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:

National Organizations Release Toolkit to Help Stakeholders Advocate for Strong Implementation of HCBS Settings Rule

a toolkit graphicThe Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C., along with other disability and aging advocacy groups, has issued a Toolkit to help advocates push for strong implementation of the new Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rules in their states.

The new HCBS Settings Rules require all settings funded by Medicaid HCBS programs to:

  • provide opportunities for participants to be integrated in and engage in community life,
  • have access to the community,
  • control their personal resources,
  • provide opportunities for people to seek employment and work in competitive integrated settings, and
  • ensure the person receives services in the community to the same degree of access as individuals not receiving Medicaid home and community-based services..

For these new rules to have “a real impact and move states towards more integrated and individualized services, advocates must get engaged now and push for a strong transition plan,” said Alison Barkoff, Bazelon’s Director of Advocacy. All states have already submitted to CMS their initial transition plans, and CMS has provided feedback to states about needed improvements and next steps for amending and implementing their plans. “The next several months are a critical time for advocacy because that is when states will be making important decisions about their transition plans,” she said.

a graphic of  the letter 'i' for informationThis new toolkit provides advocates with detailed information about the HCBS Settings Rule and provides action steps for advocates to impact implementation of the new rules in their states. The toolkit contains three documents:

  1. The Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Settings Rules: What You Should Know;
  2. Home and Community-Based Services Regulations Q&A: Settings Presumed to be Institutional & the Heightened Scrutiny Process, and
  3. The Home and Community-Based Settings Rules: How to Advocate for Truly Integrated Community Settings (unabridged and abridged).

States have until March 2019 to transition their HCBS programs into full compliance with the new settings requirements. The Bazelon Center developed this toolkit with a coalition of other disability and aging advocates working together for strong implementation of the HCBS Settings Rule.

Which Types of Settings are Affected?

Type of Setting

Provider-Owned or Controlled

Residential Providers*
  • Group Homes
  • Family Centered Support Homes
  • Shared Living
  • Certain PNMIs
Non-Residential Providers
  • Adult day health centers
  • Center-based community support
  • Enclaves and sheltered work shops

*Rules apply to the setting in which a member receiving HCBS is living, whether or not the member receives HCBS in that setting.

The Bazelon Center’s advocacy around the HCBS Settings Rule is funded in part by the Ruderman Family Foundation.


Want more information?

To learn more, see and, a website with up-to-date information about the rules and states’ implementation maintained by several member organizations in the coalition.

To see a copy of the Statewide Transition Plan (STP) that was submitted by Rhode Island or any other State, click here.

We Want Your Feedback for Planning the Future

a silhouette of a neighborhood with a sunrise behind it

The RI Developmental Disabilities Council is in the process of writing our new 5 Year State Plan (2016-2021). We want to know what YOU think is important in the lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families in RI.

The Council is federally funded to support policies and practice that promote systems change for the full inclusion and participation of people with developmental disabilities in all aspects of community life in RI. We are involved with and support capacity building initiatives that promote and improve self-determination, productivity, inclusion and independence of people with disabilities to live a good quality life. Councils design 5-year state plans that address new ways of improving service delivery.

The Council’s State Plan identifies “Areas of Emphasis” that relate to Goals from the following:


  • Quality Assurance
  • Education and Early Intervention
  • Child Care
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Recreation
  • Formal and Informal Community Supports

Please provide us with your ideas and feedback on what “Areas of Emphasis” you would like to see the Council get involved with over the next five years in RI.

We need people to share their thoughts. That is how we can work together to build capacity to improve the full inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all aspects of community living in RI.

Send your comments BY EMAIL or give us a call at 737-1238.

The Community of Practice for Supporting Families of Individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Supporting Families of Individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities“The Community of Practice for Supporting Families of Individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities” is a national project from the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) and UMKC-Institute for Human Development, UCEDD.

The Supporting Families project involves six states (Washington State, CT, DC, TN, MO, OK) working to develop systems of support for families throughout the lifespan of their family member with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Supporting Families project is operated under a five year grant awarded to NASDDDS by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) beginning October 2012. The goal is to build capacity through a community of practice across and within States to create policies, practices and systems to better assist/support families that include a member with I/DD across the lifespan.

Supporting people with disabilities to live and fully participate in their local communities throughout their lives has emerged as a fundamental right and consideration in disability policy and practices. Because of the role that families continue to play in the lives of their family members, future policies and practices must reflect the family as part of the system of support.

“Supporting the family” is defined as a set of strategies targeting the family unit but that ultimately benefit the individual with I/DD. “Supporting the family” strategies are intended to assist family members who have a key role in the provision of support and guidance of their family member with I/DD to address the emotional, physical and material well-being of the entire family.

Supporting Families of Individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities - round supports chart

“Charting the LifeCourse” is a framework developed through the project to help individuals and families of all abilities and at any age or stage of life develop a vision for a good life, think about what they need to know and do, identify how to find or develop supports, and discover what it takes to live the lives they want to live. Informational materials/resources are available on the website listed below.

Innovations in Supporting Families - Free Webinar Series Banner

A FREE webinar series is available focused on innovative strategies to enhance the systems that support families of individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities.


For more information:


The Federal U.S. Department’s of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) Release Policy Statement on Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs

The “Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs,” released jointly by the Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) on September 14, 2015, states that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations”.

Children with disabilities and their families continue to face significant barriers to accessing inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, and too many preschool children with disabilities are only offered the option of receiving special education services in settings separate from their peers without disabilities.

The ED/HHS policy statement:

  • Sets an expectation for high-quality inclusion in early childhood programs;
  • Highlights the legal and research base for inclusion;
  • Identifies challenges to adopting inclusive practices;
  • Provides recommendations to states and local programs and providers for increasing inclusive early learning opportunities for all children; and
  • Links to free resources for stateslocal programs and providers, and families that have been developed to support inclusion of children with disabilities in high-quality early education programs.

The policy statement was written with the input of early learning professionals, families, and other early learning stakeholders. Though it focuses on including young children with disabilities, it is ED’s and HHS’s shared vision that all people be meaningfully included in all facets of society throughout the course of their lives. This begins in early childhood programs and continues into schools, places of employment, and the broader community.


Full Policy Statement

Executive Summary

Letter by Secretaries Duncan and Burwell on Inclusion in Early Learning Programs