The Center for Public Representation is a non-profit public interest law firm that has been a major force in promoting improvements in services for people with mental illness and other disabilities through the systemic enforcement of their legal rights. Accomplishments over the course of four decades include developing the blueprint for the community mental health system in Western Massachusetts, leading to the first completely integrated community system of care; winning a landmark federal court ruling mandating wraparound, home-based services for 30,000 children with serious emotional disturbance; litigating and settling the first class action lawsuit to establish the rights of nursing facility residents with developmental disabilities to active treatment and community placement; and negotiating a model settlement agreement to enable 2,000 nursing home residents with brain injuries to live in community settings with appropriate support. Current projects include litigation to enforce the right of workers with disabilities to engage in integrated, supportive employment instead of being relegated to sheltered workshops; and a school-to-prison pipeline initiative contesting the suspension and expulsion of students with psychiatric disabilities.
For more than 40 years, Nonotuck Resource Associates has been transforming the lives of hundreds of people with disabilities through its innovative personalized services. It was founded in 1972 by parents whose children were placed at the Belchertown State School – parents who wanted their children living in the community. In the spirit of their founding families, Nonotuck established a values-based, more personalized and innovative residential support called “shared living” where a person with a disability and a person without a disability choose to live together. In addition to shared living, Nonotuck offers in-home case management and nursing to help keep families with disabled loved ones together and deter possible institutionalization. Nonotuck currently serves about 700 people with disabilities across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
All adults, including individuals with disabilities, have will and preferences, and therefore have the right to make their own decisions, including life decisions about their health care, their finances, their relationships, where they work, where they travel, who they vote for, and where they live and with whom.
- Individuals with disabilities sometimes need support from people they trust to make decisions.
- The people they trust know their values, their goals, their will and their preferences.
- The people they trust present the pros and cons of a pending issue and help them understand the ramifications of their choices.
- The people they trust help them express their decisions based on their will and preferences.
- The people they trust respect their autonomy, their right to make their own decisions, and their right to have those decisions honored.
- When individuals with disabilities and their supporters create decision-making networks, they are connected to the greater world of commerce, medicine, education, community.
- Through supported decision-making, community leaders, merchants, bankers, doctors, lawyers, teachers and school administrators will learn to understand and respect the capacity of individuals with disabilities and their right to self-determination.
- Supported decision-making maximizes independence and promotes self-advocacy and self-determination for individuals with disabilities. They are agents of their own change.