Rhode Island Families Organized for Reform Change and Empowerment

“Here for each other
Here for our families”

“We are an independent family organization focused on innovation and success for people of all abilities.”

In August of 2017 RI FORCE started to get the word out about a Café Conversation to be held in the fall.

We encouraged families to be part of an opportunity for collective voices to be heard and recognized as we develop our strategic plan of action to address critical issues facing RI families.

We shared this information at the BHDDH Community Forum in Coventry and distributed over 50 flyers as well as continue to be on the agenda for updates at BHDDH Community Forum events.

Subsequently our announcement dates of the Café Conversations were disseminated to key stakeholder families, posted on BHDDH and DD NEWS blog. There was also press coverage about the RI FORCE group in the Newport Daily News as well as on the DD NEWS blog.

Over 100 people either rsvp to participate in our café conversation or mentioned interest in being notified about future RI FORCE meetings and events. Over 50 families participated in our Café Conversations events.

RI FORCE is now offering an opportunity for those family members who were not able to attend the Café Conversations through this Survey Monkey. Please take some time out of your busy days to fill this survey out so we can add your voice to a Key Findings report RI FORCE will be publishing in February 2018.

Thank You!

RI FORCE Café Conversation survey:


please submit survey responses before 11:45 PM (EST) on 1/31/18.

Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Position Description

The Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council believes that people with developmental disabilities should fully participate in community life. Men, women, and children should be able to enjoy family life. Children and adolescents should go to school. Adults should have the ability to choose to work. All should have decent homes, have friends, and live as independently as possible.

A Little History

In the early 1970s, Congress decided that it was in the national interest to offer people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live in typical homes and communities, and to exercise their full rights and responsibilities. It passed the Developmental Disabilities Act which, among other things, established Councils in each State to help plan services and to advocate for the civil and human rights of people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Who We Are & What We Do

The Governor appoints the 24 Rhode Islanders serving on the Council. Most are people with developmental disabilities and their family members. Others are representatives of agencies and groups that work for people with disabilities. Council members are men and women who have exceptional insight into the obstacles that confront people with disabilities throughout their lives. Indeed people with disabilities face a long list of problems and issues when it comes to education, employment, transportation, housing, recreation, and health care. Working as a Council we continue to discover and promote creative ways that self-advocates, families, service agencies and federal, state and local governments can work together so that people can live independent, fulfilling lives.

Current Challenges Facing the Council

The Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council operates in a challenging and uncertain environment. Among the issues which the Council and new Executive Director will confront together are:

  • maintaining a balance between the sometimes conflicting priorities of the Council’s multiple constituencies,
  • sustaining the Council’s significant mandate with limited financial resources,
  • ensuring that Council members help to inform the implementation of the Department of Justice Consent Decree, and
  • participating in design of the system that promotes community inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in compliance with recent Medicaid rulings.

Structure, Funding and Function

The Executive Director reports to the Chairperson and the Executive Committee of the Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council. The Executive Director is responsible for the oversight and coordination of all activities of the organization, including: the organization’s status as the designated state agency to receive, disperse, and report federal funds from a formula grant award through the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), Department of Health & Human Services; implementation of the Council’s 5-year State Plan as required under the Federal Developmental Disabilities Act; and performance of all duties and responsibilities as stipulated by the Council By-Laws and Policies and Procedures. The Executive Director serves as the lead liaison to all federal, state, and regional agencies and organizations that plan for and/or budget for supports and services for persons with developmental disabilities. Internally, the Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day operations and performance of the organization that honors the directives of the Council at large.

Specific Areas of Responsibility

  1. Policy/Advocacy

    The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring the effective development and advocacy of public policy positions of the Council that further the Council’s State Plan goals and objectives and/or address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring the coordination of all policy and advocacy efforts with AAIDD, the State’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), other state agencies, the Rhode Island Legislature, Office of the Governor, state and local disability advocacy organizations, and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD).Objectives for demonstrating meeting these responsibilities include the following:

    • Providing or assuring staff provision of effective legislative education and advocacy activities to support Council policies before the State Legislature.
    • Providing or assuring staff provision of effective education and advocacy activities at the federal level either directly, or via the AAIDD and/or NACDD.
    • Participating or assuring member/staff participation on select policy-related groups that will further the goals and objectives of the Council, prioritizing the recruitment of member participation whenever possible.
  2. Program Planning & Implementation

    The Executive Director has lead responsibility for the development of the Council’s Five Year State Plan and for the preparation of the annual Program Performance Report to AAIDD. The Executive Director ensures that the Council’s progress in meeting the State Plan goals and objectives is periodically assessed and that amendments to the State Plan are submitted as necessary. The Executive Director ensures that the Council is consistently and effectively planning and implementing strategies to achieve the goals and objectives of the Five Year State Plan, and that the strategies/initiatives are adequately managed.Objectives for meeting these responsibilities include the following:

