Lawmakers opposed to planned closing of Grasso Center

March 28, 2016

State Representatives Laura Hoydick (R-120), Ben McGorty (R-122), Joe Gresko (D-121) and Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-21) today voiced their collective opposition to the plan announced by the state Department of Developmental Services Commissioner Morna Murray to close the residential operations at Ella Grasso Regional Center.

The EGRC, which serves clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, would be required to send those residing there to one of the three remaining state-run facilities in Norwalk, Newington or Torrington.

“The announcement from Commissioner Murray today comes as a disappointing shock,” said Hoydick. “I toured this facility most recently in January, and 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. We all realize that our 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.”

“The clients served by EGRC are the very people our precious ‘safety net’ is constructed to save,” McGorty said. “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. A solution to our state’s budget woes will put these vulnerable residents first, not last.”

Gresko was just as concerned, saying “Both EGRC workers and families served voiced their concerns during my campaign and although workers will keep their jobs, the population they serve does not adapt to change well. These devoted workers serve their clients and their families admirably, so I hope this decision can be rethought.”

“I reached out the Department of Developmental Services with concerns about the closures of the two state regional centers that were announced today,” Kelly said. “In this time of budget problems facing our state, we 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. DDS needs to provide more detail in how the agency plans to execute this change, and ensure that the individuals in their care are not harmed in the process.”

Hoydick noted that the Ella Grasso Center is one of the only state-run DDS facility that has a pool, and that she had worked over the course of a year with agency officials to ensure its proper repair and return to service after it had been closed for nearly a year.

In her memorandum issued today, the DDS commissioner cited the need to “adjust to the new economic reality” as the numbers of those eligible for DDS services climbs each year. The administration will be closing all residential operations at the Stratford location, as well as the Meriden Regional Center, by June 30, 2016. The commissioner stated that permanent employees of DDS working at those facilities will be redeployed “in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement.”