DEEP RIVER - Mount Saint John, a residential treatment facility for at-risk boys and young men between the ages of 13 and 18, is talking with the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) about the future of its residential program, which has seen a reduction in the number of young men it serves.
Mount Saint John Executive Director Douglas DeCerbo said, "We are presently in negotiations with DCF to determine the status of our residential program. There has been no determination. Across the state, DCF has been looking to downsize residential programs. In that light, we decided to be proactive. We approached DCF to sit down with them and discuss our residential program, and other programs."
The decline in the number of young men presently in the residential program-there are approximately 16, Decerbo said-has led to layoffs at the facility. On
Feb. 1, Mount Saint John laid off 12 employees. Its staff is now at 62.
DCF Commissioner Joette Katz has been clear about the direction of the agency since her appointment by Governor Dannell Malloy. She has emphasized a community-based, family-centered approach to the delivery of services to at-risk youth. As a result, residential programs such as those offered at Mount Saint John have been seeing fewer and fewer referrals from DCF, social service agencies, and the courts. Those who are considered for residential programs are most often being referred to state-run facilities rather than private providers such as Mount Saint John.
Located off Kirtland Street, Mount Saint John sits on 80 acres along the Connecticut River. It was established in 1904 as an "industrial school" staffed by the Xaverian Brothers, a Roman Catholic order.
By 1919, with the future of the school uncertain, the Diocese of Hartford decided to move an orphanage operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery to the Deep River location. The Sisters of St. Joseph administered the home and school until 1958. Across the years it evolved into a residential treatment facility for at-risk youth.
"Mount Saint John runs educational, vocational, and clinical programs," DeCerbo said. "While we are talking with DCF, we are also working on growing these other programs, and exploring new programs."