YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — More than 100 Youngstown Developmental Center staff members got the official word on Sunday that the center is closing, and they will soon be out of a job.
Anger and frustration filled the room of outraged staff members during an emotional meeting, as the director informed them that two developmental centers will be closing by July of 2017.
“I certainly didn’t appreciate what he said,” said YDC staff member Kevin Stringer.
Stringer expressed his concerns about the decision that will affect nearly 500 employees.
“I’m not going to sit around and wait for options. I’m going to go out and do whatever it is I have to do to provide for my family,” Stringer said.
The Youngstown Developmental Center said it is committed to helping staff members who will be without a job. The center will provide priority status for openings in Ohio, and host job fairs, career counseling services and meetings to answer training and unemployment questions.
“They pledged to help the residents, and they pledged to help the employees find new employment. And I, intend, as a state legislator, to hold the governor accountable,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan.
News crews asked to speak with the director after the meeting for his response, but a representative said he was unavailable.
40,000 people are on the waiting list for services, including a place to live. The Ohio’s Department of Developmental Disabilities said closing these two centers is the right thing to do because it is not sustainable use of state resources, while population in the area is decreasing.
Staff members, however, see it differently.
“This is about the governor’s move to privatize everything in the state. This is motivated by politics and I think the director is doing an excellent job of securing is own employment,” said Stringer.
For now, Stringer and his fellow YDC employees have a place to work until 2017. The department said they could close sooner than anticipated and if it does, appropriate notifications will be made.