When Velma Williams-Estes became a widow three years ago, it really hit her that she had to plan for permanent care for her daughter Deborah Ann Williams, 46, who has Down syndrome. “I am scared,” Williams-Estes, 66, of Meriden, said. “Every day, every day, I pray to God that I’ll be here, that he will give me the strength and the stamina to be here for her entire life.”
To speak out for more residential placements for people like her daughter, Williams-Estes has joined Our Families Can’t Wait, an advocacy group formed last fall by Connecticut families who are waiting for homes and apartments to open for their children and grandchildren with intellectual disabilities. The advocacy group has been lobbying at the state Capitol to gain support for a $149 million proposal that would dramatically increase funding for new state-funded group homes, home support and community companion homes – licensed family homes for three or fewer people with intellectual disabilities. The group is receiving organizational help from the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199.