After state review, The United Arc to surrender program contracts

  • The United Arc office on Avenue A in Turners Falls. It also has offices in Greenfield, Holyoke and Athol. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 7/29/2021 9:06:06 PM

TURNERS FALLS — After a state Department of Developmental Services performance evaluation, the Turners Falls-based United Arc has been ordered by the state to surrender its Residential and Shared-Living program contracts in September.

The United Arc, which was founded in 1951 and serves people in Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden and Worcester counties through its offices in Greenfield, Turners Falls, Holyoke and Athol, will surrender its contracts Sept. 20 to Pathlight, a Springfield-based developmental disability support organization with an office in Greenfield.

The United Arc’s board of directors also voted to remove Lynne Bielecki as executive director.

Bielecki could not be reached for comment.

Bruce Biagi, president of the board of directors, wrote in an email that the Department of Developmental Services’ review was the reason for the surrender order and removal of the executive director.

“A poor performance on the OQE (Office of Quality Enhancement) licensure review (caused the loss of contracts),” Biagi wrote. “The poor performance on the OQE report was considered sufficient (reason to remove the previous director).”

The Greenfield Recorder has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the state Department of Developmental Services to request The United Arc’s performance evaluation.

According to The United Arc’s website, the organization’s Residential Program is a 24-hour support system that supplies developmentally or intellectually disabled individuals with their own room in a group home. Its Shared-Living Program, which is described as an alternative to the Residential Program, provides an opportunity for community members to take in one of The United Arc’s clients and make them a part of their family.

The United Arc will keep its Individual Home Supports Program, according to a statement from the organization. The difference between the two contracts being surrendered and this program is it helps people who live independently, while the other two provide in-home care.

“(We will be) working with DDS and Pathlight to facilitate a smooth transition of programs and individuals we serve,” Biagi wrote. “The United Arc will continue to provide services to the individuals we serve during the transition period.”

The United Arc stated that the organization will work to ensure that the individuals it serves won’t be “disrupted by the impact of this change,” with its work being “extremely important to the people we serve — now more than ever.” Pathlight Director of Communication Valle Dwight said that The United Arc and Pathlight meet and communicate daily.

“The two organizations are working very closely together. We have the exact same goals,” Dwight said. “I just think that Pathlight’s goal is just to make this transition as seamless as possible.”

The United Arc was founded in 1951 by Rita Marguerite Canedy and was incorporated in 1960. According to the organization’s website, Canedy had two sons with developmental disabilities and the only option at that time was to institutionalize them. Canedy wrote a letter to the Greenfield Recorder and found she was not the only one in that situation, which led to the founding of The United Arc as a community-based support group.

While the organization is surrendering two of its programs, the The United Arc state that it will “continue in some capacity — although it may look a little different in the future.”

Pathlight anticipates this transition to be finalized in October, should the intended 60-day timeline be followed.

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