In February 2023, bills to establish a legal framework for Supported Decision-Making in Massachusetts were reintroduced in the Massachusetts legislature.
- THANK YOU to Senator Joan Lovely and Representatives Michael Finn and Sean Garballey for your leadership in introducing these critical bills.
This MASDM Fact Sheet describes more about what the bills would do.
- 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 Massachusetts 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 older adults 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 and Representatives Finn and Garballey for introducing this important legislation that will create a much-needed path toward independence for many residents of the Commonwealth.
Center for Public Representation has been pleased to be a part of a broad coalition of advocacy groups called the Massachusetts Advocates for Supported Decision-Making (MASDM) to champion this important legislation.
- The Senate Bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. The House Bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
- A hearing was held on the Senate Bill on September 18, 2023. MASDM members testified in strong support of the bills. You can learn more about some of their testimony here.
- SDM legislation was also introduced in two previous legislative sessions. In the 191st session (2019-2020), the bill was favorably reported out of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and had promising momentum before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 192nd session (2021-2022), the bill passed the Senate. Help us get this bill across the finish line this session!
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
- MassFamilies (formerly Mass Families Organizing for Change)
- Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong
- Massachusetts Association for Mental Health
- Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council
- Massachusetts Guardianship Policy Institute
- Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee
- North Shore Elder Services
- Northeast Justice Center
Head here to learn more about the testimony SDM pilot participants and members of the MASDM gave at the September 2023 hearing on this SDM legislation. You can also see more videos and testimony about the 2019 legislation here and the 2021 legislation here.