Local legislators came together with parents and other key members of the special education community to learn more about the issues of importance, as well as challenges the group may potentially be facing. The event, held on the grounds of the Crystal Springs campus in Assonet, was held on Friday, November 14th, with attendees including State Representative Carole Fiola, State Representative Steven Howitt, State Representative Alan Silvia and Speaker Pro Tempore, Representative Patricia Haddad, a long-time friend of Crystal Springs and supporter of the special education community.

Chapter 766 is the Massachusetts law which guarantees the rights of all young people with special needs, from ages 3 to 22, to an educational program best suited to their needs. Topics discussed at this meeting included the significance of funding Chapter 766 approved schools, the history behind the passing of this legislation and the positive impact it has had on families. Leading this discussion was James V. Major, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools, a statewide association of approved private special education schools dedicated to providing educational programs and services to students with special needs.

Gary Blumenthal, President and CEO of the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, was on hand to discuss the Massachusetts Statewide Transition Plan, compliance with CMS’ requirements and meaningful community integration.

Legislators and event attendees also had the opportunity to hear directly from parents of children currently residing within the Crystal Springs community. Parents recounted their own unique stories, including the challenges they faced prior to the placement of their child in a Chapter 766 funded program, personal experiences in agencies outside of Crystal Springs and their concerns regarding the recent passing of the HCBS Final Rule Legislation and the implications of this regulation.

With the parent testimonials provided, as well as the relevant information offered by both Mr. Major and Mr. Blumenthal, the meeting’s purpose of having the legislators in attendance leaving with not only pertinent knowledge, but also a personal connection to Crystal Springs’, the individuals we support and their families, as well as the significant issues they face, was successfully accomplished. On behalf of MAAPS, ADDP, and the Crystal Springs’ students, residents, parents, staff members and Board of Directors, we thank the legislators for their time and their attention.