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The STAR Story

STAR began in 1952 when a small group of local parents created a communitybased alternative for their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Today we serve over 600 neighbors of all ages in Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

STAR’s services begin with infants and toddlers. STAR Pediatric Therapies at STAR Rubino Center in Norwalk enhance development, minimize delays and strengthen the capacity of families to help their children reach age-appropriate milestones. Our staff of professionals provide physical, occupational and speech therapies through direct intervention and coaching.

At three years of age, children may transition to their local school district or home school, however STAR continues to offer additional services through the age of eight. Family support services assist families with referral, advocacy and direct programming options such as Sports Buddies and JumpSTARs.

As young adults with IDD graduate from high school and transition to adulthood, STAR again becomes actively involved by providing job training that leads to employment. This employment allows individuals to gain independence as they receive wages, benefits, and enjoy making new friendships.

Through recreation, travel & leisure programs, and Day Service Options, STAR assists with the individual’s physical and emotional development. STAR creates life enrichment opportunities for adults to volunteer, take cooking, equine care and computer classes, to name a few, and to participate in music and theater arts when not engaged in work. Classes are hosted by a cadre of community partners including chefs, artists, teachers, health and fitness instructors, musicians, museums, nature centers, YMCA’s and businesses of all sorts.

STAR provides residential support for adults with IDD to live in STAR managed group homes, their own homes, and apartments. By providing training, supervision and support, STAR facilitates individuals to have freedom over their lives, authority to make their own decisions and to assume responsibility for important areas of their lives.

Recognizing the importance of technology, STAR developed an Assistive Technology Lab and Lending Library that is now available to residents of Fairfield County. The AT Lab provides assessments, devices, training, a lending library and follow-along services. Through this technology, individuals are given access, a voice and greater independence. Smart home technology is in each of STAR’s residences leading to independence. STAR was recently selected as Fairfield County’s Evaluation Center for the State of CT Dept. of Developmental Services.

Within each service, STAR customizes each plan to assist individuals in developing their unique gifts and talents. In 2024, STAR’s longtime Executive Director, Katie Banzhaf, retired after forty years of dedicated service. Today, MaryGrace Giuliano, welcomed as STAR’s new Executive Director with a wealth of experience and vision, leads STAR to a bright future of continued success and personalized service to local families.

Our Mission

STAR is a not–for-profit organization serving individuals of all ages who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as providing support services to their families.

We create opportunities for individuals to live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth by providing support, services and advocacy. We inform and encourage the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals. Our goal is the inclusion of all individuals with disabilities in their community.

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