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State To Close Ella T. Grasso Center In Stratford, Move Disabled Residents

Morna Murray, commissioner of the state Department of Developmental Services.
Morna Murray, commissioner of the state Department of Developmental Services. Photo Credit: Morna Murray/LinkedIn

STRATFORD, Conn. -- A regional center in Stratford that is run by the state Department of Developmental Services is one of two it plans to shut down this summer, according to an announcement made by agency officials this week.

The move, the DDS says, will allow state dollars to stretch farther while serving more people.

According to a press release sent out by Christine M. Pollio Cooney, the department’s director of legislative and executive affairs, set to be shuttered were the Ella T. Grasso Regional Center in on Armory Road Stratford and the Meriden Regional Center on Undercliff Avenue in Meriden.

The move is intended, Pollio said, to “re-appropriate funds” and expand access to services.

There are 40 residents and 171 staff members at the targeted facilities.

The agency operated three other regional centers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Cooney said.

State-operated centers often cost more than independent providers, she said, and the plan aims to “right-size: the amount of services provided directly by DDS.

The agency currently spends more than $1 billion to support 16,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities, Cooney said.

Residents of the Stratford and Meriden facilities will be relocated to one of the agency’s regional centers in Norwalk, Newington, or Torrington.

They could also be moved into public or private community-based settings.

This is the first time, Cooney added, that a center has closed since the Seaside Regional Center in Waterford was shut in 1996.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement Wednesday that he remained “deeply committed to providing quality services to the highest number of people possible with the best possible outcomes.”

Referencing the “new economic reality,” the governor said the state is doing the best it can to preserve funding for services.

Priorities, Malloy said, have to be rebalanced in order to keep serving families in need “within our budget realities.”

The governor said he was confident the agency “will handle these transitions in a thoughtful and sensitive manner.”

DDS Commissioner Morna Murray said the agency is trying to identify ways to use some of those closure savings in the communities.

“Our goal is always to provide services and supports that are person-centered,” she said in a press release.

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