DISID plans to take over management of several Behavioral Health programs

DISID's FY22 budget hearing was held Tuesday. (PNC video capture)

The Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities submitted its budget to the legislature Tuesday morning and part of that budget is a plan to take over several programs managed by Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

DISID’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 is around $5.109 million of local funds. Of which $1.049 million is from the general fund and $4.060 million is from the Healthy Futures funds. The total DISID’s budget request— including federal dollars — is $7.194 million.

Rita Sotomayor, DISID’s administrative officer and acting DVR administrator, provides more info on the Behavioral Health and Wellness Center programs that DISID is proposing to manage this coming fiscal year.

“The full amount of $4.060 million from the Healthy Futures funds is allocated to fund the respite care, personal care, personal care attendant, the community rehabilitation program and Karidat homes that are being transferred from Behavioral Health to DISID,” Sotomayor said.

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Speaker Therese Terlaje, who has oversight over DISID, pointed out the change in the agency’s budget and asked the DISID director more information on the proposal.

Phyliss Leon Guerrero, DISID director, said: “Ever since the permanent injunction lifted, the clients that are currently availing through Karidat CHP and respite (services)…they are clients that do have individuals with disabilities that may be intellectually disabled or developmentally delayed. Aligning the agencies with Behavioral and DISID … the clients that they have been serving for years are really falling under our guidelines of intellectual, disabled, and developmental delays.”

According to the DISID director, the $4 million only corresponds to the pass-through of contracts between the two agencies and it does not include the current personnel managing the program. She says the current program staff from Behavioral Health opted to stay at their current agency.

Speaker Terlaje expressed concern over the proposal, noting that DISID is already short-staffed with its current social workers handling more than 100 caseloads. Terlaje requested DISID to reconsider the plan.

Leon Guerrero says they have a current MOA with GBHWC for the assessment part of the programs and that DISID is the single point of entry when it comes to people with disabilities.

DISID provides services and administers programs for persons with disabilities. One of its goals is to promote independence, productivity, and inclusion of people with disabilities into the community.