On March 11, we welcomed 40 attendees to our monthly meeting. Our guest speakers were Doug McCallum (DDS Director of Family Support, Central/West Region), Doreen Boyer and Stephanie Baldwin (DDS Transition staff, Franklin -Hampshire Area Office), and Arlene Lockenwitz (Family Bridges Program). Our discussion started with the acknowledgement that, in the past, children with medical fragility did not survive until adulthood. Now many do survive, and we are developing systems to assist families. Unfortunately, the process is not always smooth.
Family Bridges supports families coping with complex medical needs, enabling home care for children. Family Bridges provides a LOT of handholding during the guardianship process. Arlene told us that the “attorney of the day” in Massachusetts Probate Courts will provide assistance to anyone who needs help filing guardianship paperwork. She knows this happens in Franklin County.
When your families seek DDS services, help them understand that DDS prioritizes needs for children transitioning to adult care. Health and safety comes first when deciding funding for day or residential options.
Doreen and Stephanie, from the Transition staff, told us to discourage families from allowing their children to graduate before age 22. A child might have enough credits and adequate MCAS scores, but graduating from high school leads to loss of services. Be aware that filing Form 688 starts the process towards graduation. At age 22, DDS service is no longer an entitlement.
In preparation for Transition, DDS Family Support Services helps families through the social security process. DDS helps families “rebuild their team” with applications for services such as PCAs, adult family care, school habilitation and sheltered employment. Find family support resources here.
Massachusetts DPH is distributing a confidential survey. Families will have the opportunity to enter a raffle for $50 gift cards. Encourage your families to participate!
Check out the PVTA to learn more about special needs transit in Western MA.
Changes are coming for intellectual disability eligibility. Check here for current guidelines.
FCSN.org is offering comprehensive training for parent consultants. They are hosting a springtime training in Belchertown.
Centrus is expanding their territory to serve more special needs families in Western MA.
Our next meeting will be on Wed, April 11 from 9:15-10:30 am.
Here’s a shout-out to The Arc. A beautiful story about an artist: