A team of NuPath ambassadors traveled to the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday for the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers’ (ADDP) Legislative Luncheon. Led by President/CEO Dan Harrison, ten members of the Organization were on hand to learn about the issues and challenges facing the disability community in 2019.
Harrison, a member on ADDP’s Board of Directors, said, “The luncheon is a great opportunity to meet with our legislators and advocate on behalf of the men and women we support. We’re proud to be here, as we have been for almost 20 years.”
Among the items on this year’s agenda is the ongoing battle to pass Nicky’s Law in the House of Representatives. Named after Nicky Chan, a developmentally disabled man who suffered repeated abuse at the hands of a caretaker, the Bill would establish a registry of caretakers alleged to have committed substantiated acts of abuse towards people with disabilities. It was passed in the Massachusetts State Senate this past July and is currently awaiting delegation in the House.
State Representative Kay Khan, who chairs the Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, stated that passing Nicky’s Law is a “high priority for 2019” and encouraged ADDP’s member organizations to “take up the fight and advocate for passing the Bill, which would enhance the quality of care for people living with disabilities.”
A key figure in advocating for Nicky’s Law in the House is State Rep. Richard Haggerty, a long-time supporter of NuPath and Woburn resident. The former President of Woburn’s City Council was recently elected to the House in November, replacing retired Rep. James Dwyer. Haggerty is a sponsor of Nicky’s Law and says it will help increase the quality of care for the disability community.
“Men and women living with disabilities should be treated with dignity and respect by all people,” he said. “Passing Nicky’s Law is a priority for me in 2019 because it puts a sense of trust and understanding in the hands of those being supported, as they will have more confidence and better controls over the people that care for them.”
Katie Schlosberg, one of NuPath’s residential Program Managers, expressed her support for the Bill. “Nicky’s Law is a vital step in protecting people with disabilities and their families,” she said. “We want to ensure men and women with disabilities live in a safe, caring, and secure environment.”
A second major topic of conversation is the ongoing “Employment First” initiative, launched in 2014. ADDP is asking Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to allocate approximately $250 million for Day and Employment Services to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) – a 15% increase from Fiscal Year 2019.
“I hope the state will support our vision to create more opportunities for meaningful community services and integrated employment,” stated DDS Commissioner Jane Ryder. “The funding will help all people with disabilities learn the necessary skills to encourage independent living.”
Rep. Paul Brodeur, honored by ADDP as one of their Legislators of the Year, has been a longtime supporter of increased employment funding for adults with developmental disabilities. He believes it will have to be a team effort to get the support they will need from the Governor.
“My colleagues and I…want to help everyone (in the Great Hall of Flags) find opportunities to fully integrate in the community,” he stated. “The only way we can do this is by advocating for each other.”
NuPath’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Brett Reily, started in the Organization as the Director of Employment and Community Engagement. He believes proper funding for employment initiatives will bring NuPath closer to fulfilling their mission of making life’s journey happier, healthier, and more fulfilling for people living with disabilities.
“Our dedicated employment team wants to help the hard-working men and women we support find jobs in the community and increase their independence,” he said. “NuPath urges the Governor and other state legislators to advocate for the funding we need to maintain and expand these programs so people with disabilities can further integrate themselves in the community.”