    • Ensuring that a system for programmatic and contractual management of Council-funded projects is implemented and managed in a manner that makes certain that the Council funded projects achieve their intended outcomes, comply with contractual requirements, and meet the federal obligation and liquidation schedule.
    • Ensuring that a system is implemented that effectively solicits and distills the collective wisdom of the membership to inform the Council’s vision.
    • Preparing the annual Program Performance Report (PPR) in a manner that accurately presents the Council’s work for the past year and is submitted on a timely basis.
    • Ensuring that the Council members are sufficiently informed of the progress of the Council- funded projects and achievement of the State Plan goals and objectives. This information will be provided in a variety of formats to ensure that it is understandable to all.
    • Ensuring that the Council’s State Plan is based on thorough planning, reflects the vision of the Council, and provides direction for the work of the Council.
  3. Program Administration

    The Executive Director is responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of an operational infrastructure that effectively and efficiently supports and facilitates the Council’s work to achieve its State Plan goals and objectives. The Executive Director provides lead staff support to the Chairperson in performing the duties and functions of that position. The Executive Director assures all day-to-day operations within the offices of the organization are in compliance with the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act), laws and regulations applying to Council’s 501c (3) status, Council By-laws, applicable state laws and requirements, and Council Policy and Procedures. The Executive Director assures adequate resources and supports are provided and available, including adequate risk management protection for the Council. The Executive Director assures that all Council members are appropriately supported in order to insure the most effective utilization of their skills, interests, and abilities, and the accomplishment of the Council’s State Plan goals and objectives.Objectives to demonstrate meeting these responsibilities include the following:

    • Ensuring the effective management of the Council’s financial, business and office operations; of the programmatic and contractual management system for Council-funded projects; of the Council’s public policy and advocacy activities; and of the Council’s communication, marketing and public relations activities.
    • Ensuring that the work of the Council and its committees is effectively planned and implemented.
    • Providing sound reliable advice and guidance to the Council and its members relative to meeting the intent and requirements of the DD Act, Council By-Laws, applicable state laws, and Council Policies and Procedures.
    • Providing lead staffing responsibilities for the Executive Committee and full Council meetings and ensures that the work of these committees and Council is effectively implemented.
    • Supporting the governance structure of the Council by working effectively with the Council at large and its Executive Committee to include the resolution of differences/conflict to optimize working relationships within and outside of the Council.
  4. Staff Management & Supervision

    The Executive Director is responsible for the recruitment and supervision of all Council staff and contractors, as well as assuring timely performance evaluations and support necessary for staff to perform the work of the Council. The Executive Director is responsible for the recommendation of staff/contractor hiring consistent with the Council Policies and Procedures. The Executive Director is responsible for the coordination and effectiveness of all functions of the Council.Objectives for meeting these responsibilities include the following:

    • Ensuring that staff receives the training, support and guidance necessary to effectively perform the responsibilities of their positions.
    • Ensuring the effective performance of staff in carrying out the work of the Council, including ensuring that the office runs efficiently, with established office hours and regularly scheduled staff meetings
    • Ensuring that performance evaluations are completed no later than one month after the end of the performance review period.
  5. Fiscal

    The Executive Director assures appropriate oversight in the receipt, disbursement and reporting of all funds, including federal funds through AAIDD and the Federal DD Act.Objectives for meeting these responsibilities include the following:

    • Ensuring that the financial, budgeting and accounting operations for the Council are managed in a manner that ensures the Council’s compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, Council Policies and Procedures, and requirements; and that the federal obligation and liquidation schedule is met
    • Effectively managing the Council’s relationship with the Designated State Agency in order to remain in compliance, while at the same time advocating for the needs of the Council.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Ability to communicate verbally and in writing professionally, effectively, and in a clear and articulate manner. This includes but is not limited to formulating and articulating in a convincing manner, the goals and objectives of the Council.
  • Broad based educational background; BA/BS, MA/MS, and/or comparable life experience.
  • Experience working in an executive capacity.
  • Knowledge/experience honoring and engaging the need for persons with disabilities to be in charge of their own lives. Demonstrated commitment to the principle(s) of Independent Living and self-directed decision-making (including but not limited to meaningful daily activities, employment, and community engagement)
  • Experience engaging persons with diverse life experiences and perspectives in decision-making and advocacy activities.
  • Ability to exercise leadership internally within the organization and externally on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Demonstrated analytical and problem-solving skills that provide the ability to clearly and accurately interpret government regulations, financial data, and operational needs, and develop viable solutions.
  • Ability to closely manage a budget. (The RIDDC, due to the state’s small population, receives the ‘minimum allotment’ from the federal government.)
  • Considerable knowledge of organizational management and experience with personnel supervision.
  • Demonstrated capacity to administer a multifaceted non-profit organization, including experience with grant writing, funds disbursement, and issuance.

