Improving care. Changing lives.

Organizations in MA Supporting Children and Families

ARC of Massachusetts: 

What they do: The ARC of Massachusetts is a grassroots organization with a mission “to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, and their families. We fulfill this through advocacy for community supports and services that foster social inclusion, self-determination, and equity across all aspects of society.”

The ARC of Massachusetts has 18 local chapters offering direct programming and community links.

How this organization may help your child/family: The ARC of Massachusetts can help families with advocacy, brokering, planning, referrals, and resources. The resource section of the website organizes information by age, disability type, and topic. Topic sections include background information and links for options, resources, and services.


Exceptional Lives:

What they do: Exceptional Lives is a local nonprofit with two types of resources.

The Interactive Resource Directory enables users to customize searches for a child by location and needs. This directory offers information on therapist, programs, and services.

The Personalized Guides can be customized to help families figure out what steps to take when addressing issues around:

  • Early Intervention
  • Special Education and IEPs
  • Guardianship and Adult Decision-Making
  • Health Insurance and Medicaid
  • Transition to Adulthood, Employment, and more

How this organization may help your child/family: Personalized Guides take a step-by-step approach to complicated problems and can help families figure out next steps and how to apply for benefits. The focus is helping families identify the support they need across ages and disabilities. Families are invited to call, text, or email with questions. Call or text 1-844-354-1212. Emails to info@exceptionallives.org

 

Federation for Children with Special Needs: 

What they do: FCSN “provides information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities.” The FCSN oversees 15 projects in 5 areas “related to supporting families whose children have special educational needs and special healthcare needs, as well as families of culturally and economically underserved populations by promoting family engagement within general education.”

  • Special Education Parent Center
  • Family Support Center
  • Health Advocacy Center
  • Family and Community Engagement Center
  • Parent-Professional Leadership Center

How this organization may help your child/family: The FCSN operates a number of programs that support most JBCC families. Families are invited to call FCSN with questions for guidance on matters of special education, transition planning, health care, and more. Directories of programming throughout the state are available, including lists for camps and support groups. Descriptions and links to these important resources can be found on the FCSN Program’s page.

 

Health Care for All: 

What they do: Health Care for All is a health justice organization with quality, affordable, accessible health care for all Massachusetts residents as their goal.

How this organization may help your child/family: Health Care for All staffs a multilingual Health Insurance HelpLine. The program is available to help “Massachusetts residents at all income levels with enrolling into health insurance coverage, answering questions about insurance, and troubleshooting cases.” Counselors are fully trained on all of state programs.

HelpLine: Monday through Friday, 9 am - 5 pm at (800) 272-4232 

 

Mass Advocates for Children (MAC):

What they do: MAC, a private non-profit organization, works to be “an independent and effective voice for children who face significant barriers to equal educational and life opportunities.” Advocacy efforts have included special education, mental health, and juvenile justice.

How this organization may help your child/family: MAC Helpline is staffed weekdays to help “children who are facing barriers to receiving educational supports and services to which they are legally entitled.” MAC’s primary focus is on “children with disabilities, homeless children, children who have been expelled or suspended from school, and children traumatized by exposure to family violence or other adverse experiences.”

The Helpline website highlights what to expect when calling, resources, letters, and FAQs. Supports offered in English and Spanish. (617) 357-8431 ext. 3224

 

MASSACHUSETTS 211: 

What they do: Mass 211 is free, confidential, multilingual resource to connect callers with essential health and human services available in the caller’s community. This may include, but is not limited to, finding government benefits and services, nonprofit organizations, and support groups.

How this organization may help your child/family: Mass 211 is available 24/7. This resource can help families when they don’t know where to look for help for essential services. Resources mentioned on the website include help finding a food bank, heating fuel payment assistance, child care, early education, after school programs, and more.

 

Special Needs Advocacy Network, Inc. (SPaN): 

What they do: SPaN “provide(s) continuing professional development and support for advocates and other professionals in the field of Special Education across Massachusetts. Collaboration exists with other professionals as well as with parents of children with disabilities.”

How this organization may help your child/family: SPaN “provide(s) parents of children with disabilities a better understanding of the role of an advocate and act as a resource for advocacy services.” Parents can call for information and referrals.

 

SEPACs (Special Education Parent Advisory Councils)

What they do: Each Massachusetts public school district is required to have a SEPAC. SEPACs give a voice to families and offer opportunities for families to influence special education programs and policies. Massachusetts law has specific requirements for each SEPAC

Major SEPAC events include regular educational meetings with school administration, educational programs, and parent events. Some communities have robust websites and speaker programs.

Click here for an unofficial list of communities and their websites 

How this organization may help your child/family: SEPACs provide families formal and informal opportunities to share information, connect with other families, and participate with school administrators. Concord Public/Concord-Carlisle Regional SEPAC has a well-regarded website with information and resources for parents. 

 

Shriver/INDEX: 

What they do: The Shriver Center of The University of Massachusetts Medical School is home to INDEX, “a comprehensive information resource of programs and services for people with disabilities in Massachusetts; and a technology-development group that offers solutions for government and nonprofit organizations nationwide.” Information on programs, providers, services, and fact sheets for people with disabilities can be found at DisabilityInfo.org.

How this organization may help your child/family: DisabilityInfo.org is a good place to get started when looking for resources. It’s possible to customize searches. The Fact Sheet Library has resources by topic and includes addressing basic needs (financial information on benefits and housing), education, advocacy, and resources for supporting the broader development of a child (such as camps and mentors). Massachusetts residents can call INDEX Information & Referral Specialists at 800-642-0249.

 

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