STRATFORD, Conn. — Stratford's delegation to the State Capitol is opposing a plan by the state to close the residential operations at Ella Grasso Regional Center and move its disabled residents.
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State Reps. Laura Hoydick (R-120), Ben McGorty (R-122) and Joe Gresko (D-121) along with Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-21) voiced their collective opposition to the plan announced this week by state Developmental Services Commissioner Morna Murray as part of a plan to cut costs and reduce the state budget.
The EGRC, which serves clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, would be required to send those people residing there to one of the three remaining state-run facilities in Norwalk, Newington or Torrington.
“The announcement ... comes as a disappointing shock,” said Hoydick. “I am personally aware of the tremendous efforts being made by those at EGRC to achieve needed cost reductions. This campus is well-maintained, and the clients and staff are happy.
"Cutting the services to this population, who are among the most vulnerable in the state, is an unacceptable failure of priorities. There is a waiting list of over 2,000 people for these services, and we should not be reducing our capacity to serve them.
Hoydick acknowledged the "state’s budget problems are dire, but those who are most in need, such as those served at EGRC, should be among our first priority when we consider possible solutions.”
But Murray cited the need to “adjust to the new economic reality” as the numbers of those eligible for DDS services climbs each year. All residential operations at the Stratford location, as well as the Meriden Regional Center, will close by June 30, she said, with the permanent employees redeployed.
“Closing this center and relocating the clients and staff to far-flung corners of the state at other facilities is a disservice to clients counting on this state-administered care, and those who dutifully provide it," McGorty said. "A solution to our state’s budget woes will put these vulnerable residents first, not last.”
Gresko said the residents do "not adapt to change well" and hoped "this decision can be rethought."
Kelly also said the state should not "be making cuts which put disabled individuals at risk. This transition needs to revolve around the needs, interests, and rights of the affected individuals, caregivers, and their families."
Hoydick said the Ella Grasso Center is one of the only state-run DDS facility that has a pool, and that she had worked for months with agency officials to ensure its proper repair and return to service after it had been closed for nearly a year.
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