Town, home officials say progress made with group home complaints

Town, home officials say progress made with group home complaints


SOUTHINGTON — Town officials said there have been fewer police calls for runaways at a group home on Birchcrest Drive, which has been the subject of meetings between police, neighbors, state officials and local leaders.

The facility, run by Bridge Family Center, provides around-the-clock supervision for girls who have been removed from a home by the state Department of Children and Families or who don’t have a home. Most often they’re sent into foster care in two months or less. Bridge Family Center is a subcontractor of the state Department of Children and Families.

Victoria Triano, a Republican town councilor and member of the advisory committee on the issue, said the group home’s recent efforts have paid off.

“There have been a lot of changes there benefiting everybody,” Triano said. “It seems like things are calming down ... I think they’re trying.”

Dawn Miceli, a Democratic councilor, is also on the committee along with town and police officials. Miceli has repeatedly called for changes at the home to alleviate disruption to the neighbors.

Margaret Hann, executive director of Bridge Family Center, said the meetings and results show progress can be made when groups work together.

“I’d say overall things are going extraordinarily well,” she said.

She attributed the change to several efforts. Hann said they reconfigured the bedrooms and staff offices in the house. They also installed video cameras on the outside of the home.

The previous home director took another position unrelated to issues with neighbors, Hann said.

“We hired someone with a lot of experience. I think that’s helping,” she said.

DCF has also been sending fewer youths with a history of running away to the Southington home.

Despite the improvements, Hann said she can’t guarantee there won’t be runaways. Youths at the home have been taken from difficult circumstances.

“We’re going to have runaways. We deal with kids who, that’s what they do,” she said.

Neighbors had also complained about staff parking along the street and noise outside the home. Hann said they’d built an apron for the driveway to alleviate parking problems and planted arborvitaes to shield the house from the street.
Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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