News DDS Releases Updated Guidance on Visitation to Residential Programs

See Commissioner Jane Ryder's announcement on the updated visitation to residential programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Department of Developmental Services

Dear DDS Community –

Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our residential staff, families, and the individuals we support, DDS continues to see a decline in new positive COVID-19 cases and across the state.  Based on this data and the feedback received from families regarding our Outdoor Visitation Guidance (issued June 10, 2020), DDS has revised our Visitation Guidance. 

Find the revised guidance here. It includes:

  • Extending current time limits for group home visits
  • Guidance on safe physical contact with your loved one
  • Off-site visitation including home visits, effective July 3rd

These guidelines were developed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to ensure safe visitation. Families choosing to take their loved one off-site must sign an attestation form to verify their understanding and compliance with health and safety guidelines that remain in effect.  All visits must be planned in advance with the provider agency.

We appreciate your commitment and cooperation as we cautiously update our guidelines.  We will always prioritize the safety of your loved ones and the staff who support them. As such, this policy is contingent on everyone continuing to be vigilant in wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and following the safety protocols outlined in the visitation guidelines. DDS will continue to monitor our COVID-19 data and will revise guidance as necessary.

Again, thank you for your important and valued feedback, and your cooperation as we meet the challenges of the COVID-19 virus together.

Please stay safe and enjoy the 4th of July weekend.



Jane F. Ryder



Read the guidance in: Chinese, English, Haitian Creole, Italian, Khmer, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Visitation Guidance Update: June 6

To the DDS Community –

In March, DDS stopped all visitation to our group homes and facilities in response to the COVID -19 crisis.  This very important measure was taken in order to keep our residents and staff safe and to do everything possible to stop the spread of the virus. 

I know it has been very difficult for families not to be able to see their sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.  Although our staff have tried creative ways to keep connections through phone calls, FaceTime, and Zoom, nothing replaces seeing your loved one face to face.

The revised Visitation Policy for DDS Residential Programs, which will go into effect on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 can be found here.

Although this new guidance allows for in-person visits, it still includes restrictions – meeting outdoors only, screening visitors for symptoms of illness and fever, wearing face coverings, and no touching – that we must follow to keep our community safe.  There is nothing that can replace the physical embrace of your loved one, however, it is a step in the right direction.

We will continue to enforce proper procedures in infection control, cleaning, good hygiene, and the wearing of PPE.  And we will continue to track the virus by monitoring the health of our residents, tracking positive cases, and making testing available to individuals and staff.  We hope to revise our visitation policy further, as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Thank you for your ongoing patience and your willingness to work with us as we meet the challenge of this pandemic.  I know your loved ones cannot wait to see you.

Jane F. Ryder

Department of Developmental Services  

The Department of Developmental Services provides supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder to enhance opportunities to become fully engaged members of their community.