Home > Uncategorized > Committee won’t allow DDS clients and families to speak at oversight hearing on DDS care

Committee won’t allow DDS clients and families to speak at oversight hearing on DDS care

On Wednesday (January 17), the Legislature’s Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities Committee will hold what may be the first oversight hearing in its history to examine problems with care of persons with developmental disabilities in Massachusetts.

The bad news is that those individuals and their families and guardians will not be allowed to speak during the hearing.

A news release issued by the committee states that “verbal testimony” will be taken only from representatives of DDS and the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC). (The DPPC is an independent but seriously understaffed agency that is charged with investigating allegations of abuse and neglect in the DDS system, but which refers the vast majority of those cases to DDS itself for investigation.)

I confirmed the details of the news release today with the committee and asked a staff member to convey our disappointment in it to Representative Kay Khan and Senator Joan Lovely, the committee co-chairs.

The news release notes that DDS clients, family members, guardians, and members of the public are “invited” to attend the hearing and listen to the testimony, and are even “encouraged” to submit written testimony to the committee.  But the committee isn’t interested in hearing about their experiences directly.

This explains why the committee has devoted only half a day to this critically important issue of abuse and neglect in the DDS system. The hearing is scheduled to begin on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Room A2 of the State house.  It shouldn’t take long if the committee intends only to ask questions of selected officials from DDS and the DPPC.

What we are hoping is that people will submit written testimony and request in their testimony that the committee hold another hearing so that they can testify in person. That written testimony can be submitted via email to Kay.Khan@mahouse.gov, or mailed to: Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities c/o Representative Kay Khan, State House, Room 146, 24 Beacon Street, Boston MA, 02133.

The committee scheduled the hearing in the wake of a case last year in which a young man nearly died in a DDS-funded group home after aspirating on a piece of cake.

We have been calling for years for a comprehensive legislative review of the system of care for persons with developmental disabilities in Massachusetts. The last such review was done in the late 1990’s by the Post Audit and Oversight Committee, which found problems of abuse, neglect, and financial irregularities throughout the system.

The Post Audit report stated that DDS’s oversight of privatized care, in particular, raised “grave doubts about (DDS’s) commitment to basic health and safety issues and ensuring that community placements provide equal or better care for (DDS) clients.”

Some 20 years later, as we have previously noted, it does not appear that much has changed. The association of poor oversight with increased privatization and abuse and neglect is still the case, and inadequate care and conditions remain all too common in group homes and other state-funded facilities in Massachusetts and around the country.

Unfortunately, since the Post Audit Committee’s report was issued in 1997, it doesn’t appear as if the Legislature has committed itself to grappling with these problems in a serious way. Unless and until Representative Khan and Senator Lovely agree to listen directly to the families and guardians affected by the DDS system, we don’t see much to indicate that the Legislature has gotten serious about that.

  1. Anonymous
    January 11, 2018 at 9:02 pm


  2. Ed
    January 11, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Is this what they call a “public” hearing?

    • January 11, 2018 at 10:01 pm

      I guess it’s what might be called a quasi-public hearing. The public can hear but can’t speak! It’s really a travesty.

  3. Lisa & Bruce Packard
    January 11, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    DPPC – the fox guarding the henhouse. They have always had a conflict of interest and until or unless that changes, there won’t be any change for the ID and DD population.

  4. Anonymous
    January 11, 2018 at 11:47 pm


  5. Dick Faucher
    January 13, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    First they say they will have a hearing and let folks testify. Then they turnaround and cancel it. Hey folks the fox is going into the hen house to testify!

    Kinda reminds me of the 1950’s and 60’s atmosphere all over again.

    We are not banding together as we use to and just go up to the hill and make some noise. I am not seeing that initiative anymore.

    Everyone should be sending in testimony and making calls to their legislature. I also urge all to contact the commissioner’s office and request copies of the testimony given by DDS and DPPC.

  6. Dick Faucher
    January 13, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    David I just sent email to Rep Kahn and it came back undeliverable…amazing..

  7. Gail A Giles
    January 18, 2018 at 6:15 am

    DDS you are servicing vulnerable individuals. That is your mission.

  8. JoAnn Hardy
    January 25, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    How can I share this on Faceboo?


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