Blossom Philadelphia will close at the end of December

Blossom Philadelphia’s current Mermaid Lane headquarters.

Blossom Philadelphia, formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia, announced that it will close for good by Dec. 31. The nonprofit, which is headquartered in Chestnut Hill, operates day programs for adults and children with a wide variety of special needs.

In October 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) revoked Blossom’s license to operate community homes for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities after inspectors found “gross incompetence” at the nonprofit.

The state was in the process of transferring management of the its 32 group homes when Vincent McNamara, a resident at one of Blossom’s group homes under the supervision of the state, died after being given pizza, despite being on a doctor-ordered diet of pureed food.

According to a press release the company issued on Thursday, Sept. 13, it has “worked in a challenging environment to find a pathway forward,” since its residential program had been reallocated. It entered a process to try and resolve its struggling business but ultimately failed.

“As part of that process, we evaluated a wide range of strategic options including: reductions in staff, changing our business model and location, aggressively reducing expenses, and even considered opportunities with other agencies,” the statement reads. “After carefully reviewing all these options, we have made the difficult decision that the only feasible course is to close Blossom Philadelphia”

The agency stated that it will “work diligently towards an orderly transition of our clients to other providers in order to minimize disruptions in services.”

Marianne Roche, an intellectual-disabilities expert who worked in the industry for 50 years, told the Local she is glad that Blossom is no longer going to be in business.

“I think that since this whole debacle started, this whole agency has toxicity surrounding it,” she said. “It’s high time that the children in early intervention and the people that were in the day program are with more honest and capable providers. I just hope that the phase out that is done for all the current clients is done in an upright and responsible manner. My hope is that the Office of Developmental Mental Programs (ODP) will be a little more vigilant then they have been up to this point.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), approximately 150 individuals participate in Blossom’s adult training program. The agency serves 347 children in the Elwyn Early Intervention Program that services children ages between the ages of 3 to 5 within the Philadelphia School District, and it serves approximately 41 children in the Montgomery County Infant Toddler Early Intervention program that serves infants to the age of three.

Colin Day, a spokesperson for DHS, said the department has been made aware of Blossom Philadelphia’s intentions to close. In a statement, he said the department “will work with the facility and the individuals currently served by Blossom to ensure continuity of care.”

Blossom, which used to be known as the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Philadelphia, was founded in 1946, when six parents from Philadelphia came together to make a better life for their children who had been born with cerebral palsy. It changed its name last year.

Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at sueann@chestnuthilllocal.com or 215- 248-8804.