TO: The DMR Community
FROM: Elin M. Howe
DATE: February 14, 2008
RE: Update 155

Message from Commissioner Elin M. Howe

Fiscal Year 2009 H.2 Budget Recommendations for DMR

On January, 24, 2008, Governor Deval L. Patrick and Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray released the Administration's budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2009. The budgetary direct appropriations recommended for DMR is $1,267,350,402. This amount represents an increase of $28.9 million from the Fiscal Year 2008 budget that will cover annualization of the FY 08 salary reserve, a portion of EOHHS $23 million salary reserve for FY 09, annualization of the FY 08 Turning 22 funding, funding for the FY 09 new Turning 22 class, and cost increases attributable to payroll, leases and chargebacks. Below is the break out of the proposed FY 09 DMR budget by appropriation account.

  • 5911-1003 DMR Administration and Operations $74,522,766
  • 5920-2000 Community Transportation Services $14,137,324
  • 5920-2006 Community Residential Services $568,961,352
  • 5920-2006 Residential Rate Increases $2,000,000
  • 5920-2010 State Operated Residential Supports $137,630,099
  • 5920-2020 Boulet Waitlist $88,340,110
  • 5920-2025 Community Day and Work Programs $128,959,457
  • 5920-3000 Respite Family Supports $55,044,228
  • 5920-3010 Autism Division $3,287,118
  • 5920-5000 Turning 22 Services $6,100,000
  • 5930-1000 State Facilities $188,217,948
  • 5982-1000 Templeton Farm Product Sales $150,000

March State House Celebration of MR/DD Month

DMR and the Statewide Advisory Council will host its Annual State House Recognition Event on Wednesday, March 26 th, starting at 10 a.m. in the Great Hall. This year, individuals and organizations from across the Commonwealth will be acknowledged and celebrated for their contribution in advancing and promoting self-determination and self-advocacy for persons with intellectual disabilities in the Commonwealth. Stay tuned for more information coming your way in the next several weeks, including nominations for the State House recognitions.

John Thomas Named Director of Legislative Affairs

On February 4, 2008, John Thomas joined DMR as the Director of Legislative Affairs. In this capacity, John will represent DMR's interests and work with our elected officials in the State House, including addressing constituency concerns. For the past several years, John has served as the Deputy Director at the ARC of Massachusetts working on legislative and policy matters.

Autism Waiver Program Update

The Department of Mental Retardation received 1146 applications from families interested in the 80 opportunities available to serve children in the new Autism Waiver. Under the process for selecting the 80, all 1146 applications were randomized by a computer program and the initial 80 applicants were selected from across the state to begin the eligibility process. This process involves first meeting MassHealth financial eligibility and then DMR clinical eligibility. To date, 16 children have been determined eligible and are being enrolled in the Autism Waiver Program. Services in this waiver program are only available to a child up until the child's ninth birthday.

The process will be ongoing until we are able to enroll 80 eligible children. The Autism Division will respond to all request forms received, however the Division anticipates that the eligibility process will take some time. New families who are interested in the Autism Waiver program may still submit request forms to the Autism Division. The request forms are available on the DMR website ( ). These new request forms will be treated on a first come first serve basis.

Massachusetts Aging and Disabilities Information Locator (MADIL)

In December, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services launched a new web-based, one-stop resource directory, MADIL, the "Massachusetts Aging, and Disabilities Information Locator." This user-friendly site lists resources and links useful to seniors, people with disabilities, their friends, families, social workers, case managers, independent living centers, senior centers, human service providers, and hospital and nursing facility discharge planners. Visitors to MADIL can search for community services and supports in one of three ways: 1) using a search term, 2) conducting an advanced search, or 3) using the "Quick Guides" to search for a specific type of service or support. Check out this new resource at .


On January 12 th, the citizen advisory board chairs joined members of the DMR Statewide Advisory Council (SAC) for a day-long symposium at Devens Commons. It was a busy day where board members were briefed on the Department's priorities and had the opportunity to attend more in depth workshops in the afternoon. Special recognition was also given to Cynthia Levine, Rob Cutler, Almanda Alexander, Dan Shannon, Gary Siperstein, Amy Robinson and Martin Adolphe who were leaving the SAC because their terms had expired. In her parting remarks, SAC Chair Cynthia Levine challenged the boards to continue building their membership, to do better in engaging self-advocates, and to keep up their legislative advocacy efforts.

