Developmental center plans to close in Tipton Co. - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Developmental center plans to close in Tipton Co.

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(WMC-TV) - A Mid-South center helping adults with mentally disabilities could soon close its doors.

The Helen Tucker Center in Ripley operates the Tipton County Adult Development Center west of Covington. Parents of students at the center were recently notified of the closure when they got a letter in the mail that the last day of operation would be August 13.

The center teaches life skills to people who are developmentally disabled in Tipton County. It is the only center of its kind in the area.

"These are God's people, and I don't give up on God. We will do something. We're not gonna give up," said Reverend Bill Franklin, a concerned parent.

Earlier this year, Rev. Franklin led a charge to renovate or build a new Tipton County center for the developmentally disabled.

Franklin says he was shocked when he got the letter in the mail last week.

"This is the one thing in life that's theirs. It's not an academic setting. That's not its intent. It is a place where they can go and belong and have friends," he said.

The letter from the Helen Tucker Center Board of Directors blames low enrollment for the closure, saying they cannot fund the center any longer. They say from the first of this year until April, enrollment was down 19 percent.

Center staff is paid on the amount of students who attend.

"I think the first thing to ask Helen R. Tucker is if its a funding issue, how much funding and can we close the gap," said Tipton County Mayor Jeff Huffman.

Tipton County's mayor says there is a real need for the center in this county and he wants it to stay open.

"Hopefully there are other service providers, if Helen Tucker is adamant about closing it, that can come in and do just as good a job or better than we've had in the past," said the mayor.

State leaders say the Helen Tucker Center is responsible for continuing to provide service to these special residents until another provider is found.

Representative Debra Moody and State Senator Mark Norris are working to get a meeting together with parents of the students at the center to try and figure out what to do next.

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