The former Developmental Center in Grafton has a new name.

The former Developmental Center in Grafton has a new name.

The Life Skills and Transition Center will hold a community open house next Tuesday to celebrate the name change, which became official July 1.

The name change reflects its transformation into a comprehensive provider of services that prepares people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to work and live independently in communities, according to Alex Schweitzer, superintendent.

“This is a huge milestone for the individuals we serve, staff, and for the people of North Dakota,” he said. “Over the past decade, North Dakota has dramatically changed how we provide services to people with disabilities to help fulfill their personal goals and lifelong dreams.”

The event will be from 1-3 p.m. in the Nutritional Services Building Conference Center. Guests should use the Dakota East Gift Shop entrance. Tours of the campus led by staff and individuals who live and work at the center will begin at 2 p.m.

The Life Skills and Transition Center, which is part of the North Dakota Department of Human Services, is nationally accredited and recognized for its person-centered community integration efforts. The center first received accreditation in 1989.

In 2007, the center began offering outreach services that support individuals in independent living arrangements, clinical and consultation services to support community providers and their clients, providing specialized community-based therapeutic services across the state, according to a news release.

New uses

Along with the name change, officials are looking to find new uses for some buildings on the campus, according to state Sen. Tom Campbell, R-Grafton.

Two buildings are in line to be demolished. However, others have been converted to other uses.

“We would like to see if we can’t do something with housing, to provide some variable-rate housing, kind of like they’re doing out west,” he said, referring to projects to increase housing in the Oil Patch region of western North Dakota.

The group is looking at potential funding sources and other options.

The campus already has evolved over the years to become a mixture of private and public uses to serve the Grafton and Walsh County areas. Tenants range from Northeast Human Services to the Collette Community Fitness Center.

Two other campus buildings serve as elderly housing: Hancock Place, a remodeled building built in 1911, contains 19 apartments; Villa DeRemer, has 30 apartments.

Local officials say the campus has plenty of room for growth.

New Horizons, a building vacated in 2008, currently houses two offices. It has the capacity for 56 beds, according to officials.

Center’s history

The facility was established in 1904 as a place to educate and care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 1933, its name was changed to the Grafton State School to recognize the training emphasis at the facility.

It reached its peak population in the late 1960s, with about 1,300 people being served per day through the Grafton location and San Haven, a satellite facility near Dunseith. However, admissions decreased and population levels began to fall when special education services became available in school districts.

In 1982, a U.S. District Court ruling resulted in substantial, court-ordered changes to North Dakota’s service system for people with developmental disabilities.

In 1989, the North Dakota Legislature approved a change in mission and changed the name to the North Dakota Developmental Center. The San Haven location also closed that year. The state began to expanded opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to live, work, and participate in their home communities.

Today, the Life Skills and Transition Center serves 86 people on site by providing specialized services and acting as a safety net for people whose needs exceed community resources.  The center employs about 375 people.