SUPPORTbrokers

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

ADVOCACY

Assist with obtaining government services, review concerns about current care quality, and offer information, referral & inclusion.

BROKERING

Create individual plan based on existing situation, evaluate and select service providers, and implement service plan goals.

PLANNING

Develop a future vision for change in one or more areas of life, create action plan with goals, and develop support network.

REFERRAL

Assist with managing personal budgeting and household finances; coordinate community support services for personal care, medical, clinical and leisure needs; and refer to legal guardian, representative payee, trustee or conservator.

Success Stories

Korey's Story

Sarah's Story

Rob & Joe's Story

Samantha's Story

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.

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Meet the Brokers

Kerry Mahoney

Director

Working with local Arcs for over 30 years, Kerry Mahoney has developed and managed a variety of supports, services and resources for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. She is currently the Director of SUPPORTbrokers/PALS. A graduate of Emmanuel College, she received her degree in Psychology/Rehabilitation Counseling.

Since college Kerry has directed residential programs for adults with intellectual disabilities, worked in a special needs classroom, has overseen family support resource centers and expanded Personal Care Assistance, Adult Family Care programs and developed individualized transition plans for students leaving public schools and entering adult services. From these experiences, Kerry has developed a broad knowledge base of the state, federal and private resources that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Kerry became a support broker in December 2008 and has received training in person-centered planning and approaches from The Institute for Community Inclusion, Michael Smull, University of Maryland and University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability.

Rosalie Edes

As a parent of an adult son who has Down Syndrome, Rosalie Edes has been a well-known advocate for high quality community-based person-centered services for more than 30 years. She was instrumental in developing the EI Family Rights Program, the EI Parent Leadership program, the Family TIES parent-to-parent network and oversaw the statewide care coordination system for children with special health care needs.

She also served as both Deputy and Assistant Secretary for Disability Policies and Programs at the Executive Office of Health & Human Services, where she oversaw the work of the four disability agencies (DDS, MRC, MCB & MCDHH), was a key player in the development of Home & Community Based Waiver Services, and coordinated the statewide Autism and Brain Injury Commissions.

Rosalie was Executive Director of two provider agencies: Minute Man Arc for Human Services in Concord for eight years and Cape Abilities in Hyannis for four years. Most recently, she worked as the Long Term Services and Supports Program Manager for Commonwealth Care Alliance’s One Care and Senior Care Options Programs.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, Columbia University, a M.S. in Counseling from Fitchburg State University and a C.A.G.S. in School Psychology from Anna Maria College.

Rosalie is thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with individuals and families to help them develop meaningful services and supports.

Ellen Heald

Ellen Heald is currently a principal at the Northshore Education Consortium Transitions Programs of SOAR and Embark which are located on the campus of Salem State University. The SOAR and Embark programs assist to implement transition services to special education students ages 18-22 with transition services.

Ellen oversees all of the programmatic operations. She facilitates employment opportunities, access to college classes, social skill development, academic skills, independent living skills and collaboration with adult service agencies to facilitate ongoing supports for individuals with a wide range of needs.

Ellen is a school administrator and has her Masters Degree in special education. She has been employed by the Northshore Education Consortium for the past 25 years in a variety of roles. Ellen has experience with individuals from pre-school through 22 years of age.

In addition to her role at the Northshore Education Consortium, Ellen has been a respite provider and a foster parent for over 30 children and teens with various needs. She has knowledge of supports needed and resources to obtain such supports both through the eyes of a professional and a parent. Ellen is looking forward to working with families to facilitate services available in and around their community to promote independence across settings.

Dianne Huggon

Dianne joined The Arc of Massachusetts in 2015 as a Family Outreach Coordinator for the Massachusetts Alliance for 21st Century Disability Policy (MA21) grant project.

Dianne’s strong conviction is that supports and services for individuals with disabilities must open doors of opportunity for them to build a meaningful life in their own community and be surrounded by people they love and are loved by. Her personal mission is to bring hope to other families using her real life experiences as a parent of a child with multiple disabilities.

Dianne’s passion is to help families recognize their loved one’s natural gifts and talents to create a vision for their future, which can be a powerful tool in their advocacy. The vision she and her husband created twenty years ago for their oldest son who has cerebral palsy was a seed planted. Today her son has his own vision.

