December 21, 2017
Happy Holidays from The Arc of Massachusetts

Best wishes from all of us at The Arc of Massachusetts for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Leo V. Sarkissian
Executive Director  
Tax Cut Places Services in Peril
Yesterday, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a massive tax bill that will have a long-lasting impact on our debt, health care, and long-term services and supports for people with disabilities.  You can see The Arc's statements on House and Senate passage here and here .

The bill also will lead to millions more Americans without health insurances and guts the federal revenue base to such an extent that we know the next step will be attempts at massive cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, SSI/DI, SNAP, and TANF in addition to discretionary programs. 

We will continue to face other threats such as attacks on civil rights laws and regulations and guidance related to education, employment, community living, and more. Please note that the final tax bill restores some important tax provisions for people with disabilities (the medical expense deduction, work opportunity tax credit, disabled access tax credit, and the low-income housing tax credit). But these positives pale in the face of the reduction in long term disability services that will surely take place given the loss of revenue.
Dental Care Shouldn't Be A Burden For Children Like Michael
Like many children, Michael, who has autism, hates going to the dentist. He fights, cries, and bites to avoid having his teeth examined or cleaned. His family struggled to find a dentist who would serve him, but most turned him away after one visit citing his behavior. Lack of care over several years led to an emergency room visit and the extraction of three diseased teeth. 

Access to dental care is key to overall health. But all too often, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities do not receive the care that they need. The Arc of Massachusetts has been vigorously advocating for a bill that will improve access to dental care by authorizing a new type of dental professional, the Dental Hygiene Practitioner, to serve our most vulnerable populations. It would create a new category of dental therapists who would be quasi-independent, but under a dentist's general supervision.

In addition, the bill requires their training to include working with people with I/DD and autism like Michael. This will help avoid the completely unnecessary pain, suffering, and cost of visits to the emergency room and the loss of teeth. 

The Arc of Massachusetts can't do this important work without you. Only with your commitment and generosity will people with intellectual and developmental disabilities get the services and supports that they need and deserve. 

You make all the difference!

The Arc of Massachusetts 2017 Highlights, Part One
As we approach the end of 2017, join us as we take a look back at some of the highlights of the past year.
Here, Judy Zacek and Leo discuss the importance of our Home for the Future, our new building, and how we have each and every one of you to thank.
In the second installment, Leo discusses our Widening the Circle program and the Pathways to Friendship project with Jim Ross. They talk about why social inclusion is a vital part of what we do.

Coming Friday, 12/22/17 
at 3:00 PM on our Facebook!
Leo's MassHealth Webinar Now Online!

Did you miss Leo's MassHealth Updates webinar on December 7th? Don't worry - you can now take advantage of this important informational session at any time via our YouTube channel!

MassHealth Innovations:
What You NEED To Know About The Changes
Transition to Adult Services Webinar
What Educators and School Administrators Need to Know
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 | 2:30 - 4:00 PM
Presented by Pat Pakos and Kerry Mahoney, The Arc of Massachusetts
Registration fee: $40

The transition of students leaving their schools can be difficult for themselves and their families. Educators and School Administrators can be helpful in making this transition seamless.  Participants will learn:  What are the basics to know about this transition?  What are the available services?  How are they organized?  What can Educators and School Administrators do to help? Register today!
WHAT'S TRENDING Whatstrending
Testimony before Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee
_L to R_ Chief Bongiorno Bedford PD_ The Arc_s Maura Sullivan and William Cannata
(L to R) Chief Bongiorno Bedford PD, The Arc's Maura Sullivan and William Cannata
The Arc, represented by Bedford Police Chief Bongiorno, Maura Sullivan and Bill Cannata, presented testimony in support of S.1313 (an act relative to criminal justice training regarding persons with autism) this week before the legislature's Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

The bill filed by Senator Anne Gobi (Spencer) will mandate training for all police academies in MA as well as training for correctional officers. The training will include parent professionals and self-advocates and follows a model based on The Arc of South Norfolk's ALEC (Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition) program.

Maura Sullivan testified: "We see police trying to help in crisis or emergency situations all over the country where training has supported the worst ways to approach/interact and help people with autism." 

Chief Bongiorno offered a unique insight: " On a personal note, I am the father of an autistic teenage daughter and I've experienced the challenges associated with this disorder. I believe a foundational knowledge on how to identify individuals across the spectrum, and how to respond to their varying needs, would be beneficial to all members in the law enforcement field."

We are encouraged that this legislation can be favorably reported out of the committee. We also offer special recognition to Scott Lentine, our intern, who helped research articles in preparation for this legislation.
One on One MassHealth Support Meetings
Get help with your MassHealth coverage from start to finish! Talk 1:1 with a MassHealth staff member about coverage, eligibility, enrollment, new health care options, changing your primary care provider, or any other questions you may have.  We are here to help you enroll. We can help you learn about MassHealth's new health plan options, answer your questions, and help you enroll. 

Find a meeting near you.

Tuesday, January 9
(Snow date January 11)
1 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
777 Elsbree St.
Fall River, MA 02720
Friday, January 19
(Snow date January 25)
1 p.m. - 9 p.m.
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116
Tuesday, January 23
(Snow date January 30)
12 p.m. - 7 p.m.
51 Lawrence St.
Lawrence, MA 01841
Saturday, February 3
(Snow date February 7)
10 a.m. - 7 p.m. 
50 Foster St.
Worcester, MA 01608
Monday, March 5
(Snow date March 19)
1 p.m. - 9 p.m.
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116
Tuesday, March 20
2 p.m. - 9 p.m
1599 Memorial Dr.
Chicopee, MA 01020

Tuesday, March 27
2 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
1 West St.
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Talk to a Certified Application Counselor or Navigator. 
To make an appointment, visit the webpage
and click the "Find an Enrollment Assister" button.
Sensory Friendly Performance of Charlotte's Web at A.R.T
Charlotte's Web  Sensory-Friendly Performance
Friday, December 29, 2017 | 2:00 PM
Loeb Drama Center (64 Brattle Street, Harvard Square)
Use discount code "HUMBLE15" at checkout for $15 tickets 

Adapted from E.B. White's children's classic and directed by A.R.T. Institute alumnus Dmitry Troyanovsky ('00) ,   Charlotte's Web will feature graduate students from the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training Class of 2018.
This sensory-friendly performance is specially designed for children with sensory sensitivities (including sensory processing disorders and autism spectrum disorder) and their families and caretakers. Alterations were made to the environment of the theater, both inside and out, to create a judgment-free, fun experience. Adjustments to the performance include freedom for audience members to move about the space and react vocally, lowering sound and music volume, keeping lighting levels consistent for full visibility, and on-site quiet areas with the support of a licensed clinician. Read the FAQ for more information.   
Massachusetts Family Expectations Survey
The Massachusetts Partnership for Transition to Employment ( MPTE ) is working to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults in our state, and one essential part of this work is better supporting families. Your input on this survey will tell us how we can better support families. There are no right or wrong answers; we just want to hear your perspective.
Your participation in the research is voluntary. All of the information collected in the survey will be anonymous. The survey will take about 10-15 minutes.  Please click here to complete this survey.
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