Budget fiasco causes STAR to close today

STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way, an agency that assists people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, was forced to close today, July 26, due to there being no state budget for the current fiscal year.

STAR is one of the agencies affected by Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Emergency Resource Allocation Plan which has cut funding from community supports for people with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (IDD) who are already receiving services in the community by more than $44 million.

STAR’s one-day closure is the first of six ordered by the governor.

“This closure day is just the beginning of cuts to programs for people with I/DD,” said Katie Banzhaf, STAR executive director. “Each month that passes without a budget brings additional cuts to both day and residential services. Recent high school will remain unfunded and unable to attend programs at least until a budget is approved. We urge our legislators to come to a bipartisan agreement that fully funds private sector supports for people with I/DD.”

According to a press release issued by the organization, this closure affects other local agencies helping citizens. One program, Meals On Wheels, relies on STAR volunteers every Wednesday to cover five delivery routes and bring meals to more than 50 residents. Volunteers were needed to handle the routes. Bins of clothing may be left unsorted at Person-to-Person where other STAR volunteers assist each week.

Leticia Croke, residential services coordinator at The Marvin, a congregate senior housing facility in Norwalk, said, “Several of our elderly, low-income residents rely on STAR volunteers to do their weekly grocery shopping and look forward to their friendly visits each Wednesday. This change in schedule will upset the residents and cause us to scramble to find other volunteers to fill in”

STAR is a nonprofit organization serving individuals of all ages who have intellectual and developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, people on the autism spectrum and other birth-related challenges as well as providing support services to their families. The agency serves Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Westport, Weston and Wilton.

Information: STARct.org