tackling problems, proposing solutions
SUPPORTbrokers of The Arc of Massachusetts are ready to assist you! Consumers or families can hire a broker to help them find appropriate services and supports to thrive in their community. Brokers can help consumers find transportation, a place to live, someone to help them with daily living skills, a job counselor, and other linkages within the community. Brokers can also facilitate and create a person-centered plans and help consumers apply for Social Security or health insurance, among other benefits.
Our brokers, independent of the Massachusetts system of state agencies, spend time with consumers to learn about their needs and goals. Even though brokers have experience working with a range of state agency services, they are primarily responsible to the consumer/family. Brokers develop plans, which are based largely on the consumer’s input. After a plan is in place, brokers help consumers find those supports and put them in place. Brokers know how to navigate the system and community to secure help and assistance as available.
All brokers are independent contractors who have been certified by The Arc. Certification involves a review of education, experience and references, as well as a criminal record check. Additionally, each broker must complete initial and ongoing training and follow a strict Code of Ethics. Individuals and families are asked to complete an evaluation at the conclusions of services.
Looking to hire a broker? Just want to learn more about the process and determine whether it's the right fit for you?
Contact Kerry Mahoney, Director of SUPPORTbrokers, at (781) 891-6270 x109 or Mahoney@arcmass.org.
Four Core Services
NEW: College Consultations
When life after high school includes college, Eileen Berger of SUPPORTbrokers offers college and post-secondary consultations for your teen and family in order to make a successful transition from high school to post-secondary education. It is important for families and students to learn about the changes and differences in service provisions and legal obligations and compliance in higher education.
Meet The Brokers
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A SUPPORTbroker is someone you hire to find supports you need to help you at home, school, your job, and community. Most people who use support brokers are persons with disabilities and/or families supporting someone who uses support.
SUPPORTbrokers know how to get different kinds of help and support. They can help you find transportation, a place to live, someone to help you with daily living skills, a job counselor, link you with your community, help with social security or health insurance, and many more things.
A SUPPORTbroker will spend time with you to learn about your needs and goals. The Broker will help you write a plan to get the supports you need. First, the broker helps you describe the supports you decide you need. Then, the broker helps you find those supports and put them into place.
Some people hire SUPPORTbrokers to help them with a change in their life situation. For example:
- Help in becoming a good self-advocate
- Assistance in creating a circle of friends and supporters
- Transitioning from school to adult life.
- Help getting and keeping a job.
- Loss of an important support person (your parent, spouse, sibling, partner, friend).
- To conduct a person-centered plan.
Some people hire a SUPPORTbroker to be their advisor and advocate when designing, or redesigning, a support plan based on publicly-funded supports. For example:
- Developing a Transition Plan (from school to work, from children to adult services)
- Developing a Person-centered Plan for Self-directed Supports (when switching from traditional supports)
A Broker can do any of the following:
- Help you gather information on your options.
- Help you describe your goals, the changes you want to make in your life, and the support you need to get there.
- Help you hold a planning session with people who support you — friends, family, neighbors, and support workers. You choose the people to invite.
- Help you write a plan that describes the supports you need to meet your goals.
- Help you develop a budget to pay for your supports and personal expenses.
- Help you find the supports and services you have in your plan.
- Help you put supports in place and come up with a plan to manage your supports
A SUPPORTbroker is any person with the skills to help you choose the best supports and find those supports. A SUPPORTbroker should have the following skills and qualities:
- A SUPPORTbroker should believe in your right to plan and direct your own supports. That’s called self-determination — your right to make choices.
- A SUPPORTbroker is someone who works for you and answers to you.
- A SUPPORTbroker helps you decide what is most important to you. A Broker helps you handle tough decisions.
- A SUPPORTbroker listens to what you want. The Broker helps you describe the unique and creative combination of supports that will work for you.
- A Broker helps you work with your friends, family, and professionals to get the support you need. A Broker helps resolve conflict and supports your point of view.
If you are paying the Broker yourself, the choice is yours.
Most Brokers are professionals. This is their job. They have special training and experience. A Broker will help you make life decisions. Shop around for someone you can work with. A professional Broker is someone who:
- Has experience helping people develop plans and knows the requirements for a “person-centered plan.”
- Knows local and state services. A professional Broker knows what is available to you from your community, school, and state disability agency. A professional Broker knows the service system rules.
