The Spring 2023 issue of our quarterly print newsletter Advocate is now available to read online.
In this issue, learn the latest updates about the FY24 State Budget and The Arc’s advocacy, prepare for upcoming legislative hearings for The Arc’s priority bills, enjoy a recap of the 45th Annual Legislative Reception, hear about exciting goings on from Pathways to Friendship and our chapters, and much more.
Celebrating 70 Years of Progress: Share Your Story!
This year, The Arc of Massachusetts will be celebrating 70 years of progress for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and autism: from institutions and segregation to inclusion and opportunities.
Innumerable advocates, families, public officials, donors, human service agencies, and friends have worked tirelessly to reach this milestone. Through their efforts, the 200,000 Massachusetts residents living with disabilities have more opportunities to lead full lives in the community than ever before.
Do you have a story about The Arc’s impact that you would like to share? Visit www.arcmass.org/70Years to tell us more!
In the Thick of the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Debate
By Leo Sarkissian
The state budget process began this year on March 1 instead of late January, due to the election of a new Governor, Maura Healey. As of late April, the state budget is heading to the Senate. We appreciate Governor Healey’s first budget for our constituents.
On April 24, debate on the House version of the budget began. It was initiated through the release of the House Ways and Means Committee bill, H3900, by Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz and the committee. The Arc worked with House members, including Denise Garlick, Sean Garballey, John Cutler, Jim O’Day, Michael Finn, John Lawn, and Christine Barber, as the committee prepared its proposal.
45th Annual Legislative Reception Highlights Continued Needs of Direct Support Workforce
By Katerina Daley
On March 7, over 400 people attended the 45th Annual Legislative Reception at the Massachusetts State House. Held by The Arc and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC), this year’s event marked the return to being in person for the first time since March 2020.
The theme “Disability Workforce Equity Now!” echoed the rallying cry of our work in the last few years for fair pay and equity for persons working as direct support professionals. The Arc recognized Senator Michael Barrett as our Legislator of the Year; MDDC recognized Representative Christine Barber. The event was co-emceed by WROR Radio host Lauren Beckham Falcone and self-advocate Amir Harper.
Advocates: Time to Get Ready for Legislative Hearings!
By Maura Sullivan
The Arc of Massachusetts’ priority bills have been assigned to committees and hearings have been scheduled. Our broad platform covers nine legislative committees with the majority assigned to the committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities.
The first hearing on June 13 includes our highest priority bill (H171/S83) which will significantly impact the workforce shortage crisis by raising salaries to a more competitive rate, bringing wages up to approximately $22 per hour. The Arc, members of our Government Affairs Committee, constituents, providers, and other partners in advocacy will provide testimony.
The Individualized Education Plan (IEP): A Tool for Supporting Friendship at School
By Rachel Hayward
There has been a lot of buzz around the new Individualized Education Plan (IEP) form that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) created and will be implementing by fall 2024.
This new form provides more opportunities for student and family input and collaboration, with an emphasis on the student’s strengths, visions, and goals. At this juncture, it is important to remind students, families, and school staff that the IEP not only supports academic goals, but is a powerful tool for social emotional goals as well, including those focused on building relationships.