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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 16R: Geographically-based interagency review team for disabled children who qualify for services from multiple agencies

Section 16R. There shall be geographically-based interagency review teams to collaborate on complex cases when a child, which shall include a person under the age of 22 who is disabled or has special needs, may qualify for services from multiple state agencies consisting, as determined by the needs of the individual child, of representatives selected from agencies within the executive office of health and human services, the department of early education and care, and the department of elementary and secondary education. If appropriate and if proper consent has been provided, representatives of local education agencies and juvenile probation shall be invited to participate. Such a child may be referred to the team by a state agency, the juvenile court or the child's parent or guardian. The teams, after hearing from the parents or guardian of the child, relevant agencies and service providers, and reviewing relevant materials, shall determine which services, including case management services, are appropriate for the child and who shall provide those services. If the team is unable to reach a consensus decision, the matter shall be referred to the regional directors of the respective agencies for resolution. The regional directors shall meet within 10 business days of the referral and shall issue their decision within 3 business days thereafter. If the regional directors are unable to resolve the case and the disagreement involves matters solely within the purview of the executive office of health and human services, the team shall notify the secretary of health and human services who shall render a decision within 30 days of the notice.

If, after 14 days from the date that the team determines which services a child is eligible for, the team is unable to reach a consensus on the responsibility of payment, and the child is unable to access those services because of disagreement about responsibility for payment among state agencies and local education agencies, the child advocate shall be notified and shall have the authority to impose a binding temporary cost share agreement on those state agencies and local education agencies. The cost share agreement shall remain in effect until the child advocate is informed in writing of a permanent cost share or payment agreement having been implemented or until the child no longer qualifies for the services.

If the parent or guardian of the child disputes the decision of the team or the secretary, the parent or guardian may file an appeal with the division of administrative law appeals, established under section 4H of chapter 7, which shall conduct an adjudicatory proceeding and order any necessary relief consistent with state or federal law.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to entitle a child to services to which the child would be otherwise ineligible under applicable agency statutes or regulations.

Notwithstanding chapters 66A, 112 and 119 or any other law related to the confidentiality of personal data, the teams, the secretary and the division of administrative law appeals shall have access to and may discuss materials related to the case while the case is under review once the parent or guardian has consented in writing and those having access agree in writing to keep the materials confidential. Once the review is complete, all materials shall be returned to the originating source.

The secretary of health and human services, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education and the commissioner of early education and care shall jointly promulgate regulations to effectuate the purposes of this section.

The secretary of health and human services shall publish an annual report by February 15 summarizing the cases reviewed by the teams in the previous year, the length of time spent at each stage and their final resolution. The report shall be provided to the child advocate.

Nothing in this section shall limit the rights of parents or children under chapter 71B, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794 et seq.