CSS services will cease at end of April - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

CSS services will cease at end of April

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The lawyer representing individuals with disabilities who first filed suit against the Government of Guam a decade ago has growing frustrations about the continued planning and lack of action to provide for his clients and others in the community. Last month consumers who are receiving 24-hour care and shelter provided by Catholic Social Services were informed that the organization would no longer be providing services because they didn't have an official contract with the island's public sector.

"That to me is a very big concern," noted Attorney Dan Somerfleck, "that we have people living in a program where they have no active contract." He raised his concerns during a quarterly status hearing before District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall this morning.

He continued, "But as an attorney hearing, yes we're going to do this and yes we're going to do this, but not having anything concrete, so to speak, is concerning particularly where clients are depending on me and depending upon me to ensure that things are in place."

Mental Health Director Wilfred Aflague assured the court that Catholic Social Services will continue to provide services until the end of April without a contract and management is hoping that a contract will be in place before that. Acting CSS Director Jesse Catahay says the letters were sent out to consumers because the organization cannot continue to provide services without a contract in place.

In fact, Assistant Attorney General David Highsmith informed the court that Catholic Social Services has two pending government claims - one that has gone to court and another for a claim of more than $150,000. Highsmith says the organization has expressed concerns that it continuously provides services to the government without being paid.

Federal management team member Dr. James Kiffer says he believes a contract will be in place before the end of next month to ensure there isn't a break in service for consumers, telling KUAM News, "And from the report that was presented in court today, it appears that we're still in the planning stage and that concerns me."

Dr. Kiffer reported on the federal management team's efforts and progress to bring the government into compliance with the amended permanent injunction. But for Somerfleck and his clients, they want to start seeing some movement.

"I think they've made some progress," he stated. "I'm guarded at how much progress they've made but I'm would not go so far as saying all talk and no action.  I think there have been actions and they have made steps in the right direction. Have they made as many steps as needed to be made at this point I don't know if that's true."

Somerfleck also said he would further address concerns about the federal management team in a motion he will submit to the judge. The team meanwhile believes that the government will be in compliance with the amended permanent injunction within 30-36 months.

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