RIDDC Sets Stage for Building a Family Advocacy Coalition in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council’s (RIDDC) Annual Meeting took place on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at the Radisson Hotel in Warwick from 8:30 am-4:00 pm. The focus for the day was a discussion on strategies for building a statewide Family Advocacy Coalition in RI.

The Council invited Chas Moseley, US District Court Monitor for the RI Consent Decree, and Jennifer Wood, Deputy Secretary, RI Office of Health and Human Services (OHHS), to share their perspectives on building effective advocacy coalitions.

Consent Decree Opportunities

Chas Moseley commented that there are opportunities available through the Consent Decree for the Council and family groups to influence policy and practice in RI.

DOJ seal“The Consent Decree sets clear goals and expectations for the:

  • full inclusion of people with DD in society,
  • full access to supports people with disabilities need to beemployed in integrated, community jobs at competitive wages, and
  • full access to the assistance necessary to enable people toparticipate in the mainstream of community life.”

Chas Moseley at the RIDDC 2016 Annual MeetingChas mentioned that the Consent Decree requires the State to implement incentives to encourage transition to integrated settings through the use of public-private partnerships with people with developmental disabilities, families, employers and community organizations.

The State also has to develop and publicize its oversight process and mechanisms for people with disabilities, families, providers and advocates to file complaints and have their concerns heard in a timely manner.

The Consent Decree doesn’t create Coalitions to ensure that necessary advocacy takes place. Coalitions need to be developed by people with common interests/values.

advocacy works“Coalitions can be effective with careful planning; long-term commitment; research into best and promising practices; development of goals, plans and strategies; strategic meetings with key players who influence the design, funding and delivery of services; and individual action. It’s critical to be really clear on WHAT you want to accomplish!”

Chas suggested that the Coalition become a visible source for education and training which provides excellent opportunities for bringing people, ALL people together for collaboration, problem solving and providing advice and assistance. To build credibility it is important the Coalition be consistent and concise, identify key issues, use reliable data and “KNOW YOUR FACTS” to back up your points. Develop an “Agenda for Change” with a planned strategy that specifies a clear set of activities you want to accomplish.

Lastly Chas encouraged the Council to look at the data from the “National Core Indicators (NCI)” on the status/needs of families, ways to provide useful information to make a difference in their lives and the need for adequate crisis and health care supports. Another national resource is the “Supporting Families of individuals with intellectual disabilities Community of Practice” Initiative. There are now 16 states that are working on gaining consensus on issues related to supporting families at both the national and state level, that would inform practices and identify policies to build a sustainable system that results in improved supports to families.

Organizing for Change

Jennifer Wood at the RIDDC 2016 Annual MeetingJennifer Wood shared her thoughts on organizations that she is familiar with that were effective in terms of outcomes. People want to have a seat at the table.

You need to be clear on WHO you are, what is your PURPOSE and what are your GOALS.

She gave several examples of groups that have demonstrated effective organizational and leadership skills including the following:

  • Providence Student Union website bannerProvidence Student Union

    Young people freely unite to develop leadership skills, organize for ground-up improvements to their schools, and ultimately win a fair say in their education system. They began in 2010 with a series of Campaigns to improve their school, initially Hope High School. After achieving a number of school-based victories, the group then organized 6+ chapters across the Providence School District.

  • Olneyville Neighborhood Association (ONA)

    The ONA organizes low-income families, immigrants communities, and people of color in Olneyville and beyond to create a diverse, community-led movement that wins economic, social and political justice.

  • RI ACLU bannerThe RI American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

    The ACLU performs its work in three major ways: litigation, legislation and education. The cases that they take, the bills they lobby on and the public education activities that they sponsor, are designed to help preserve and protect the civil liberties of all Rhode Islanders against government infringement.

  • Young Voices

    For ten years, Young Voices has empowered more than 600 youth to achieve, succeed, and become confident civic leaders in their communities.

  • Marriage Equality RI (MERI)

    MERI’s consistent goal for years was to win access to marriage for all Rhode Island couples. The legislation had been introduced in the House every session since 1997 and finally passed in 2013, making RI the 10th State to legalize gay marriage.

