ADA Settlement with Greater Waterbury YMCA Ensures Access to Programs for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

ADA Settlement with Greater Waterbury YMCA Ensures Access to Programs for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that Greater Waterbury YMCA of Waterbury has entered into a settlement agreement with the government to resolve allegations that Greater Waterbury YMCA’s childcare programs and other services were not accessible to a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).

The matter was initiated by a complaint filed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut alleging violations of Title III of the ADA.  Specifically, the complaint alleges that Greater Waterbury YMCA failed to adequately assist a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder who requires reasonable modifications in order to fully participate in the after-school program.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation.  Greater Waterbury YMCA is a private entity that operates childcare facilities that are places of “public accommodation” within the meaning of Title III of the ADA.

The settlement agreement resolves the complaint that Greater Waterbury YMCA was discriminating against the child on the basis of disability by failing to conduct an adequate  individualized assessment of the child’s specific needs, refusing to make certain reasonable modifications to allow the child to participate in the program, and ultimately disenrolling the child.  Under the agreement, Greater Waterbury YMCA is obligated to take critical steps toward improving access for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including revising its policies and procedures, conducting mandatory training for all employees, and performing initial and ongoing assessments of the need for reasonable accommodations.  Greater Waterbury YMCA will evaluate each request on an individualized basis, relying on objective evidence and current medical standards.  In addition, Greater Waterbury YMCA will make a compensation payment to the child’s family and will re-enroll the child into the 2022 after-school program for one year at no cost to the family.  Finally, the Greater Waterbury YMCA Chief Executive Officer will oversee the implementation of an appropriate childcare plan and will work directly with the family.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate and aggressively enforce violations of the Americas with Disabilities Act, especially violations that affect children and other vulnerable residents of Connecticut,” said U.S. Attorney Avery.  “Parents rely on dependable childcare in order to work or go to school, and every child should have equal access to childcare and educational facilities.  I thank Greater Waterbury YMCA’s management for their full cooperation during this investigation and for addressing these ADA issues without the need for litigation. Their actions will ensure that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can enjoy the same benefits that other children enjoy, while giving their parents the confidence that staff will be trained to ensure that their children are well cared for.”

The agreement is effective for two years, during which time the U.S. Attorney’s Office will monitor Greater Waterbury YMCA’s compliance.

A copy of the settlement agreement will be found on www.ada.gov.

This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney William M Brown, Jr.

Any member of the public who wishes to file a complaint alleging that any place of public accommodation or public entity in Connecticut is not accessible to persons with disabilities may contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 203-821-3700.

Additional information about the ADA can be found at www.ada.gov, or by calling the Justice Department’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 and (800) 514-0383 (TTY).  More information about the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt.

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