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

BHDDH Using New Assessment Tool for Adults with Developmental Disabilities …”Supports Intensity Scale: SIS-A Adult Version”

the BHDDH crestthe AAIDD logo

Background Information

Supporting people in community settings is
recognized as the new way of thinking in the disabilities field. The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) has been developing tools and informational materials to advance this paradigm.

a photo of the Supports Intensity Scale coverThe Supports Intensity Scale (SIS), is an assessment tool developed by AAIDD and published in 2004. The SIS measures an individual’s support needs in personal, work-related, and social activities in order to identify and describe the types and intensity of the supports the person requires.

Approximately 23 States, including the RI State Division of Developmental
Disabilities (DDD), are currently using the SIS to assess the support needs of new individuals determined eligible for services and individuals currently receiving services.

The assessment is done during an interview with the individual and the people who know him/her well. Since 2011, RI has used the SIS assessment to determine the support needs for individuals receiving developmental disability services to live a successful and independent life, as possible. The SIS was chosen to replace an assessment used by DDD called the “Personal Capacities Inventory”, which some people thought was too subjective. The SIS was utilized by many other states and thought to be a more reliable instrument for assessment.

What Is the SIS-A?

a photo of the SIS-A coverThe SIS-A is a newer version of the SIS with some restructured and additional questions in the areas of behavioral and medical/health care needs. RI DDD started using the SIS-A this month. There have been numerous complaints by providers, advocates and families that the original SIS was not capturing a true picture of a person’s medical and behavioral needs.

What Does the SIS Measure?

The SIS-A measures support requirements in 57 life activities and 28 behavioral and medical areas. The assessment is done through an interview with the consumer, and those who know the person well.
SIS-A measures support needs in the areas of:

  • home living,a man with a pencil, checking off on a clipboard
  • community living,
  • lifelong learning,
  • employment,
  • health and safety,
  • social activities, and
  • protection and advocacy.

The Scale ranks each activity according to frequency (none, at least once a month, etc.), amount (none, less than 30 minutes, etc.), and type of support (monitoring, verbal gesturing, etc.).

What are Support Needs?

Support needs are the pattern and intensity of supports necessary for a person to successfully participate in activities linked with normative human functioning.The supports approach recognizes that individual needs change over time, and that supports must change as well. They must be developed and delivered in age-appropriate settings, with the understanding that, regardless of intellectual abilities or limitations, people should have the opportunity engage in activities and life experiences just like any other person.

“SUPPORTS” means the assistance and level of intensity a person needs to do something successfully… things needed to have a good life including friends/relationships, choices, home, employment or meaningful day activities and community activities. The SIS measures support needs to find out:

  • WHAT TYPE of support is needed
  • HOW OFTEN support is needed
  • HOW MUCH support is needed

“SUCCESS” means a level of performance, involvement, and participation in an activity that is comparable to that of typical adults without disabilities.

Statewide Informational Meeting

In addition to complaints regarding the questions within the original SIS format families, advocates and providers have had ongoing concerns about the interviewing process conducted by staff from DDD in terms of how questions have been asked and scored by DDD staff Interviewers. Some individuals with disabilities have been tested more than once with the SIS and have had very different results ultimately changing their Tier Authorization to a lower Funding Level.

Many family members, advocates and providers have described the SIS as a tool to cut funding. They have said DDD staff interviewers administering the questionnaire have been argumentative regarding how to answer questions on the SIS, show little respect for families, and sometimes appear determined to lower assessment scores.

Heather Mincey, DDD AdministratorHeather Mincey, DDD Administrator, has stated the State is working on addressing these concerns and has encouraged parents to file Appeals if they believe the SIS results for their family members are inaccurate – or if they have problems with a shortage of funds.

Appeals are ongoing and very time-consuming, especially for parents who have full time jobs, and for Plan Writers and staff from provider agencies who have to complete the required paperwork for the Appeal.

Mincey referred any further questions about the SIS to Donna Standish, State DDD SIS Supervisor, at 401-462-2628 or at

On November 17, 2016 BHDDH hosted a statewide informational meeting with an AAIDD representative to help individuals and families prepare for the change to the SIS-A and to answer questions. Complaints about the SIS that have continuously surfaced at various BHDDH public sessions throughout the year indicate there a lack of public confidence in the SIS. A number of family members expressed their serious concerns about their personal experiences with SIS interviews and results.

Several suggestions and safeguards were mentioned to help family members and providers feel more confident in the SIS process.

To read about these suggestions and more about the meeting, click here to check out Gina Macris’s article.

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.


Gallivan’s Short Stint in RI Brings Plenty of Change, Starting with Plans for Better DD Assessment

a photo of interim DDD director Jane GallivanIn just the few months she has served as interim director of Rhode Island’s Division of Developmental Disabilities, Jane Gallivan has been instrumental in changing the state’s approach to providing services for individuals with intellectual challenges. On the most concrete level, she has set plans in motion to adopt an improved version of a controversial assessment – the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) – to more accurately determine the needs of clients.

With help from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Gallivan also has shifted strategies for presenting the division’s budget so that the state Budget Office and the General Assembly better understand what it means to support individuals with developmental disabilities.

The initiatives Gallivan has begun, and the tone she has set, are expected to continue after her role changes Friday, Sept. 30, to that of long-distance consultant.



Department of Justice US District Court Monitor Charles Moseley Issues Report on Progress of Consent Decree in RI

Charles Moseley - US District Court MonitorCourt Monitor Chas Moseley has issued his first report assessing RI’s progress on the Department of Justice Consent Decree filed on April 9, 2014. The terms of the Consent Order resulted in the State making a commitment to restructure the nature and operation of day and employment services to provide people with developmental disabilities the training/support they need to become employed in competitive, integrated jobs at or above minimum wage in the community.

This report documents the progress that has taken place during the first year of Consent Decree implementation with a particular focus on the provisions specifically related to two target populations, the RI Youth Exit Target population and the RI Youth Transition Target Population. The report also covers activities related to key infrastructure development including the establishment of the Sheltered Workshop Conversion Institute, the Conversion Trust Fund, Quality Improvement and other programs. Progress on several of the benchmarks related to activities of the RI Sheltered Workshop Target Population and the RI Day Target Population are deferred to subsequent reports.

adults with developmental disabilities attend a press release to announce the State's employment settlement with the Department of JusticeThe agreement requires the three State agencies responsible for providing the majority of services to children and adults with IDD, the department of Behavioral Health Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Office of Rehabilitative Services (ORS) to reach key performance milestones within the first year and on an ongoing basis thereafter.

This review reveals that the State has made significant progress in meeting the many performance benchmarks identified by the Consent Decree that were to be achieved during this period. Additional actions need to be taken by BHDDH, ORS and RIDE to fully operationalize the changes that have been made and to build the foundation for the next stages of system change and program development.

This report identifies key benchmarks for each operational provision of the Consent Decree and the status of the State’s efforts to address the various outcomes. Each section concludes with a statement of recommended actions the State should take to meet Consent Decree requirements.

infoFor more information:

To Review a Copy of the Full Report, click here.