The United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Berkshire County recently announced it is expanding its services to residents of Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties, and will change its name to UCP of Western Massachusetts.

“The need to support people with disabilities and their families is well documented in both national research as well as our own local reports,” said UCP of Western Massachusetts Executive Director, Salvatore “Sal” Garozzo. “We’re addressing the increasing demand for additional programming for children, adults and families to serve more people in need.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 23 percent of adults in Massachusetts have some form of disability. This rise not only affects the children and adults who deal personally with a disability, but it also has a significant impact on their families. The Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers reports that across the state, more than 20,000 families in Massachusetts care for a family member with an intellectual or developmental disability.

“The socioeconomic impact is staggering,” Garozzo observed. “We’ve been receiving an increasing number of requests from multiple communities looking for services to help people with disabilities advance their independence.”

That’s why UCP — which serves people with all types of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, from infants to seniors — has decided to expand its programming and extend its service area outside Berkshire County, he explained.

“We’re also forming new partnerships, and have been hiring new caregivers and health practitioners to address this critical rise in the disability arena,” Garozzo said. “Despite the growth in this market, it’s often difficult for people to gain access to the services and assistive technology tools they need to lead healthy, dignified and independent lives.”

According to UCP of Western Massachusetts spokesperson Sheri Mathieu, UCP’s core services include: a children’s program, including early intervention; alternative residential options for adults like adult foster care, supported living and smart home technology supports; and family support programs for caregivers. The organization offers assistive technology to ease independent living for people with all types of disabilities, and provides hands-on equipment demonstrations and short-term loans.

“At this time, we serve 3,300 persons and their families,” Mathieu said. “Our long-range strategic plan is to help support 3,500 persons each year.”

Currently, there are two physical offices in Pittsfield (208 West St.) and North Adams (535 Curran Highway). UCP of Western Massachusetts is looking to open another office, potentially in Greenfield, Mathieu said, “as families in this area have been the most vocal about having UCP in their community.”

Currently, Mathieu said UCP of Western Massachusetts has close to 90 employees and also helps people with disabilities manage around 20 of their own personal care aides. But to coincide with its expansion into Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties, UCP of Western Massachusetts is adding staff, Mathieu said. New jobs can be found at the employment portal online. ​​​​

The organization receives funding from multiple stakeholders including the Department of Developmental Services, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Department of Public Health, MassHealth, private insurance, schools, workers’ compensation, and private foundations and donations

UCP of Western Massachusetts encourages any individual or family member who needs help due to a disability to call 413-442-1562. Or, to learn more about UCP of Western Massachusetts, visit ucpwma.org.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or mbourdeau@recorder.com.