  • Center for Disability Rights bannerCenter for Disability Rights (CDR)

    CDR partners with Disability Rights activists across the city, state, and country in order to achieve the goal of independence, integration, and civil rights of all people with disabilities. To achieve this goal, CDR uses a “pitchfork” strategy of advocacy, including Legislative, Legal, Media, Direct action, and Administrative.

advocacy toolkitJennifer gave a detailed roadmap of steps to take for being effective and creating positive change that the organizations previously mentioned utilized:

  • Collectively define a CLEAR MISSION, VISION and VALUES
  • Build Leadership Skills of people who are involved
  • Focus on ONE major issue and build a “campaign” around it for social change to show that it is the right thing to do…set and prioritize GOALS
  • Think about what is the CHANGE you want to create? Look at the Current State and the Future State (think of the concept of a Magic Wand and what you really want something to be)…“Culture Change”
  • Decide on a method of decision-making… Voting vs. Consensus
  • Set an AGENDA for Change with a clear set of activities/practices to change
  • Establish CREDIBILITY
  • Take ACTION to move the needle
  • Assess progress and then REPLAN.

“You’ve got to start somewhere. Success is the best way to keep people involved, motivated and willing to carry on the campaign. It’s important for people to understand what is in it for them.
There are a million reasons NOT to do something but only one reason why you SHOULD do it… YOU SHOULD DO IT.”

Next Steps

a sign reading: 'I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realized I AM SOMEBODY.'The RI Developmental Disabilities Council (RIDDC) will be scheduling meetings to discuss ideas for next steps for publicizing and establishing a Family Advocacy Coalition to strengthen the voices of families in RI.

If you would like to become involved, know families who may be interested in Family Advocacy or you want more information contact the Council at 401-737-1238 or email us at riddc@riddc.org.

Click here to download this story.

Click here to view/download the powerpoint from Chas Moseley.

Click here to view/download the powerpoint from Jennifer Wood.

RI Developmental Disabilities Council (RIDDC) to Focus on Building a Statewide Family Advocacy Coalition

The Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council (RIDDC) has scheduled its Annual Meeting for Saturday, October 15, 2016 at the Radisson Hotel in Warwick from 8:30 am-4:00 pm. The primary focus is to discuss strategies for building a statewide Family Advocacy Coalition in RI. The Council has invited two prominent individuals currently involved with oversight and implementation of RI’s 2014 Federal Consent Decree.

Charles Moseley - US District Court MonitorJennifer Wood - Deputy Secretary of the RI Office of Health and Human Services (OHHS)

Charles Moseley, the U.S. District Court Monitor for the RI Consent Decree, and Jennifer Wood, Deputy Secretary, RI Office of Health and Human Services (OHHS), are the Guest Speakers for the Council’s Annual Meeting. Chas Moseley and Jennifer Wood will speak about the Consent Decree, changes made and planned for in the DD system and within the State Department of BHDDH, and key steps to establish an effective statewide family advocacy coalition for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in RI.


RI Leadership in Development Disabilities Starts With Office of Health and Human Services (OHHS)

By Gina Macris

a photo of OHHS Deputy Secretary Jennifer WoodJennifer Wood, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, the top aide and top lawyer to Secretary Elizabeth Roberts, and a former chief of staff at the state Department of Education is orchestrating an effort to usher in a new era for Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

And she’s creating a brand new management team to help her do it,  including Brian Gosselin, a veteran of former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s administration, to serve as Chief Strategy Officer.

Since January, when a federal judge agreed to oversee Rhode Island’s compliance with a consent decree, Wood has emerged at the forefront of the state’s response to the court case.

Click here to read the rest of the story on Developmental Disabilities News

General Assembly Approves $15.4 Million Increase For DD; Worker Raises Are Assured

By Gina Macris

a photo of the Rhode Island State HouseRhode Island’s developmental disability budget for the next fiscal year includes assurances that a total of $9.1 million in Medicaid money will be spent to raise pay for direct support workers and to begin transforming the state’s system of services for those with intellectual challenges.

Shortly after 1:30 am on Saturday, June 18, The Senate approved total developmental disability funding of $246.2 million beginning July 1 in concurrence with the House vote taken Wednesday. That total, almost all of it state and federal Medicaid funds, is nearly $15.4 million more than the General Assembly approved last year at this time for the current budget, which closes on June 30.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Developmental Disabilities News

Developmental Disability News Blog

Developmental Disability News is a RI website that covers the long-term impact of the 2014 Consent Decree between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the State of RI, as well as a related Interim Settlement Agreement between the DOJ and the City of Providence signed in 2013. 

a photo of journalist Gina MacrisGina Macris is a career journalist with 43 years’ experience as a reporter for the Providence Journal in Providence, RI. She retired in 2012. During her time at the newspaper, she wrote two series about her first-born son, Michael M. Smith. Both series won prizes from the New England Associated Press News Executives Association.

Ms. Macris is an excellent writer who has taken the initiative to develop this News articles to provide information on the status of implementation of the Consent Order in RI and other related interesting topics that people should know about. She has written a number of articles so check the website frequently to keep up to date!

Check out Ms. Macris’ Developmental Disability News Blog Updates at: