News and Events for Families

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 @ 02:45 PM

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 Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC)

in partnership with

Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC) and Riverside Community Care

“A Full Life Ahead”

~ a series of monthly workshops for parents and guardians of young adults with a disability. 

The series focuses on transition, employment, housing, friendships and other topics that will lead to interdependent, full lives in the community for young adults with disabilities.

Join us … Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Screen Shot 2014 04 17 at 1.17.00 PM resized 600

7:00 – 9:00 PM

MDSC Office

20 Burlington Mall Road -- Suite 261 Burlington, MA 01803

The current number of young adults Turning 22 eligible for Department of Developmental (DDS) services is 804 strong, 240 of those are identified as needing community based residential services.  Come learn about T22 transitional services, how state dollars are allocated and the process to access these supports.  

Presenter, Victor Hernandez, DDS Deputy Assistant Commissioner

Mr. Hernandez is the Statewide Coordinator for MA Ch 688 transition services, Legislative Liaison for DDS-primary contact with state legislators for budget development and constituent concerns, Communications Liaison, DDS Chief of Staff overseeing field operation duties with the 4 regions and 23 area offices and the Housing Liaison for DDS with Department of Housing and Community Development, MassHousing, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation and area/regional housing initiatives. 

Please RSVP to Adrienne Szafranski    Space is limited to 50!


describe the imageAll Aboard the Arc Rally 2014

oin The Arc of Massachusetts on May 7, 2014, for The Arc's major rally to raise public awareness for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The rally and entertainment program which celebrates the achievements and contributions of our self-advocates will take place from 11am-1pm in the Brewer Fountain area of the Boston Common.


All Aboard The Arc! is a statewide awareness campaign and pledge event in which anyone can participate - individuals, families, community members, local leaders, supporters of The Arc, students, and employee groups.

Please consider participating in this year's All Aboard The Arc! and REGISTER NOW.

For more information, please visit


 Screen Shot 2014 04 17 at 2.49.34 PM resized 600Are you a family caregiver for a loved one with  special needs, a chronic illness, or a disability?

 Friday, May 9, 2014


2nd Annual CARE Conference Connecting and Advocating Respite for Everyone

TIME:8:00am to 3:00pm

WHERE: Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel 181 Boston Post Rd W Marlborough, MA 01752

THEME: 3 R’s of Respite – Refresh~Reflect~Recharge

The MLRC is excited to offer this FREE conference for any family caregiver in Massachusetts. Keeping with this year's theme, 3 R's of RESPITE, workshop offerings will include both experiential topics like yoga and expressive art as well as informational topics like estate planning and advocacy.

We are fortunate to have Lon Kieffer, nationally known as DOC, Defender of Caregivers, as the keynote speaker.
Some financial assistance to cover respite expenses while you attend the conference is available. Request an application when you register!

VISIT – and click to REGISTER or click this link:


Email Questions to 


From the Arc:House Passes Omnibus Bill 151-0 - Unanimous & Bi-Partisan

April 17:  Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive Autism bill - House 4047. The bill was a combination of many of the pieces of legislation filed in January of 2013 as a result of the work by the Governor's Autism Commission.

The legislation would reestablish the Autism Commission as a permanent and autonomous entity, necessary since the previous commission sun-setted upon release of the report. It provides for an executive director to support autism advocacy, training and reporting. There are two specific areas directed to study - the long-term needs for housing and employment - in addition to the areas of study and recommendations previously covered by the commission.

DDS will now be directed to include in its eligibility guidelines the federal definition of developmental disability for people on the autism spectrum and those with Prader Willi. This change will assist many whose functional needs are not reflected by their IQ score and who are now denied access to DDS.

Public school teachers will have the option to attain an "Autism Endorsement" certification - a concentration in autism coursework and training to be leaders within their school communities.

A pre-tax savings account will be established - patterned after the federal ABLE ACT legislation- to allow all disabled families to save in a 529-style plan for expenses including education, housing, and any other needed supports and services.

The Arc thanks Representative Garrett Bradley, who served as a member of the Autism Commission and lead on the bills contained in the omnibus legislation that was endorsed today. His efforts to move this bill along (and the work of Gigi in his office) are deeply appreciated. When the representative was contacted about the bill's passage, he said "I am grateful to the Speaker for his strong leadership in proposing this Autism Omnibus Bill and thankful for the attention he has given to the recommendations of the Autism Commission. This legislation will provide vital tools assisting individuals with autism and Asperger's syndrome to make important strides in their quality of life."

House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey likewise played a pivotal role in vetting the bill and we are thankful for his efforts and support. The Chairman stated, "With this legislation, we set forth a comprehensive proposal to provide additional services to individuals with disabilities. By implementing these changes we recognize the unique needs of residents with autism and provide them with the flexibility necessary to meet those challenges. Our focus is on increasing access to quality services that provide the best foundation of care for both children and adults with autism."

Last, but not least, House Speaker Bob Deleo needs to recognized for his long-term commitment to the people with disabilities. During his tenure, the Autism Medical Insurance mandate was passed, the original Autism Commission was formed, the Children's Autism Medicaid Waiver began and training requirements for special education staff on assistive communications devices began. His enthusiastic support of the Autism Commission moved this bill to the forefront. The Speaker remarked, "I'm proud that this comprehensive, forward-looking bill is advancing in the House. I've heard firsthand that our efforts related to autism, particularly the 2010 insurance legislation, have had lasting, transformative effects. I believe this bill is the next, crucial step to make Massachusetts the leader in caring for residents confronting autism."

Through her role at The Arc as Director of Government Affairs, Barbara L'Italien has been able to coordinate advocacy for the legislative recommendations of the Governor's Commission on Autism. The partnership between The Arc and AFAM has proved effective. Over the past sixteen months many members of AFAM and the Commission participated in the advocacy.   Recognition to Amy Weinstock of the Autism Insurance Resource Center; Ann Guay, Julia Landau of MA Advocates for Children and Michael Wilcox of Asperger's Association of New England.  Executive Director at The Arc, Leo Sarkissian commented, "Barbara L'Italien, who served as Chair of the Autism Commission utilized her advocacy skills as a former legislator to make sure that passage of the Autism bill was a reality."  

In closing, Barbara L'Italien noted: "The passage of H4047 in the House today is the culmination of four years of effort studying and prioritizing the needs of the Autism community, filing legislation to address those needs and advocating for those changes. I believe that addressing the DDS eligibility issue will be truly transformational for those individuals and their families who were being left without a safety net. Thank you to the House for this groundbreaking initiative on behalf of so many families."  

After passage in the House, the bill will move to the Senate where historically there has been support for the development of autism supports.

See the House Bill here.    --





  The Cost of Special Ed

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