BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Maura Sullivan, senior director of Government Affairs and Health Policy at The Arc of Massachusetts, advocates for legislation aimed at protecting those with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) including autism.
Sullivan helps to empower individuals and their families to navigate Beacon Hill to tell their personal stories, connect with their lawmakers, and testify for important legislation.
“Our work and our ability to empower our community and to reach a broad array of stakeholders is really the best way we get to success,” Sullivan said.
Every session, Sullivan and The Arc of Massachusetts have around 20 to 25 bills that they work to pass.
“We can tell the legislature that the graduating class of individuals with disabilities doubled over the last 10 years. But then we need to have the stories of those who need those supports as adults, and what that would mean to them, what life would look like without those supports,” she said.
Sullivan said one of the monumental pieces of legislation that she has worked on with The Arc was Dana’s/Nicky’s Law, which former Gov. Charlie Baker signed in 2020. It created a new abuse registry of caregivers in Massachusetts.
Before the registry, caregivers who had histories of substantiated abuse but were not criminally charged “could go on and work at another organization,” Sullivan said.
“As we started to work on this legislation, we met hundreds of families who had stories. I don’t think the public had any idea what was going on,” she said. “It’s working. There are over 40 individuals now on the registry.”
The Arc of Massachusetts is celebrating its 70th year with a gala on Nov. 9, 2023. The non-profit is dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Click here to learn how to donate.
WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports: