In the 2000s, a collaborative group of statewide disability advocacy organizations formed to focus on advancing self-determination for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. The choices offered individuals and families in employment, day, and residential areas were narrow, tended not to leverage community relationships, and lacked flexibility and personalization. In 2008, joined by four additional organizations, we named our collaboration the Mass Alliance for 21st Century Policy or “MA21”.
MA21 alliance developed a number of trainings and products. One of the booklets guides families around “Connections to a Life in the Community.” Among other things it explores expectations and choices in life. You can find it here. We also developed a policy booklet, “Implementing a 21st Century Disability Policy” promoting our guiding principles and strategies to achieve a society that views disability as natural, where self-direction is available to all individuals and families, and supports needed to live integrated lives are provided. You can find the MA21 policy booklet here.
One area of MA21 policy advocacy is for more flexibility utilizing service funds. Related to more flexible funding was MA21 advocacy for passage of the Real Lives bill. In 2014 Real Lives was passed, placing the choice to self-direct into law and ensuring its permanence. Currently MA21 is focused on educating individuals and families about the option to self-direct and identifying any barriers to implementation.
To learn more about self-direction in Massachusetts, see the resources below. And stay tuned to this page for updates on self-determination and self-direction.
- A resource guide on choice, portability and provider selection is The Massachusetts Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver Program: Choice, Portability, Provider Selection – A User Guide for Individuals & Families.
- Information from the Real Lives advisory group including 2 documents under May 6, 2015, with information on service options and transition, Choosing Which Service Method is Best for Me and Important Transition Information Every Family Should Know.
- Find your DDS regional lead staff for self-direction, short summaries of the self-directed service options, and a schedule of self-direction information sessions for families and individuals here.
- DDS’ online learning site provides an overview of the Real Lives bill at this link: http://ddslearning.com/real-lives-bill/
- A directory of service providers and options if you wish to use self-directed services: https://massreallives.org/
- A Facebook page created by MA21 coalition for those interested in self-directing services: https://www.facebook.com/ConnectingRealLives/
MA 21 Partners: The Arc of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, Mass Advocates Standing Strong, Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, Federation for Children with Special Needs, Disability Law Center, Mass Families Organizing for Change, and the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network.