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.
As we reported last week, we are concerned about the proposed MassHealth reductions in Personal Care Attendant services(PCA) and Adult family/foster care (AFC). These changes require legislative approval: increasing eligibility requirements for the PCA and AFC programs; and, cutting alternative caregiver and hospital days for the AFC program. The latter will have more of an impact upon those who are placed with non-family shared living providers who use alternative days (14 per year) to take vacations and a break from their caregiving duties. The eligibility changes heighten the bar for those with disabilities to enter either program. PCA and AFC services are significant today for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities as we advocate for self-direction and community inclusion. With the closure of facilities (for which we also advocate), these programs have become an effective part of our disability safety net.