Skip to Content
The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 16F: Support to individuals with disabilities and their families

Section 16F. As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:—

(a) ''Community services'', services that are available to the general population.

''Department'', the Massachusetts commission for the blind, the Massachusetts commission for the deaf and hard of hearing, the department of mental health, the department of developmental services, the department of public health, the division of medical assistance and the Massachusetts rehabilitation commission.

''Family'', a person with a disability or chronic illness and the parents, relatives or guardians who have assumed responsibility for caring for that person indefinitely, excluding professional service providers who are unrelated to the person.

''Flexible supports'', support services, subject to appropriation and consistent with each department's authority and mandate for serving people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, may include, but not be limited to:

(1) coordination and facilitation of support services;

(2) counseling and information;

(3) facilitation of self-help groups;

(4) home adaptations;

(5) assistive technology devices and services and support services to facilitate full communication and language access;

(6) financial assistance;

(7) assistance in caregiving including: respite, day care, after school care and personal care or personal care surrogacy, when necessary;

(8) adaptive equipment and clothing;

(9) medical services;

(10) transportation, including vehicle modification;

(11) recreation and leisure activities;

(12) life planning;

(13) special dietary supplements and medical equipment and maintenance;

(14) mental health treatment; and

(15) advocacy training.

''Substantial consultation'', may include, but shall not be limited to, the following activities: meetings and discussions with persons with disabilities and chronic illnesses and their families to determine their needs and concerns; public hearings to review draft individual and family support plans developed in response to this section to be held with adequate public notice on a regional basis throughout the commonwealth not less than 90 days prior to the scheduled date of plan submission; issuance of a draft plan sufficiently in advance of a hearing to permit the submission of written comments; public availability of written comments within each region not less than 60 days in advance of the plan submission date.

(b) Each department, after substantial consultation with individuals with disabilities and their families, the departments' statewide or regional advisory councils subject to appropriation, shall annually prepare an individual and family support plan that shall explain how the department intends to provide flexible supports to families and individuals. The plans shall be submitted to the governor, the secretary of health and human services, the joint committee on human services and elderly affairs and the house and senate committees on ways and means. Each department shall set forth its own plan, subject to appropriation, for coordinating, enhancing and expanding individual and family supports during the fiscal year. Each department shall seek creative and innovative ways, within its existing authority and mandate for serving individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses, to provide flexible supports. The plan shall include, but not be limited to, the following goals:

(1) to develop interagency collaboration and public and private partnerships in order to: increase access to services; coordinate resources and referrals; pool funds to better support those with multiple disabilities; and provide technical assistance, training and outreach to consumers, specialized providers and community service providers about the philosophy and goals of individual and family support plans and progress toward those goals;

(2) to create opportunities for individuals with disabilities and their families for oversight of, and input into, the direction and development of policies and programs involving support services funded by the departments' local, regional and central offices and their vendor agencies;

(3) to specify long and short-term objectives and strategies for implementing accessible and flexible supports for individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses and their families and to review progress toward long and short-term objectives specified in the previous plan. Long-term strategies should span multiple years and the range of years shall parallel the department's usual short and long-term planning patterns;

(4) to identify family support resources that shall be used to achieve goals and objectives specified in the plan and to analyze the current flexibility of departmental funding mechanisms in order to identify any adjustments needed to more adequately provide family supports for those families prioritized for funding within the guidelines of each department mandate;

(5) to enable the full participation of individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses and their families in community life in a way that maintains respect and sensitivity to choices made by all cultures;

(6) to expand the capacity of community services to include persons with disabilities or chronic illnesses by training and educating community service providers; and

(7) to empower consumers and ensure their active leadership and advocacy through opportunities for education, leadership development and training.