Dianne was the Statewide Coordinator for Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC) for thirteen (13) years and continues to assist the MFOFC Southeast Family Leadership Network with their Family Leadership Series (FLS). A graduate of the 1995-96 FLS, she credits this amazing training for helping her to “imagine better” in her advocacy for person centered supports and services that enabled her son’s vision become reality.

Dianne Huggon resides in Taunton, MA, with her husband and their three talented and beautiful young adult children.

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly has been working in the human services field for over 30 years. Her mission is to ensure that everyone has access to successful outcomes in life

She has developed and managed a variety of successful programs for chapters of The Arc and is currently working as Benefits Counselor with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. She serves on the Arc’s Government Affairs Committee and the Governor’s Autism Commission Sub-Committee for Transition.

Kathy is an expert in transition and has provided guidance and support for students, families, and school systems. She particularly enjoys working with students and families as they prepare to make their transition to adulthood by helping them develop a realistic future vision and goals that are person-centered and focused on their individual strengths and needs. She understands the state, non-profit and private systems and knows how to navigate them to maximize planning. A graduate of Suffolk University, she received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Barbara Pandolfi

Barbara brings a breadth of experience in the field of disability garnered from working in day and residential programs, as well as over 20 years spent with the Department of Developmental Services.

Barbara believes strongly in the empowerment of people with developmental disabilities and spends much of her time enhancing their voices as stakeholders in the larger system. Barbara also especially enjoys working with families at times of transition or future planning.

Barbara is well versed in resources and possibilities for genuine community participation. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Simmons College and a Master’s in Education from Boston University.

Christine Shane, Ph.D.

Christine has served as an advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families for many years. She is currently Chairperson of the Behavioral Sciences Department at Fitchburg State University and serves as Chair of the State Advisory Council, for the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services.

Dr. Shane specializes in the evaluation and implementation of programs for children and adults with disabilities and currently provides consultation and training to schools and non-profit agencies.

She earned her doctoral degree from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. During her graduate studies, she worked closely with Dr. Gunnar Dybwad and Dr. Wolf Wolfensburger.

Eileen Berger

Eileen Berger has worked as a disability and student services administrator in higher education for 28 years and as a speech, language and hearing specialist in K-12 education. Eileen consults with families, students, school districts and institutions of higher education. She has directed disability services in Bunker Hill Community College, Salem State University and for 18 years at Harvard University GSE as administrator in Student Affairs and Access and Disability Services.

She has extensive experience in private and public education as a licensed educator, speech, language and hearing specialist, administrator and supervisor developing local and regional programs, curriculum and training for students with multiple disabilities, communication disorders, mental health issues that includes support for their families and connections to resources.

Eileen’s experience in disability service provision in a variety of college environments, including 4 year, public, private, and professional institutions of higher education as well as 2-year community colleges, technical schools and K-12 programs. She has certification in assistive technology and can help you asses your student’s need for technology solutions and strategies

Paula Thompson

Paula has worked with people with disabilities across the life span, with a focus on those transitioning out of school. Through supporting families and developing home, based afterschool and day service programs Paula has built a wealth of experience.

Autism, behavioral and communication challenges are her areas of specialty. Paula works collaboratively with families and individuals to make the grey aspect of life more concrete. Paula believes that every person has a lot of potential. She enjoys problem solving with families and individuals about strategies that help build success, knowing that success looks different for each person.

Jinny Savolainen

Jinny has 35 years of experience working with families and individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. Having raised a child with both medical and developmental challenges led to an interest and a passion for helping others.

Jinny has advocated for individuals in multiple settings. She has assisted families in obtaining home modifications, filling out forms, exploring housing opportunities, applying for grants, and finding job opportunities. She enjoys problem solving within specific and unique situations.

Jinny believes deeply that strong communication skills are the key to building relationships.  She excels in fostering both personal and professional connections. It is her core belief that these connections create an environment that is most conducive to success. The ultimate goal is to create the best life possible for each individual and family.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a SUPPORTbroker?

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.

When would I want to hire a SUPPORTbroker?

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)

What can a SUPPORTbroker do for me?

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

Who can be a SUPPORTbroker?

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.

May I choose my own SUPPORTbroker?

If you are paying the Broker yourself, the choice is yours.

How do I choose?

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.

Who does SUPPORTbrokers offer?

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.

What do I need to know about transition and turning 22?

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 info@supportbrokers.org or 781-891-6270 ext. 109. Your appointment will be confirmed once the payment is received in The Arc office.

What is Person Centered Planning (PCP)?

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.

Testimonials