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February 9, 2021

Goodwill chapter to pull out of brain injury program, shed 65 jobs

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED The entrance to Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut's Hartford campus.

Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut is laying off 65 employees after ending its participation in a state program that provides home-based services to people with acquired brain injuries.

The Bridgeport-based nonprofit notified state officials of the layoffs last week, according to a letter filed with the state Department of Labor. The chapter is separate from North Haven-based Goodwill of Southern New England, which covers New Haven and surrounding towns. 

The notice is required under the federal WARN act, which mandates that employers with more than 100 workers provide advance notice of layoffs affecting more than 50 employees at a single site.

While the nonprofit’s corporate headquarters are in Bridgeport, the affected employees work at sites throughout the state, Director of Human Resources Kathleen Portolese said in the Feb. 4 letter.

She said 11 of the 65 employees are part-time associates working “very limited hours” per week. 

The layoffs will take effect on April 30 when Goodwill officially terminates its participation in the program, which is administered by the state Department of Social Services. 

The Medicaid waiver program provides a range of non-medical services to help adults with acquired brain injuries live in the community and avoid placement in a nursing home, according to a DSS fact sheet. 

Jeff Wieser, president and CEO of the chapter, said discontinuing the program was an economic decision accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a continuation of a decision to partially reduce the program about two years ago. Wieser said federal funding for the program has not kept up with expenses.

Goodwill is providing job-seeking services in its career centers to the affected employees, and encouraging them to apply for open internal positions. 

The nonprofit is also working with the state to transition the 24 people currently served by the program to other providers. 

“A lot of our team members who will be affected by this will be going to some of the other providers, so in a lot of cases things won’t change,” Wieser said. 

Contact Natalie Missakian at

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