Family Support Centers
Family Support Centers across the state provide a local presence and act as a hub for offering a wide range of general family support services and activities to families of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There is at least one Family Support Center in each DDS Area, with some Areas having more than one. Broad outreaches is the expectation for the centers and provide services to families from diverse cultural, ethnic and linguistic communities in the geographic area they are serving, which may involve creating partnerships with community organizations and other resources in order to provide culturally responsive services. Center staff are expected to be experts in generic resources and services in their respective areas and work with families to maximize natural supports. Centers are expected to encourage active family involvement and consultation to identify interests and needs in developing activities and service options.
Family Support and Autism Support Centers are able to assist families in submitting an application for eligibility and provide assistance and support throughout the intake process as requested by families. This includes helping families understand how to complete the necessary steps to apply for DDS eligibility (e.g., whom to call, paperwork). Families are able to access some of the general services of the Family Support and Autism Support Centers prior to their child or adult family member being found eligible for DDS services, such as Information and referral and trainings.
INFORMATION & REFERRAL
- Assistance to families in identifying resources and service options available in their local communities, as well as learning about other financial and/or state services for which families may be eligible (MassHealth, etc.), and provide guidance on how to navigate the service system. This can occur through phone contacts, 1:1 meeting at a variety of locations.
- Use of technology to provide a variety of ways to share information with families.
- A “library” of resources, such as helpful websites, fact sheets, community resources, information technology resource options, books, videos, etc.
Sponsor educational events and trainings on relevant topics of interest to families of both children and adults which are open to all families for participation.
Promote parent networking and mentoring, such as parent support groups, parent connections (1:1 matching), and sibling support opportunities, as well as parental involvement in organizing or leading activities, etc.
COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS & RESOURCES
Foster community affiliations and connections to explore and maximize the use of natural and generic resources and other potential sources of funding.
Comprehensive and individualized information, guidance, and support to families to address their needs, connect them to potential resources, assist with problem-solving, and help them navigate the service system. The level of involvement with each family will vary based on the needs of the individual and family. There are two types of Service Navigation:
- Short-Term Service Navigation The design is for families who will benefit from more individualized assistance for a period of time to obtain information, to receive assistance in accessing other services, or to receive guidance in addressing some specific problems. Development of an action plan with families occurs to focus on specific objectives.
- Extended Service Navigation The design is to provide ongoing support and coordination of services. Each Center has the capacity to provide Extended Service Navigation to an identified number of individuals/families. The Area Office must make referrals for this service, but the family, Family Support Center staff, or the Area Office can initiate the request. This service can also assist families to help plan and organize in-home supports they need to support their family member at home. Development of a Family Support Plan is an aid to remain focused on goals.
ADMINISTRATION OF FLEXIBLE FUNDING
The Department may provide individual, flexible funding allocations to families based on the priority of need of the family and available budget resources. This funding must be used for allowable supports, services, or goods as defined in the Department’s Addendum to the Family Support Guidelines and Procedures, January 2011.
Family Support Directory
The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) provides funding for family support programs and services across the state designed to provide information, assistance, and an array of supportive services to families with children and adults with disabilities who are living at home.
Any family can contact one of the Family Support Centers listed in this Directory for information and referral services. However, to receive other DDS funded family support services, an individual must be found eligible for DDS services and must be living at home with their family.
DESE DDS Program
The DESE DDS Program facilitates effective transitions from school life to more independent life within the community for students receiving publicly funded special education services who also meet the DDS eligibility criteria for services.