The joint Fall 2023 and Winter 2024 issue of our print newsletter Advocate is now available to read online.
This jam-packed issue is 28 pages! Highlights of the Fall 2023/Winter 2024 edition include:
- Tips for advocating with your legislators and their aides
- A guide to personal advocacy for IDD and autism services and supports
- A behind-the-scenes look at the Operation House Call team
- An update on projects being funded by the Pathways to Friendship Community Bridging Grants
- A profile of two donors making The Arc’s advocacy possible
- A primer on the state budget timeline as we head into a new year
Strong, Effective Advocacy Relies on You
Since our founding 70 years ago, The Arc of Massachusetts has been advocating on behalf of people with disabilities and their families. Our successes in expanding services to thousands across the Commonwealth; increasing public awareness and fighting bias; and advancing inclusion in schools, recreation, work, and the community would not have happened without many individuals working to achieve a common vision. Volunteers, self-advocates, family members, attorneys, legislators, and policymakers have played critical roles in the progress we have seen.
But as you know, no nonprofit can function without financial support. The only way an advocacy
organization can survive for 70 years and achieve the high impact that The Arc of Massachusetts has had is with consistent financial support from dedicated people who believe in our common mission.
As we move into 2024, be one of those dedicated individuals and make a gift. There is so much more that can be and needs to be done for people with IDD and autism and relentless advocacy requires all of us to be part of the change. Let’s keep the momentum going for the next 70 years!
By Leo Sarkissian
We recognize the continued delays many are experiencing in our community as many individuals and families cope with limited or no services. For those of you who have no or limited day services, this article contains personal advocacy advice. We will use the term family members and participants. Most of those reaching out to us are parents or siblings, with some individuals with disabilities along with nonrelated caregivers including staff. We recognize all of you in our audience!
We know that a significant group of individuals require 1:1 assistance part or throughout the day. Within even that group, we know that there are individuals whose safety is at risk. They may have behavior challenges including serious self-abuse or aggression toward others, perhaps even running into the street without caring for safety. This advocacy fact sheet is created with you in mind, too.
By Maura Sullivan
In the $56 billion state budget signed by Governor Maura Healey, significant investments in health equity were made through the funding and signing of Operation House Call into law.
The Arc of Massachusetts developed this legislation and modeled it after our long-running and successful health equity program of the same name. We are grateful to our champion lawmakers – Representative John Lawn, who filed the amendment that was accepted by the Conference Committee and the Governor, and Senator Jason Lewis, our Senate sponsor. We extend our gratitude to the Governor, Speaker, Senate President, Chairs of Ways and Means Committees, and all other cosponsors in the legislature.
By Maura Sullivan
The Arc applauds the major investments which were made by Governor Maura Healey and the legislature in the final FY24 state budget. They are now signed into law and are being implemented across the Commonwealth, including $200 million in MassHealth Day programs and $173 million for Chapter 257. There were also significant increases for Turning 22, Family Support, and Adult Autism Omnibus, and specific amendments requested by The Arc, including $3.1 million for Day and Employment, language for those needing 1:1 supports for day services, and legislation and funding for Operation House Call.
Thank you to the Governor, Speaker, Senate President, Chairs of Ways and Means Committees and our champions in the legislature. We also appreciate all of you who have been engaged in the advocacy – your voices make a difference!
By Katie Driscoll
The Pathways to Friendship Project announced a Community Bridging Grant opportunity in September 2023, in which close to 70 community organizations submitted proposals to fund projects that would intentionally bring people with and without disabilities together to connect. Pathways to Friendship appreciates all the time and effort that went into proposal submissions, and the general response from community organizations to advance their efforts of inclusion.
After a thorough review of many deserving organizations, the Widening the Circle/Pathways to Friendship Advisory Committee selected eight community organizations to award funding and Pathways support to, for the duration of the implementation period over the next nine months.