Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
Annual Family Support Plan
State Fiscal Year 2004


The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) is organized
pursuant to M.G.L. c. 6 S&74-84 and operates programs authorized
by State law, the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and
the Social Security Act. The MRC provides comprehensive services to
individuals with significant disabilities, intended to promote equality,
empowerment, and productive independence.

The MRC serves no discrete constituency. While each of
the MRC’s programs has its own focus and eligibility, the commission’s
mandate and purpose are, through its various programs and services,
to assist all eligible individuals with disabilities, regardless of
age, the nature of the disability or functional ability, to maximize
quality of life and economic self-sufficiency in the community. Consistent
among all services across programs is a consumer focused and consumer
directed planning and service delivery process that respects and is
driven by the informed decisions of empowered consumers. In most instances,
consumers are competent, independent adults who choose to control their
involvement with the MRC personally. However, in a number of the MRC’s
programs, parents and families play important roles in supporting the
consumer and through participation in the planning process.

The Families Support Act requires the MRC and other human
service agencies to submit 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, an assessment
of the current service delivery system for individuals and family supports
for persons with disabilities or chronic illnesses and their families.
The MRC, through its programs of vocational rehabilitation services,
employment services, community services that include: independent living
center services, assistive technology services, home modification loan
program, turning-22 services, supported living services, traumatic brain
injury services, protective services and abuse investigation, home care
services, consumer involvement, and its disability determination services,
has been and continues to be committed to working with individuals with
disabilities and their families to meet their community-based needs.

In fiscal year 2004, the MRC is focusing its family support
efforts primarily on the programs of the Statewide Head Injury Program
(SHIP), which has actively engaged consumers and their families in many
aspects of its operations since its establishment. The MRC will continue
its efforts to involve families whenever appropriate in all its other
programs and service and will expand its surveying of families’ opinions
regarding services and service delivery throughout the year.

At the MRC, Family Supports are any of the panoply of
services available through its various programs that support individuals
and their choices: to involve family members in planning, to remain
with their families or to live in their own homes with familial support,
to enhance the ability of family members to support the choices made
by consumers. The MRC recognizes that an informed, engaged and supported
family can be the most important factor in an individual’s efforts to
achieve greater autonomy and independence.

Family Support Initiatives

I. Family Empowerment

Families hold over 40% of the seats on the Massachusetts
Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Board, which recommends policy, practices
and funding for SHIP and other human service agencies addressing the
needs of people with brain injury.

Families sit on review committees for RFR responses under
SHIP program development.

Families are on the Advisory Board Steering Committees
for federal grants that we have written, received and implemented as
a monitoring and advisory committee. Representatives also sit on the
Olmstead Advisory Group, Real Choice Systems Change Grant Consumer Advisory
Board, and the MRC Rehabilitation Council.

Families are integral to our service delivery model since
over 75% of the TBI population, even though they are over the age of
22, lives at home with their families. We continue to involve families
as we balance their roles with that of the individual.

II. Family Leadership

SHIP offers training to families and, over the years,
has addressed topics of interest and concern to them such as subsidized
housing, pharmacology with brain injury, substance abuse, and how to
be a better case manager.

SHIP provides support for the Mass Brain Injury Association’s
I&R, support group network and prevention programs.

SHIP has funded family members to participate at national
conferences and meetings where they meet other family members and can
advance their advocacy skill level.

III. Family Support Resources

SHIP has a Family Assistance Program (FAR) that has been
operating for almost ten years. We fund clinical assessment and support
services for families who have someone at home with a TBI and other
co-morbid problems such as behaviors.

SHIP requires state-funded Head Injury Centers around
the state to offer educational opportunities and services to families.

SHIP pays for respite, whether in-home or out-of-home,
when requested. This can either be driven by an emergency or planned
in advance for a break.

SHIP funds home modifications that allow families to keep
loved ones at home if they choose.

SHIP funds “companions” that allow survivors living with
families to get out of the house for periods of time thereby giving
families a break during the week on a regular basis.

SHIP pays for short-term private case management to assist
families who often carry this burden.

IV. Accessing Services

SHIP provides funding to the Mass. Brain Injury Association
with the expectation that they educate families about accessing the
human service system and refer people to SHIP for more detailed information.

A portion of this funding is to manage their I&R program
serving the entire state with an 800 telephone number.

SHIP sends out an MBIA brochure to new applicants encouraging
their involvement in this organization.

V. Culturally Competent Outreach

SHIP has been involved in multicultural issues and outreach
since the early 90’s. SHIP has been part of an Advisory Board at the
Institute for Community Inclusion that works to expand the capacity
of minority organizations to serve people with disabilities and their

SHIP provides written materials in other languages and
interpreters when necessary/requested. SHIP also provides funding to
MBIA to translate and print their brochures in several languages.