DMR Commissioner Elin Howe took the opportunity to thank the SAC and board chairs for their commitment and leadership and to identify several priorities for the boards to work on. These included advice and guidance on the design of the proposed support waivers, the DMR budget, and community education about self-advocacy, self-determination, and emergency preparedness. During the afternoon, CAB Chair Lucie Chansky and Area Director Robin Harmatz joined Neil Lazzara for a presentation on Managing a Dynamic Citizen Advisory Board. Assistant Commissioner Diane Enoch presented on Emergency Preparedness, and Mary Lou Maloney from the Disability Policy Consortium shared ideas on effective legislative advocacy. The SAC spent the time developing their 2008 work plan which was shared with the CAB chairs. For more information about the SAC reTREAT, go to the SAC/CAB section of the DMR webpage,

Increase in MassHealth Reimbursement Rates for Dental Services

As a result of strong advocacy on the part of many internal and external stakeholders, the MassHealth reimbursement rates for dental procedures for adults were increased by approximately 8% as of October 1, 2007. Included is the increase from $26 to $42 for the "behavior management" rate (service code D 9920) in the service code description. This increase recognizes the challenges that dentists may encounter when treating individuals with disabilities. These increases will go a long way in supporting the invaluable work that the Tufts Dental Program provides, and should expand access to more dentists in private or clinic practice for individuals with disabilities who have MassHealth coverage.

M.A.S.S. 10 th Annual Conference

Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (M.A.S.S.) celebrated it 10 th anniversary at its Annual Meeting, November 3 rd, in Worcester. Nearly 300 self-advocates, family members, providers, and supporters from across the Commonwealth attended. DMR Commissioner Elin Howe was the keynote speaker. Executive Office of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Jean McGuire, Disabled Persons Protection Commission Executive Director Nancy Alterio, and Disability Law Center Director Stan Eichner were amongst the guest speakers. Voting held that day for regional representatives resulted in Colleen Barber from Western Region, Douglas Russell from Central Region, Mara Schusterman from the Southeast Region, John Mims from the Metro Region and Craig Powers from the Northeast Region being elected to serve on the M.A.S.S. board.

The DMR 2 nd Annual Diversity Conference

On October 17, 2007, DMR presented its Second Annual Diversity Conference, "Going Forward." There were almost 200 participants who heard from DMR Commissioner Elin Howe and keynote speakers, Tawara Goode, Director of the National Center for Cultural Competence at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development and David Tulin from DiversiTeam Associates. Eight workshops were offered that included discussions on Family and Staff Relationships, Integrating People with Disabilities into the Workforce, Understanding Power and Privilege, and Managing Multiple Generations in the Workforce.

MFOC Family Support Conference

On October 27, 2007, Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change (MFOC) sponsored a statewide conference, "Creating the Possibilities, One Voice for Individual and Family Support." DMR Commissioner Elin Howe, Larry Tummino, Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations, and other DMR central and regional office staff attended this conference along with about 150 families and individuals with disabilities. DMR, along with many other state agencies, also hosted a resource table during the day.

Inspiring, thoughtful and entertaining keynote presentations on the topic, "Imagine Better" were provided by Chris Peltier and Keith Jones. A series of workshops were offered to provide information, experiences, and helpful strategies on community building, transition, legislative advocacy, and implementation of Chapter 171 of the Acts of 2002, "An Act Providing Support to Individuals with Disabilities and Their Families." Laurie Burgess of the Disability, Policy and Programs Office within EOHHS also gave a talk on "Partnering with Families."

DMR's Annual Plan for Family Support

As a requirement of Chapter 171 of the Acts of 2002, "An Act Providing Support to Individuals with Disabilities and Their Families," DMR must develop an Annual Plan for Family Support based on substantial consultation and input from families and individuals with disabilities. DMR's Plan for FY '08 is posted on our web-site as well as a translation into Spanish. To assist DMR in obtaining feedback and input from families who receive DMR family support services on an on-going basis, a short survey has been developed which is also posted on the web-site; a Spanish version is also available on the web. These survey results will be compiled by DMR staff and shared with members of DMR's Statewide Family Support Council, and will help to inform changes to our agency's Plan when it is updated later this spring for next fiscal year.

Family Support - Making a Difference!

In the Spring of 2007, DMR made family support funding available to Family Support Provider Agencies across the state to offer vacation programs during the April school vacation week and during the last two weeks in June after the school year has ended. Families have frequently identified the difficulties these weeks present due to lack of other structured social or recreational opportunities available during these periods. Twenty-eight Family Support Provider Agencies provided a total of 53 weeks of vacation programming in April and June that served about 800 children and their families statewide. An array of interesting and exciting programs were offered, some of which included siblings of the children with disabilities as well. Since this was such a huge success last year, DMR is making funding available again this year for the February, April and June school vacation weeks. Proposals from providers have been submitted to the DMR Regional Family Support Directors. Decisions on the vacation programs to be funded will be based on geographic distribution, the type of program that is being proposed and funding availability. For more information, please contact your DMR Regional Family Support Director.

