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Waterbury YMCA settles complaint that it discriminated against child with autism

The Greater Waterbury YMCA has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut to resolve allegations that Greater Waterbury YMCA’s childcare programs and other services were not accessible to a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The complaint that triggered the investigation by the U.S. District Attorney’s office alleged that the Greater Waterbury YMCA failed to make reasonable accommodations for a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder so that they could fully participate in an after-school program.

The investigation by the U.S. District Attorney’s office found that the Greater Waterbury YMCA discriminated against the child by failing to conduct an adequate individualized assessment of the child’s specific needs, refusing to make certain reasonable accommodations to allow the child to participate in the after-school program and ultimately removing the child from the program. 

To resolve the allegations, the Greater Waterbury YMCA agreed to take steps toward improving access for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to the U.S. District Attorney’s office, the Greater Waterbury YMCA will revise its policies and procedures, conduct mandatory training for all employees and perform ongoing assessments of the need for reasonable accommodations. 

Going forward, the Greater Waterbury YMCA will be required to evaluate requests for accommodations on an individualized basis and has agreed to financially compensate the child’s family and will re-enroll the child into the 2022 after-school program for one year at no cost to the family. Jim O’Rourke, the Greater Waterbury YMCA Chief Executive Officer, will work directly with the family to make sure the appropriate accommodations are made for the child.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate and aggressively enforce violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, especially violations that affect children and other vulnerable residents of Connecticut,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery said. “I thank Greater Waterbury YMCA’s management for their full cooperation during this investigation and for addressing these ADA issues without the need for litigation. Their actions will ensure that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can enjoy the same benefits that other children enjoy while giving their parents the confidence that staff will be trained to ensure that their children are well cared for.”

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Tom Hopkins

A national, award-winning journalist from Bristol, Tom has a passion for writing. Prior to joining CII, he worked in print, television, and as a freelance journalist. He has taken deep dives into sexual assault allegations by Connecticut professors, uncovered issues at state-run prisons, and covered evictions in the New Britain Herald. He chose to focus on issues based in Connecticut because this is his home, and this is where he wants his work to make the greatest impact.

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