connecticut’s aging people have lived in the same neighborhood for decades and they have become attached to where they live. As we all know, the aging process is going to happen to each and every one of us regardless of how hard we try to put it off. So if this is a natural process, then why should we punish people when their spouse becomes institutionalized due to health and aging concerns? Just because someone’s spouse needs some extra help and cannot live at home anymore does not mean that we should make the non-institutionalized person live a life of poverty by diminishing the number of assets they can keep from their spouse.

We also strongly support SB 852 for some of the same reasons mentioned above. Giving DSS the resources to identify nursing homes that are in danger of closing for various different reasons would protect the residents of the nursing home on a much greater scale than they are now. Allowing DSS to help eligible residents to move out of that closing nursing home and into a community based setting is something NASW/CT sees as vital to the well-being and independence of Connecticut’s aging population. Although these residents are living in nursing homes and need the help of others to get through their day, they still have a voice and deserve to be heard.

NASW/CT also supports SB 27 with great favor as we represent over 3,200 social workers in Connecticut who deal with poverty stricken TANF recipients on a daily basis. Many TANF recipients are modestly educated and are therefore finding it increasingly difficult to find jobs that are life sustaining. We all know how important having a strong educational background is in finding a career rather than a job that can take care of the needs of you and your family. Many Jobs First Employment Services (JFES) recipients are being forced to work a certain number of hours in order to keep their benefits. Although working and making money is a clear way out of poverty, these recipients are finding themselves working in jobs for thirty hours a week that are leading them deeper into the hole of poverty rather than helping them find their way out. Allowing JFES recipients to increase the number of hours they may spend on education as part of approved work activities would be incredibly beneficial to the recipients and the communities as a whole. Although this is not always the case, we know generally that education is an empowering tool and it leads us down roads that we could not travel down prior to that having that education. Giving JFES recipients the opportunity to get an education as they are financially struggling through this time in their lives would give them the sense of independence and empowerment that they deserve just like everybody else.

NASW/CT represents thousands of social workers across the state who work feverishly with our most vulnerable populations. It is our responsibility to keep these populations feeling empowered and SBs 851, 852 and 27 would give us the opportunity to do just that. Giving the aging population the opportunity to remain in the community of their choice and allowing them to increase the number of assets they can keep from their institutionalized spouse empowers them and gives them the opportunity to be independent, which we all know is important to everyone. Furthermore, expanding the number of hours recipients of TANF may spend on education as part of approved work activities would greatly increase the number of opportunities these people have to attain a career that can help them out of the poverty that they are currently living in. For all of these reasons, NASW/CT respectfully asks that you vote these three bills favorably out of committee.

Thank you very much for your time.

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