This week for a change, I’m sharing the words of three other individuals that spoke yesterday during the 40th Annual Legislative Reception, held by the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council and The Arc of Massachusetts. We recognized Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Denise Garlick, and ceremony participants included Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senator Karen Spilka. Despite the threat of weather, nearly 200 people joined us – and another 140 people tuned into our Facebook Live, which is still available to watch.
Representative Denise Garlick and Senator Jamie Eldridge were honored as Legislators of the Year by The Arc of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council at the 40th Annual Legislative Reception at the State House. Each has been a strong advocate for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. Their efforts represent their strong commitment to a variety of social justice issues which they’ve championed for their constituents and for the Commonwealth.
The Supporting Families Campaign held its third annual Advocacy Day at the State House, on Tuesday, February 13. The day began with a crowd of over 50 families meeting to review the day’s agenda including the budget priorities of Supporting Families. Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc of Massachusetts, explained the importance of the DDS Family Support line items, Turning 22, and Autism Omnibus. Families were given materials with the line item budget “asks” and narratives, plus family stories to help illuminate the gaps in funding.
Governor Baker’s proposed budget for FY 2019 again keeps pace with the DDS Turning 22 program as more than 1,000 students graduate into adult services. In addition, a $5 Million increase is budgeted for Autism Omnibus which addresses those newly eligible with autism[i].
In this week’s video edition of Leo’s Letter, Leo discusses NPR’s important new series – Abused and Betrayed: People with Intellectual Disabilities and an Epidemic of Sexual Assault – and addresses the pressing need for change in sexual education and awareness within the I/DD community. He also discusses steps The Arc of Massachusetts is taking with Nicky’s Law in order to be able to prevent future instances of abuse.