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Funding and staffing shortages force Connecticut women’s recovery program to close

Due to staffing shortages and lack of funding the program will close for the foreseeable future.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A local group from the New England Health Care Employee’s union called for action on International Women’s Day Wednesday from Connecticut lawmakers and Gov. Ned Lamont for funding to staff the Sisters Together Achieve Recovery or STAR program. 

The STAR program shut down during the pandemic, but due to staffing shortages and lack of funding the program will close for the foreseeable future. Advocates are calling for Lamont to use some of the states multi-billion-dollar budget surplus to fund the program. 

“This crisis can be addressed and saving lives requires restoring and expanding services, and with Governor Lamont's leadership,” said Rebecca Simonsen with SEIU 1199. 

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Lamont’s Communication Director, Adam Joseph told FOX61 in a statement “The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Department of Children and Families are still providing outstanding services and care to women and girls. With respect to both the STAR and DCF’s PRT programs, the agencies hope to reopen them once we have sufficient staff. The State of Connecticut has a multi-agency effort to recruit nurses and care professionals to address these needs. The state is facing the same nursing shortage that private sector care institutions, which is why the Governor and legislature are committed to continuing to fund job training programs in the health care industry long-term.”

As health care worker shortages continue in Connecticut some lawmakers calling for the state to put their money where their mouth is. “As we're thinking about our staffing issues here in the state, we should start paying people what their worth,” said Rep. Jillian Gilchrest from West Hartford. 

Despite the state saying services are still being provided to women and girls who are facing mental health crisis or substance abuse, advocates say closing one of the states top program is restricting access to women and girls of color.

“They deserve the right to live. They deserve the right to live and not have to worry about criteria in dollars and cents,” said Latoya Pemberton, a Recovery Support Specialist.  

The union calling for a meeting before the end of the month with the governor to discuss possible solutions.  No word yet on if and when a possible meeting could take place.

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