NEW BRITAIN – Gov. Ned Lamont paid a visit to Klingberg Family Centers, Inc. Friday morning to show appreciation for area non-profit organizations that have been caring for foster children during the covid-19 pandemic.
“You are making sure that these kids know they are loved, that they know you are standing with them and that there will be better days,” Lamont said. “That’s what you do.”
Lamont was accompanied by Department of Children and Families Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes as well as Sen. Gennaro Bizzarro and an area foster mother, Merry Cassabria of Gales Ferry. They were joined by Lynn Bishop, president of the Children’s League of Connecticut, which includes 11 nonprofit organizations, Steve Girelli, president and CEO of Klingberg Family Centers, Inc., Alyssa Goduti, president and CEO of Ädelbrook and Naomi Adams, a shift supervisor at Ädelbrook.
Bishop said the organizations comprising the Children’s League of Connecticut serve 3,000 kids. She said the staff at these organizations has taken on many roles during the pandemic, from clinician to teacher to cook to parent. She thanked Lamont and Dorantes for supporting area nonprofits.
“We’ve never felt a stronger private/public partnership than we do now,” she said.
Dorantes credited the organizations that comprise the Children’s League of Connecticut of “running into the crisis while others were stepping back.”
“These nonprofit organizations stepped up to make sure that children get the support and the full range of services they need,” she said.
Adams said that while other sectors of the state shut down due to the coronavirus, foster care staff have kept working.
“We need to support these children and make sure that they are not forgotten,” she said. “These kids exist; they have needs and they are our future. Our staff is watering the seeds for the future, let’s not forget them either.”
Goduti said that nonprofits that provide care for foster children have been underfunded for many years. Funding, she said, has not been adjusted for the increasing cost of living.
“The issues we are facing have not been created by covid-19, though it has exacerbated them,” she said. “These are systemic issues. There are not a lot of Naomi Adamses out there to meet the demand. They should be compensated for their work.”
Lamont said the state needs to do better to meet the “complicated” financial needs of nonprofit organizations. He said that $10 million has been provided through the Paycheck Protection Program and that another $115 million of CARES
Act funding is going to assist nonprofits.
“The number one concern I’m hearing from nonprofits is that there has never been more demand and they need support to keep up with it,” he said.
Cassabria said she was happy to see state officials stand up to help.
“There are a lot of children who need good foster families who can care for them and put food on the table,” she said. “During this pandemic we have had to become teachers, therapists and playmates.”
Bizzarro thanked Lamont and Dorantes for coming out to meet with the nonprofits. He said they “play a pivotal role” and that covid-19 has only exacerbated the challenges that these organizations face.
“The governor and I are committed to helping you going forward,” he said.
When the governor left his meeting with nonprofit leaders, there was a group of six protesters waiting outside of the Klingberg building. They carried an American flag and a Gadsden flag and tried to get Lamont’s attention.
“We want him to open Connecticut fully,” said Aaron McCool, one of the protesters.
The group claimed that masks do nothing to stop the spread of the coronavirus and that they cause “psychological damage” to children.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.