The 24 th Annual Human Rights Conference Set for June 10th

"Finding Passion for People" is the theme of the 24 th Annual DMR Human Rights Conference. The conference will be held at the DCU Center in Worcester on Tuesday, June 10, 2008. Watch the DMR web-site for more information on this great event.

Update on the Appeal in Fernald Case

On September 12, 2007, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Association of Retarded Citizens, and the Disability Law Center appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit challenging the reopening of the Ricci v. Okin case and the entry of an Order requiring DMR to continue to offer the Fernald Developmental Center as an ongoing placement option for all individuals residing at Fernald. A number of organizations, including the Association of Developmental Disability Providers and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services support the Commonwealth's decision to appeal the Order and seek to file an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the Ricci case. A briefing schedule has been set by the Appeals Court. Briefs are due from the Commonwealth and the other Appellants on February 5, 2008. Responsive briefs are due 30 days later. Pending a decision on the appeal, the Commonwealth will comply with the Court's August 14 th Order.

New State Operated Homes Open in Shrewsbury and Bedford

At ceremonies held in October 2007, DMR officially opened two new homes in Shrewsbury. These homes will be state operated homes and are expected to be fully occupied by the end of February 2008. The homes were built with chapter 689 funding administered through the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Shrewsbury Housing Authority for individuals who would be leaving Fernald and other DMR state facilities. Neighbors, families, and individuals gathered for the opening and listened to speeches from State Sen. Augustus, State Rep. Polito, Commissioner Elin Howe, two individuals moving into the homes, Dr. Al Bacotti from the Glavin Regional Center, and the Master of Ceremonies, Tony Cultrera, from the Shrewsbury Housing Authority.

In January 2008, a new state operated home was opened in Bedford. The house was built in collaboration with one of DMR's housing partners, the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, and designed to meet the needs of individuals leaving Fernald and moving into the community. Planning for this home began more than a year ago. Last summer and early fall, a series of open houses were held at the home where DMR staff met with interested families. Once the families expressed interest in the home for their family member, DMR staff worked with the individuals and their families in choosing bedrooms, furnishings and new day program providers. Transition meetings were held to assure that all the needs of the individuals would be met. As part of the transition, one resident's family had her 75 th birthday party at her new home where she was joined by family, friends and DMR staff in the celebration.

Incident Command System

On January 10 th DMR senior managers from the DMR facilities and regions attended training with MEMA officials on Incident Command System. The ICS is a management system that integrates facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure to enable effective and efficient domestic incident management. More information on emergency preparedness and related training opportunities is available at

DD/MR Massachusetts Emergency Awareness Initiative 
The DD/MR Massachusetts Emergency Awareness (EA) Initiative is a two-year collaboration between the Shriver Center and the Department of Mental Retardation to strengthen emergency awareness efforts of people with intellectual disabilities. Some of the work that has been accomplished through this collaboration included (1) working with providers to evaluate the web-based Assessment Tool for Emergency Planning developed by the National Association of Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (This tool will helpstates and provider networks assess their emergency plans); (2) using the Individual Service Planning process to include the development of personal preparedness activities; and, (3) the development and implementation of a curriculum to educate individuals with intellectual disabilities on how to prepare for emergencies.

EOHHS/DMR Awarded Federal Person Centered Planning Grant

In September 2007, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded to Massachusetts a 3 year grant that will fund an inter-agency, and cross-age, cross disability and cross cultural effort to advance self-determination at EOHHS agencies, including DMR, by implementing new person centered processes and tools and expanding the on-line resource locator (MADIL) to include more culturally competent grassroots organizations and informal networks. The goal of this grant is to give consumers real choice to control the planning and management of needed, age-specific, and culturally-relevant services/supports. Activities under this grant will include developing: (1) PCP strategies and tools focused on the individual; (2) assessments and interventions that strengthen informal supports for consumers, including caregiver assessment and support strategies; (3) training for professionals in critical care pathways and community leaders to support PCP and a strong community-based network; (4) training for consumers, families, caregivers, and PCP facilitators to ensure effective self-advocacy and understanding of self-determination and PCP; (5) strategies for building community resources and natural supports and increasing community connections, including a web-based community resource directories; and (6) a consumer-driven evaluation process with quantifiable outcomes.

