This morning, May 3, I had the honor and pleasure of attending the annual Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Department of Developmental Service's Central Region Citizen's Advisory Board.
On April 23, I was sworn in as a member of the North Central Citizen's Advisory Board, and this was my first official function representing families in the eastern part of the region that includes the towns of Ayer, Groton, Shirley and Pepperell.
The Citizen's Advisory Boards (CABs) are the conduit through which the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) receives feedback on how well they are serving the families of people with disabilities.
While I was appointed to the CAB in part because of my experience in advocating for families of children with disabilities, it's clear that I will have to cast a much wider net if I am to be an effective voice on the CAB.
I need to learn about the challenges and successes that DDS faces in serving our communities and act as a voice for people with disabilities that cover the full age range from school age through elder services.
DDS is placing considerable emphasis and resources toward improving services for adults after they leave the school system at age 22, and they need as much input as possible to build multiple paths toward meaningful employment and a supportive living environment for adults with disabilities.
The CAB meets once a month, and at each meeting I have a chance to offer feedback and ask questions about how the system works.
One reason I accepted the CAB appointment was to better understand how families might access the DDS system, because I don't find it to be an easy or intuitive process.
With that in mind, I'm writing to reach out to families, school officials and legislators who are working with DDS to help me figure out what's working, what's not working, and how I can help.
Today's breakfast was an event designed to recognize the good work of caregivers and teachers across the region, and I heard some wonderful stories and met some amazing people.
I know that there are people doing the same incredible work in our communities and I hope that at next year's breakfast I will see more names and faces from our towns at the event and on the list of award recipients.
I look forward to serving all of our communities.