- Parents First Call
- Teens and Adults
- Buddy Walk
- Health Care Professionals
- Accept the Challenge
- Public Policy
- MDSC Cares
- Diversity Outreach and Support
- Down Syndrome-Autism Connection
- Dads Appreciating Down
- Mental Health Support
Our Legislative Accomplishments
The MDSC’s advocacy in the public policy arena has lead to the passing of multiple landmark bills that ensure equal rights, inclusion and support for the Down syndrome community. To learn more about our legislative model, click here.
Governor Charlie Baker Attends Down Syndrome Advocacy Day at the State House for 1st time
In May, we were honored when Governor Chariie Baker was a special guest at our 5th Annual Advocacy Day to accept our Legislative Champion of the Year Award. Through his support and initiatives, people with disabilities in Massachusetts have been afforded real opportunities to work, build savings and have critical protections.
Executive Director Maureen Gallagher Named National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) Ambassador of the Year
At the 2017 Buddy Walk on Washington, Congressman Joe Kennedy III presented
the MDSC's Executive Director Maureen Gallagher with the NDSS Champion of Change Award, honoring her leadership and vision and the MDSC's groundbreaking advocacy efforts.
Congressman Kennedy said it best: "[Maureen] isn't here today because it's her job. She's here today because she believes in the abilities of every single person in this room. She wants to make this nation, this world a little kinder, a little fairer for those with Down syndrome. She's here because this fight matters and we will never again allow people with Down syndrome to be overlooked and forgotten."
Read the coverage by the Boston Globe here.
An Act Concerning Nondiscrimination in Organ Transplantation
On December 2nd, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed the MDSC’s Organ Transplant Bill into law. This priority bill, sponsored by Representative James Cantwell, prevents discrimination against anyone with an intellectual or developmental disability in need of an organ transplant, ensuring that all people with Down syndrome have access to the live-saving treatments they need.
The landmark ABLE Act allows families to save for their loved ones with disabilities without being punished. Since the passing of the act in 2014 (our lobbying led to the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation sponsoring the bill), implementation of the ABLE Act remains a top national priority. In the fall of 2015, the MDSC submitted comments to the federal government advocating for provisions to enhance the flexibility of ABLE accounts for self-advocates and their families. Soon after, the IRS issued interim guidance that will make it easier for state administrators to establish and administer ABLE programs in an expedient and efficient manner.
This spring, the MDSC celebrated the launch of tax-advantaged ABLE accounts for individuals with disabilities in Massachusetts at the State House. Going forward, people with Down syndrome in Massachusetts and the rest of the country will be able to work and save for their future without losing access to important benefits.
See the complete communication about the Massachusetts passage of the ABLE Act from our Executive Director here.
Read the Boston Globe’s coverage of the Massachusetts launch here.
An Act Relative to Real Lives
The Real Lives Bill, sponsored by Representative Tim Sannicandro, streamlines the funding mechanism for people with disabilities receiving state support and allow families greater control and flexibility over their supports.
Read the Boston Globe’s article in support of the Real Lives Bill here.
Learn more about the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services' Self-Determination Advisory Board (SDAB), which executes and reviews progress made on the Real Lives Bill's agenda.
An Act to Require National Background Checks
The National Background Check (NBC) Bill requires employees working with persons served by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to undergo federal criminal background checks in addition to the state checks that are already mandatory.
Read Executive Director Maureen Gallagher’s testimony in support of the NBC Bill here.
See the complete communication about the passage of the Real Lives Bill and the National Background Check Bill from our Executive Director here.
An Act Relative to Down Syndrome Genetic Test Results
This law, sponsored by Representative Tom Sannicandro and Senator Katherine Clark, mandates that new or expectant parents of children with Down syndrome are given the latest, culturally-appropriate information about what it means to have a child with Down syndrome and contact information for services to ensure they have access to the supports that every family in their position needs. The legislation specifically identifies the MDSC's Parents First Call Program as a key resource for these families, formally recognizing our signature outreach program, which is a national model in the field. Given recent scientific developments around prenatal diagnosis, it was critical to get a bill like this on the books.
See the complete communication about the passage of the Prenatal Bill from our Executive Director here.
The MDSC is honored with the National Down Syndrome Society's Advocacy Organization of the Year Award.