By Stan Friedman
CROMWELL, CT (September 9, 2013) — Ädelbrook Behavioral & Developmental Services (formerly Children’s Home of Cromwell) will expand its educational offerings to children with autism spectrum disorders after purchasing a new building recently.
The school will serve children ages three to 10, says Garrell Mullaney, president and CEO. It will include a pre-kindergarten class for children with autism as well as those without special needs.
The integrated classroom will give the children with special needs the opportunity to model their behavior after peers, and the other students a chance to get to know children with autism, Mullaney says.
The first two teachers have been hired, and classes will start in October, Mullaney says.
The nearly 9,000-square-foot building sits on 2.5 acres. “We’ve outfitted the classrooms with the best furnishings for kids in this age group,” Mullaney says.
Ädelbrook also has developed a three-year plan to develop a playground for children with special needs.
Mullaney says the building became available when another nonprofit residential program went bankrupt. Purchasing the building represents a turnaround for Ädelbrook, which the Covenant founded in 1900 as the Swedish Christian Orphanage and is now affiliated with Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, when its own future was threatened in recent years.
The state had decided to start placing children with families instead of in residential programs such as Ädelbrook’s, Mullaney says. That slashed nearly all of the nonprofit’s income.
The organization then began to focus on its services to children with autism and other special needs. Since that time, it has continued to grow.
Ädelbrook still provides residential care and schooling, but it now is home to young people ages 12 to 21 with autism or other intellectual and development disabilities. That growth also has included adding community support homes for people up to age 23 as they transition out of state institutions and into the general population. Each of the homes is designed for three people.
Ädelbrook opened five homes between May and June. It is scheduled to open at least three more in October.
“That is why we changed the name in 2012,” Mullaney says. “It no longer fit what we were doing.”
Ädelbrook is a blended word that honors the agency’s Swedish heritage. “Ädel” means precious and “brook” represents the ever-changing path of life, according to Mullaney.