In January 2019, a bill to establish supported decision-making in Massachusetts was introduced by Senator Joan Lovely, Representative Aaron Vega, and Representative Paul Tucker in the Massachusetts legislature.
Center for Public Representation has been pleased to lead a broad coalition of advocacy groups called the Massachusetts Advocates for Supported Decision-Making (MASDM) to champion this important legislation that would establish supported decision-making in Massachusetts law.
Links to the bills are available here:
Our Fact Sheet contains an overview of what the bill would do.
The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities held a hearing on the bill on June 25, 2019.
Supported decision-making (SDM) offers a way for adults with disabilities and elders to maintain their rights, dignity, and independence by choosing one or more trusted supporters to provide them with assistance in making decisions about their lives. CPR has piloted SDM across the state and seen the ways this model can transform lives.
Too many people are unnecessarily placed under restrictive guardianships when they could make their own decisions with individualized assistance from people they trust. This bill would pave the way for many more individuals to use SDM in Massachusetts.
The bill would establish a legal framework for supported decision-making in the state.
The bill would allow people with disabilities and elders to enter into SDM agreements with the people they trust who can help them make decisions for themselves. The bill also contains safeguards against abuse. If passed, the bill would require that courts consider SDM before establishing guardianship. Finally, the bill would ensure all youth turning 18 who are at risk of being placed under guardianship are made aware of the SDM option at Individualized Educational Plan meetings.
Supported decision-making does not replace guardianship. It is an additional and less restrictive option.
Center for Public Representation commends Senator Lovely, Representative Vega, and Representative Tucker for introducing this important legislation that will create a much needed new path toward independence for many residents of the Commonwealth.
Members of the Massachusetts Advocates for Supported Decision-Making Coalition include:
- Advocates, Inc.
- The Arc of Massachusetts
- Boston Center for Independent Living
- Center for Public Representation
- Disability Law Center of Massachusetts
- Greater Boston Legal Services
- Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong
- Massachusetts Association for Mental Health
- Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council
- Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change
- Massachusetts Guardianship Policy Institute
- Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee
- North Shore Elder Services
- Northeast Justice Center