Family Support & Family Stabilization Services, including our Family Support Center & Family Autism Center, are core programs that The Arc has provided for more than 30 years. These services are often the very first supports that a family receives after their child is diagnosed with a disability or when they move to our region. Based on our interactions with families, we’ve learned that family support can be a lifeline service – helping families to remain together, ensuring a supportive home, and allowing working parents to continue with their jobs.
The Arc of South Norfolk has provided these services in partnership and contract with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) for over 30 years. These services are an essential part of our mission. Funded by DDS, we provide experienced professional staff to guide families with advocacy and advice for available services. Additionally, thanks to our generous donors, we are able to offer services and supports to many who come to our centers, especially those in immediate need, even if those services are not funded by the Commonwealth.
Our original program was based on a respite care model,
providing staffing services, now delivered to the homes of numerous individuals
and their families. Our services have
expanded to offering information and referral, clinical services, skills
training, brokerage services, crisis intervention, support groups and service
navigation. Additionally, the program
administers flexible funding and purchased goods and services for families such
as adaptive equipment, specialized activities and emergencies.
Throughout our 65-year history, we have made it a
priority to design programs that both involve community members and reflect the
self-advocacy of our constituents. The
Family Autism Center began at the request of families and is now one of the
seven Autism Support Centers funded by DDS.
The center is a state leader, advocating for legislative policy on
behalf of the people with autism spectrum disorder; serving as a powerful
community resource with programs such as ALEC (Autism and Law Enforcement
Education Coalition) and administering the Autism Children’s Waiver program.
Additionally, we administer the DESE program, a collaborative
program between DDS and the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education. DESE supports families through services to support
the families in keeping their children at home, rather than choosing a residential
All of these programs rely on a full array of professional
staff. These services are essential for
many families and for the people we serve.
In addition to the historical respite services and financial stipends
that The Arc administers on behalf of the Commonwealth, we offer service
navigation to assist families with flexible funding and accessing public
benefits such as Social Security, MassHealth, and SNAP. These staff help families access services such
as HESSCO Elder Services, Meals on Wheels, and guardianship planning.
We also assist individuals and families with referrals
to the Autism Insurance Resource Center for coverage of various therapies, to Autism
Housing Pathways for public housing resources, and to IEP clinics to advise families
on their child’s Individual Education Plan.
These services are all provided at no cost to our individuals and
families. Our focus is to broaden
families’ knowledge and access to services in the greater community.
Outside the home, it is important for our program to
establish collaborations and partnerships with a number of organizations and
businesses in our local communities, in order to offer a diverse array of
choices for people to participate in. Those
served by our program benefit from community social groups, school vacation
week programs, community support social groups and family fun days. Examples of these partnerships include
community movie days sponsored by the local Elks lodge and a weekly bocce
program hosted by the Italian American Club.
When life becomes challenging and difficult, when
families experience a crisis and need professional assistance, our staff step
in to help. Thanks to the support of
funding from DDS, from the 12 towns in our area and from many private donors,
we can be there for many of the needs, including emergency needs, of the people
Our organization was started by a group of families,
and throughout our history the role of families – as founders, board members,
donors, and supporters – has been essential to our success. Families also set the tone for our future, for
the changing needs of the people we serve and how we provide it.
We welcome feedback on your family support experience
and suggestions for how your family can be better served. I invite you to visit our website (www.arcsouthnorfolk.org)
or call to learn more about our Family Support programs. Please feel free to contact Pamela Martino (firstname.lastname@example.org),
our Director of Family Support, or Brian Clark (email@example.com),
our Director of the Family Autism Center. Also, we would appreciate your input with your
DDS liaisons and state legislators about how our Family Support programs have
helped you and your loved ones.
Message from the desk of Dan Burke February 2020 Family Support & Family Stabilization Services, including our Family Support Center & Family Autism Center, are
Lifeworks and its affiliate organization, The Arc of South Norfolk, have been heartened by recent headlines reporting an influx of individuals with disabilities being hired
A message from the desk of Dan Burke This past spring, The Arc of South Norfolk saw the passing of an era with the news