Additional Expected Qualifications

  • Considerable knowledge of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act).
  • Considerable knowledge of the purpose and functions of state Councils on Developmental Disabilities under the DD Act.
  • Considerable knowledge of intellectual and developmental disabilities, including issues and systems that affect the ability of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independently and productively in an integrated community.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of transitional complexities present throughout the lifespan of individuals and their families/guardians (ex. child; child to adult; aging).
  • Considerable knowledge and background about advocacy, public policy, state legislation, and the activities of state agencies which administer the systems and/or advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Knowledge of system planning and applicable federal laws, rules and regulations, and ability to interpret and apply this knowledge to the Council’s operations and State Plan.

Salary and Benefits

The salary range is $65-85,000, depending on experience. The benefit package includes:

  • Health
  • Dental
  • Paid Time Off

For more information about the Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council, please visit our website. To apply, please submit your resume and cover letter to edsearch@riddc.org by no later than 5:00 pm (EST) on October 2, 2017.

The Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.

Celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness MonthMarch is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions people with developmental disabilities make to our society.

The National Association of Councils on Developmental
Disabilities (NACDD), Association of University Centers on
Disabilities and National Disability Rights Network have
partnered to launch a social media campaign called “Life Side-by-Side” to highlight the many ways in which people with and without developmental disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities.

The RI Developmental Disabilities Council (RIDDC) and the RI Cross Disability Coalition became involved with this project a year ago and shared some stories of people in RI. We are also involved this year and want to share even more success stories of individuals! So anyone who wants to join in, jump in and help us spread the word about Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month!

The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life, tell the personal stories of people who live with a disability and how they are involved in their communities as well as the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to their communities. Throughout the month, the Council and NACDD will be posting resources from various DD Council and states on social media including videos, blogs, toolkits and other shareable content.

You can be a part of this campaign by:

  • Submitting to the RI Developmental Disabilities Council (RIDDC) any stories (just a couple of short paragraphs), photos, videos, and/or blogs that we can share with NACDD about an individual with a disability who is involved and connected in the community
  • Download a “Life Side by Side” graphics to use on social media or in your e-mail signature.

Visit the #DDAwareness17 page for more information on the campaign.

Please email your story/information anytime in the next three weeks that you want to share as part of this national public awareness campaign.

For more information about the campaign or if you have any questions contact Sue Babin or Tanja Blicker-Ucran at RIDDC at 737-1238

Developmental Disabilities Community Forum Meetings Scheduled

the BHDDH crestThe Department of BHDDH, Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), will be holding two open community forums in February 2017. The first forum is specifically for individuals and families involved with self-directed supports and the second one for all other persons.

a graphic of word bubbles with questions like 'where?', 'what?', and 'how?'The Forums are typically held quarterly. They are an opportunity for people with disabilities, families, advocates, providers and other interested persons to meet with the director and leadership staff from the department, hear about updates on different policies, topics and various initiatives. It is also an opportunity for you to provide some feedback and ask questions.

Please save the following dates and times. You can click here to check for updates on the BHDDH website.

a graphic of a note with the words 'put this on your calendar!'February 6, 2017 – Self-Directed Individuals and their Families

4:00 – 6:00 PM
Cranston Senior Center
1070 Cranston Street
Cranston, RI

February 9, 2017 – All Other Individuals and Families

4:00 – 6:00 PM
North Providence Senior Center
2 Atlantic Blvd
North Providence, RI

Supreme Court Cases May Reshape Special Education

Supreme Court Considers How Schools Support Students With Disabilities

a photo of the supreme court

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in a dispute that advocates describe as the most important case involving public school special education in three decades.

At issue is whether federal law requires public schools to provide more than the bare minimum in special services for children with disabilities. The court’s ruling could have a profound effect on millions of children.


How US Supreme Court Cases could Reshape Special Education

In a year without many landmark cases, two cases provide the high court an opportunity to significantly reshape how American schools educate students diagnosed with disabilities.

a photo of Ehlena Fry and her service dog

The high court heard arguments Wednesday in what experts say is the most important special education case to come before the justices in almost 25 years. The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, will revisit the knotty question of what quality of education school districts must provide their disabled students.

The court heard arguments two months ago in another special education case, Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, that questions when the parents of disabled students can seek damages from a school district in federal court.