SHIP actively seeks out professionals who are bi-lingual
and bi-cultural.

SHIP staff recruitment has targeted diverse communities
to expand this department’s capacity to address the needs of a broad
range of individuals on a day-to-day basis.

SHIP has two federal grants focusing on multicultural
outreach – one has a goal of the development of “support groups” within
minority communities that are culturally competent for those who choose
to participate. At this time there are support groups that includes
families within the Chinese, Vietnamese and Latino communities. The
other grant has used therapeutic recreation as a way to serve families
and survivors with a focus on skill development and enhanced independence.

SHIP is actively working with the Hispanic, Khmer, and
Haitian communities as well. We will be expanding our outreach to the
African American and Native American communities this year.

VI. Interagency Collaboration

SHIP co-chaired, with EOHHS, an interagency/intersecretariat
steering committee for the last several years specific to better serving
people with acquired brain injuries in our present system. The group
has been put on hold due to the reorganization of Health and Human Services.

SHIP sits on the Employment Services Action Council, the
Interagency Leadership Team at EOHHS specific to Olmstead and the Real
Choice Grant and a number of project teams associated with demonstration
projects; the Nursing Home Initiative Steering Committee run by DMR;
Special Populations at EOHHS; and the Medical Review Team at DPH. SHIP
is also represented on several Project Management Teams at EOHHS – Complex
Case Management, Grants Coordination, Substance Abuse, Aligning Facility
Operations, Closing Fernald, Consolidation of Campuses, and Transition.

SHIP sits on the Governor’s Task Force on the Homeless.

SHIP is working with DPH Injury Surveillance to design
a Registry system for Brain Injury in this state.

SHIP has a project with DYS to identify, assess and intervene
early on with kids who have TBI in an effort to reduce future involvement
in the correctional system.

SHIP has sat on teams under OSD regarding special education
rates for children in residential schools and other procurements.

Other MRC Family Support Initiatives
Vocational Rehabilitation Program

In partnership with the Rehabilitation Council’s State
Plan Sub-Committee, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Vocational
Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services Programs annually holds
two formal public hearings in April or May to provide individuals with
disabilities, their families, other representatives, and other interested
parties an opportunity to comment on current Commission policies and
to offer suggestions on future ones. In FY ’04 the MRC will seek specific
input from families regarding their needs in order to better support
the efforts of consumers to enhance independence and economic self-sufficiency.

Each year the MRC Rehabilitation Council conducts a survey
of consumer satisfaction survey. The MRC will work with the Council
to incorporate survey questions that address issues of family involvement
and family support as part of the rehabilitation process.

Community Services Family Support Initiatives

The Community Services Division currently delivers to
persons with disabilities or their families Independent Living Services,
Home Care Assistance Services, Statewide Employment Services, Consumer
Involvement, Traumatic Brain Injury Services, and Protective Services.
Independent Living Services include the following:

1) Core services of advocacy, peer counseling, information
and referral, and skills training;

2) Turning 22 Services of supported living, early
intervention in the school system, and plan development;

3) Assistive Technology;

4) Rehabilitation Technology;

5) Supported Living for adults with disabilities;

6) Community reintegration via the Roland Court decision;

7) Home Modification Loan Program


The Community Services Division solicits comment from
persons with disabilities and or their families regarding service delivery
in a number of different forums.

Home Care Services holds bimonthly meetings of its advisory
council meeting. These meetings review and advise the Agency on regulations
and policy regarding the delivery of services. In 2004, the Homecare
Services department will include family services as a regular agenda
item of its advisory council meetings.

Independent Living Centers and Services solicit input
from the Statewide Independent Living Council, which meets quarterly.
The topic of family services will be raised by the MRC as an important
topic for review and discussion for at least one of the SILC meetings
in 2004.

Supported Living Services has a Supported Living Coalition
that meets with the Agency on a regular basis to advise on policy and
other services delivery issues. As has been its custom, the issue of
family supports will continue to be an important topic at these meetings.

Home Modification Loan Program seeks input and advice
from an advisory board made up of individuals with disabilities, community
housing advocates, representatives ofEOHHS agencies and families. Families
have been primary beneficiaries of this important new program and their
continued input into its review and development will continue in 2004.

The Supported Employment Services program has an advisory
committee that regularly advises the MRC on policy and service delivery
issues. The Statewide Employment Services department intends to develop
a survey for families and consumers that will enable the department
to better understand how it can enhance family supports for the people
it currently serves.

The MRC also looks forward to participating with its sister
agencies in the Disability and Community Services Cluster in collaborative
hearings planned for later this year that will provide a forum for individuals
with disabilities and their families to question and inform all the
state providers of family support services regarding their family support
needs and those of their family members.