Yesterday’s 37th Annual legislative reception moderated by Brian Leary, reverberated throughout the state house. The three leaders of state government, the Governor and heads of the respective branches of the legislature all honored our attendees with their participation. Governor Charlie Baker not only shared his commitment to disability services, but spent several minutes shaking hands and posing for pictures with many of the attendees. He listened attentively as one parent shared her concerns about the loss of family support services. The Governor commented on the wonderful opening by Mary Ann Ziegler who sang the national anthem at the start of the reception. Mary Ann’s mother, the late Martha Ziegler, was one of the early pioneers in disability advocacy and she would have been proud to hear her daughter at the State House.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services found that the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) violated the rights of a mother with developmental disabilities. The mother was denied the opportunity to benefit from supports and services following the removal of her two-day-old infant, and over the next two years as she was seeking to reunite with her daughter. Unfortunately, despite research that affirms the ability of parents with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) to raise a child successfully with appropriate and effective supports, access to these supports continues to be limited, fragmented and uncertain. The Arc is a strong proponent of the right of parents with I/DD to raise children with supports, as needed, from family, agencies and the community.