- Knows how to develop a personal budget. A professional Broker knows the rules about what you should pay for supports and knows how to fill out the paperwork.
SUPPORTbrokers offers you a list of qualified brokers with a wide range of experience supporting persons of all ages and disabilities. Each Broker affiliated with SUPPORTbrokers receives training and supervision.
Unsure what to do before your son or daughter reaches age 22? Let us help you with your child's journey.
Transition is about planning for life. The transition your son or daughter will make from school to adult life in the community is a long journey beginning at age 14 through 22 years. Transitional services include post secondary education, vocational education, integrated (and supported) employment, continuing adult education, adult services, and independent living or community participation.
If you want one-on-one help from a transition expert, sign up for a problem solving session provided by SUPPORTbrokers of The Arc of Massachusetts. A broker will help you tackle problems and propose solutions by brainstorming ideas and giving you options, guidance, and resources geared toward your child's needs, strengths, preferences, and interests.
One hour, individualized clinics will be provided at The Arc of Massachusetts in Waltham. Cost is $50/hour. Anyone who has a son or daughter with an intellectual disability is welcome to register for a session today by calling or emailing Kerry Mahoney, Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-891-6270 ext. 109. Your appointment will be confirmed once the payment is received in The Arc office.
Person-Centered Planning is a vision-building and future planning tool which discovers the kind of life a person desires, creates a plan for how it may be achieved, and ensures access to needed supports and services. The focus is always on the vision of what the person would like to be and do. The planning focuses on the strengths of the person rather than his/her weaknesses.
The process brings together the people who are committed to helping the person articulate his/her future vision. The people who care most deeply about this individual are called together to form a team to contribute ideas, solutions, connections and action steps to achieve goals. The kinds of people to bring together are parents, siblings, friends, school mates, relatives, community friends from church, clubs, work, educators, business people, human service representatives, etc = anyone who can make a difference in the person’s life.
Planning can happen at any time. It is especially helpful when one is about to make a major life transition such as entering the adult world. It is important to note, that this is not a one-time only meeting but an ongoing process. The values that underlie any person-centered planning are the same values that underlie transition planning processes: supporting people with disabilities in learning, loving and living in their communities.
A facilitator is chosen. This should be someone who is a good listener, is creative, and a community builder. A space to hold the meeting is selected; usually where the person is most comfortable. Invitations should be sent out to prospective participants explaining the purpose of the meeting. Two to three hours, usually of an evening, should be put aside for the session. It’s always a good idea to serve food.
Person-centered planning is a way to identify a student’s individual goals and to help students, families, and professionals craft plans that will support students as they strive to achieve their dreams.
Example: Ted is an 18 year old young man. While participating in a person-centered planning session, one particular focus was on supported employment, Ted mentioned that he would like to work in a restaurant one day. He loves to cook and helps his mom in the kitchen and his dad at the grill. At an IEP meeting following the person-centered planning session, Ted, his mom, dad, and 2 sisters along with other advocates met with his high school staff, a representative from Mass. Rehabilitation Commission and a DMR transition person. They decided that he should gain work experience in kitchens. This then became a goal on his IEP. Ted, along with a job coach, now works 3 afternoons a week in the kitchen of a local nursing home. He also volunteers one day a week in the cafe of a local gym. His family is looking into local cooking schools for additional training.
Here are some commonly used tools to conduct person-centered planning: MAPS, PATH, Essential Lifestyle Plans, Whole Life Planning, and Personal Futures Planning.
Before starting our transition work with The Arc for our son, we had no idea of the enormity of the transition task. We now have a plan. Our son has made so much progress because we know what we need to teach him and where he wants to go. And the most amazing part: we now know that he can get there and flourish as a successful, independent, happy adult.
[Our broker is] invaluable to us. She continues to advise us and we couldn't do it without her. She takes so much of the stress away when she explains things to us and guides us through the processes that we need to go through. I honestly can say that my sister would not have as happy and fulfilling a life it if weren't for the help we have received from our Support Brokers.
We were so fortunate to have such an excellent broker guiding us through the process and helping us formulate an ask. As a result, we were able to obtain more services which will benefit our family greatly.
I am so happy that we decided to get an advocate and we decided to use SUPPORTbrokers. She is invested in our son and family and in our future and she has taught us to advocate as well. We feel empowered.