NEWS from DMR's Northeast Region

1. DMR Lowell Area Office Supports Lowell Wish Project

The Lowell Area Office, for the second year, joined with The Lowell Wish Project, to bring gifts to needy families in the Lowell DMR catchment area. The Wish Project's "Magic of Christmas" program matches needy families with donors. Donors contact DMR service coordinators and together they develop a list of needed items for the entire family. Fifty people received gifts through this project. In addition, The Lowell Wish Project donated close to 100 toys to the children served by DMR. Also for the second year, the Lowell Area Office staff participated in a "Giving Tree" gift drive which benefited 15 individuals served by DMR. Gifts were purchased by the staff and delivered to the individuals just in time to be opened on Christmas morning. All three of these projects really brought the Area Staff together and was a reminder of the true meaning of the holidays.

2. Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior? Overview for Parents

On October 25, 2007, the Northeast Region of DMR hosted a free event for families entitled "Is it Sensory or is it Behavior? Overview for Parents." This event, on the eve of a day-long conference, was co-sponsored by the Regional Office and the Regional Occupational Therapy Department. The presenters, Carolyn Murray-Slutsky and Betty Paris, are nationally known experts in the field of sensory integration and have done ground-breaking work on the link between behavioral issues and sensory processing difficulties. This event complements the recent initiative of our Occupational Therapy department with families of children through Project ACCESS. Project ACCESS, a new program in the Northeast Region, provides both short-term direct consultation and ongoing regional educational opportunities for parents and caregivers of DMR-eligible children. The goal of ACCESS is to increase the safety and skills of children living at home who have safety concerns as well as learning, behavioral, social, and sensory challenges.

3. DMR Northeast Region-Workshop for Special Education Educators

Over 120 Special Educators from northeast Massachusetts attended a November 16 th workshop titled "DMR - Today's Reality." Amy Nazaire, Director of Family Support and Children's Services, and Veronica Wolfe, Clinical Director and Regional Eligibility Manager, presented information about DMR eligibility criteria and process for children and adults, children's services, including the Autism Division, the DMR / DOE project, the Autism Waiver, and MASSCAP and prioritization for services for adults including 688 students. The event was very well attended and well received. The Northeast Region plans to offer further events for the special education professionals in the Region. The next workshop will focus on Chapter 688 students and Transition.

4. Northeast Leadership Institute 2007: NE Region DMR

On October 17, 2007, the Northeast Region graduated its 9 th class from their Northeast Leadership Institute . Fifteen participants completed the seven-month leadership development program. Pat Cronin, Northeast Regional Director of Staff Development and Training and Deborah Reidy of Reidy Associates gave the opening remarks. Jane Ryder, Director of Northeast Residential Services, NE Region DMR, congratulated the graduates and awarded certificates to each graduate. To date, 135 people have graduated from the Northeast Leadership Institute which is a program designed to bring together people who are committed to becoming more effective leaders in the field of developmental disabilities and to provide them with state of the art information and strategies on leadership.

Northern Essex Community College (NECC)'s Direct Support Certificate Program Graduation Ceremony

Coordinator Mary DiGiovanni, along with family, friends, NECC faculty and administrators, held a graduation ceremony for the 27 graduates of their Direct Support Certificate Program. This was a combined ceremony for 2005-2007 graduates. The ceremony was held at Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill Campus. The Direct Support Certificate Program is an educational program especially designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of direct support workers. To date, 316 staff have matriculated in this program through Middlesex Community College in Lowell; North Shore Community College in Lynn; and Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill.

NEWS from DMR's Central West Region

Holyoke Chicopee Area Board Hosts Legislative Roundtable

The Holyoke/Chicopee Area Advisory Board held a very successful roundtable discussion with Area Legislators regarding issues that effect the Department of Mental Retardation on January 11, 2008 at the Elms College. Legislators, aides, and board members found the evening very beneficial and thought provoking. The college generously provided the space and refreshments for the event.

Annual Recognition Event to Be Held By Holyoke/Chicopee Board on March 25th

The Holyoke/Chicopee Advisory Board will hold its annual recognition event on March 25. The theme for the event is employment and people who provide the essential "glue" to support individuals in sustaining employment will be recognized. The celebration will be held at the Moose Family Center in Chicopee, which hosts the event annually.

Forum on Transitioning Scheduled for April

The Federation for Special Needs is holding a transition forum entitled "Belonging, Believing, and Becoming" on April 11 and April 12 at the Kittridge Center on the grounds of Holyoke Community College. For more information, please contact Julie Sinclair at the Federation (413) 323-0681 or

Happy Valentine's Day!

This information is provided by the Department of Developmental Services.