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Little Flower shifting focus to psychological heath providers, transferring group dwelling providers to new supplier

Eight of the nine adult group homes operated by Little Flower Children and Family Services will be transferred to a new provider over the next several months as the Wading River nonprofit shifts its focus to boost mental health services, officials told Newsday. 

Queens Village nonprofit Innovative Resources for Independence will take over management of the eight homes while Little Flower seeks a provider for the ninth location, Little Flower spokeswoman Katherine Heaviside said Friday.

Little Flower, which also has a headquarters in Brooklyn, runs a total of nine group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, including facilities in Wading River and Valley Stream, The others are in Queens.

“This will allow these residents to remain in the facilities they have known as their homes,” Little Flower president and chief executive Corinne Hammons said, adding Little Flower plans to “work closely with the four residents and their families in the ninth facility to transfer their services to other program providers.”

Little Flower officials did not identify the location of the ninth facility.

The nonprofit’s children’s programs and approximately 45 adult group home residents are not expected to be affected by the move, Little Flower officials said. 

A message posted on the state Labor Department website indicated 98 Little Flower employees, including 35 on Long Island, may be laid off.

But Little Flower officials said group home employees are expected to be transferred to other Little Flower programs or receive job offers from the new management company.

“We do anticipate our staff will be offered jobs,” Little Flower chief operating officer Kerri Smith said. “We are working closely with them to set up meetings with them and our impacted staff to help facilitate that process.”

In interviews and public statements, nonprofit officials said the shift away from adult group homes was prompted by rising staffing costs and the difficulty of hiring qualified workers. 

In addition to adult group homes, Little Flower operates foster care programs, a Wading River residential treatment center for youth who have experienced trauma, and a home for boys in Rockaway Beach. 

Erin Silk, a spokesperson for the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, described the new operator as an “experienced provider within the OPWDD system,” adding, “residential services will be not be interrupted.”

The group home employees are represented by District Council 37 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME. A District Council 37 spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.

Little Flower’s updated strategic plan, released earlier this month, outlines an eight-step plan to “pivot away” from adult residential programs and “leverage our mental health expertise, vision and leadership by expanding to serve new populations.”

With Maureen Mullarkey

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