In the Matter of a Complaint by


Marie Iadarola Fadus,








Docket #FIC 1999-077

Executive Director,
WeCAHR, Inc.;
and WeCAHR, Inc.,




September 22, 1999


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 24, 1999, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1.     By letter dated February 5, 1999, the complainant requested that the respondent executive director provide her with certain information and copies of records maintained by the respondents.


2.     By letter dated February 10, 1999, the respondent executive director responded to the complainant’s request and stated that the information and copies of requested records did not have to be provided.


3.     By letter dated February 18, 1999 and filed on February 22, 1999, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with her request.  The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents.


4.     At the hearing on this matter, the respondents argued that WeCAHR is not a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S., [formerly §1-18a(1), G.S.], and the respondents therefore are not required under the FOI Act to comply with the complainant’s request.


            5.  The dispositive issue in this case is whether the respondents WeCAHR and its executive director, are the functional equivalents of public agencies and consequently are subject to the requirements of the FOI Act. 


            6.   Section 1-200(1), G.S. [formerly §1-18a(1), G.S.], defines a “public agency" or "agency" to mean:


                        …any executive, administrative or legislative office of…any political subdivision of the state and any state or town agency, any department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official of… any city, town, borough, municipal corporation, school district, regional district or other district or other political subdivision of the state, including any committee of, or created by, any such office, subdivision, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official….


            7.  In Board of Trustees of Woodstock Academy v. FOI Commission, 181 Conn. 544, 554 (1980) (“Woodstock”), the Supreme Court adopted the “functional equivalent” test to determine whether an entity is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S. [formerly §1-18a(1), G.S.].  The test for functional equivalence to a public agency consists of the following four criteria: (1) whether the entity performs a governmental function; (2) the level of government funding; (3) the extent of government involvement or regulation; and (4) whether the entity was created by government.


            8.  Subsequently, in Connecticut Humane Society v. FOI Commission, 218 Conn. 757, 761 (1991), the Supreme Court elaborated that all four factors set forth in Woodstock are not necessary for a finding of functional equivalence, but rather that “all relevant factors are to be considered cumulatively, with no single factor being essential or conclusive.”


9.  With respect to the first criterion of the functional equivalent test (whether the entity performs a governmental function), it is found that WeCAHR primarily engages in advocacy on behalf of individuals who have mental disabilities and their families, to ensure that they receive proper service and care within the State of Connecticut.


10.  It is found that WeCAHR’s specific purposes, as set forth in its constitution are: 


“A. To promote the general welfare of the mentally retarded and

handicapped wherever they may be;


B. To foster the development of programs in their behalf.


C. To encourage research related to mental retardation and

handicapping conditions.


D. To advise and aid parents in the solution of their problems and to coordinate their efforts and activities.


E. To develop a better public understanding of the problems of the mentally retarded and handicapped.


F. To cooperate with all public, private, and religious agencies and professional groups in furtherance of these ends.


G. To serve locally as a clearinghouse for gathering and giving out information regarding the mentally retarded and the handicapped.


H. To solicit and receive funds for the accomplishment of the above purposes.”


11.  Although the purposes set forth in respondent WeCAHR’s constitution do not relate to a traditional or historically governmental function, §46a-7, G.S., establishes the state Office of Protection and Advocacy (hereinafter “P&A”) and provides that:


“It is hereby the declared policy of the state to provide for coordination of services for the disabled among the various agencies of the state charged with the responsibility for the care, treatment, education and rehabilitation of the disabled.”


12.  Further, §46a-11(6), G.S., empowers the director of P&A to “[c]oordinate and cooperate with other private and public agencies concerning the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the rights of persons with disabilities and enter into cooperative agreements with public or private agencies for furtherance of the rights of persons with disabilities.”


13.  It is found that WeCAHR has been a party to a personal services agreement (hereinafter “contract”) with P&A since 1987, under which WeCAHR is required to provide advocacy representation to the residents of Southbury Training School (“STS”).  Pursuant to the contract, the advocacy representation provided by WeCAHR consists of evaluation of each client’s situation, review of records, contacts with friends and relatives and with direct care, administrative and clinical staff; representation of the client’s interests at meetings; and where appropriate, pursuit of administrative remedies.


14.  It is found that the contract with WeCAHR came about in 1987 due to a federal court consent decree, under which the State of Connecticut was required to develop a plan to resolve certain unsatisfactory conditions at STS.  Under the plan, the state agreed to provide resources for an independent advocacy program at STS, to be developed by P&A.  P&A then elected to sub-contract for advocacy services, which ultimately resulted in the award of the contract to WeCAHR.


15.  It is also found however that P&A is not required to use WeCAHR nor is WeCAHR required to provide advocacy services at STS, in the absence of a contract with P&A, and essentially the relationship of WeCAHR to P&A is that of a contractor.


16.  It is also found that WeCAHR would continue, although on a much smaller scale, to operate and provide other advocacy services without the contract with P&A relating to advocacy at STS.


17.  It is concluded that the coordination of services for the disabled has evolved into a governmental function, to the degree set forth in §46a-7, G.S.; however, under the facts of this case, it is further concluded that WeCAHR is not performing a governmental function simply by performing its advocacy service to government, pursuant to contract. 


18.  With respect to the second criterion of the functional equivalent test (the level of government funding), it is found that WeCAHR’s budget for fiscal year 1999 was $326,253.00 and that 68% of its total budget revenue is derived from public funds in the form of federal and state grants, town contributions and WeCAHR’s contract with P&A.


19.  It is concluded that WeCAHR is substantially funded by government.


20.  With respect to the third criterion of the functional equivalent test (the extent of government involvement or regulation), it is found that WeCAHR is governed by a board of directors, which elects its own members after a nominating committee (consisting of members of WeCAHR and at least one WeCAHR board member) reports its list of nominees to the board.  It is further found that there are no governmental appointments to the board of directors.


21.  It is further found that the board of directors is responsible for the conduct of WeCAHR, without any control by, or input from, government. 


22.  It is also found that the only reporting requirements WeCAHR has under its contract with P&A, are to:  provide P&A with monthly activity reports regarding disposition of individual cases on a monthly report form; meet twice a year with officials of P&A to review files and periodically, to discuss issues arising under the contract; submit both a plan indicating the number of staff positions and their titles to be funded through the P&A contract, an estimate of the number of clients that will be served and significant initiatives its staff plans to pursue and a budget form to be approved by P&A; and provide an annual audit.  P&A has no direct, day-to day control over the operations of WeCAHR.


23.  Aside from those items referenced in paragraph 22, above, there is no evidence of other government regulation or control over the operations of WeCAHR.


24.  It is concluded that WeCAHR is not significantly regulated by government.


25.  With respect to the fourth criterion of the functional equivalent test (whether the entity was created by government), it is found that WeCAHR was incorporated in the State of Connecticut as a non-profit organization in 1977, and that its full corporate title at that time was Western Connecticut Association For The Handicapped and Retarded which subsequently was changed to Western Connecticut Association For Human Rights, Inc. in 1991. 


26.  It is further found that WeCAHR is a chapter of The Arc/Connecticut and The Arc, a national non-profit organization on mental retardation.


27.  It is further found that the creators of WeCAHR consisted of parents of mentally disabled children who needed assistance in dealing with the various government agencies charged with overseeing issues concerning disabled citizens.


28.  It is concluded that WeCAHR was not created by government.


29.  It is further concluded that, on balance, the respondent WeCAHR and consequently, the respondent executive director are not the functional equivalent of public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S. [§1-18a(1), G.S.], and therefore are not subject to the jurisdiction of this Commission.


30.  In view of the conclusion in paragraph 29, above, the Commission lacks jurisdiction to order the disclosure of the information and records requested by the complainant in her February 5, 1999 letter.


The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.


1.  The complaint is hereby dismissed.





Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of

September 22, 1999.




Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission






Marie Iadarola Fadus

225 Crescent Circle

Cheshire, CT  06410



Executive Director, WeCAHR,

Inc.; and WeCAHR, Inc.

Lake Avenue Plaza

11 Lake Avenue Extension

Danbury, CT  06811







Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission