Case Study: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (MA DDS)
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (MA DDS)
Development of a participant direction pilot program for individuals with developmental disabilities.
While working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Center for Self-Determination, Public Partnerships, LLC (PPL) was tasked to help create the “Owner’s Manual for Self- Determination”. The development of this manual initiated a pilot project – Intermediary Service Organization (ISO) – that began in the metro-Boston region of Massachusetts in 2000. The region had many complex cases that required it to look for an alternative to traditional vendors for services which were not being delivered. The ISO program emphasized local responsibility, offering individuals and DDS service coordinators significant flexibility and responsibility in managing resources.
The PPL Approach:
PPL took a number of steps to launch the pilot program:
- PPL worked with highly motivated and committed service coordinators, who lent their
experience in precisely crafting service models and negotiated rates, which ultimately led to
an overall improved experience for participants.
- PPL developed the Extranet, a budget authorization web-portal which provided service
coordinators with the flexibility to revise budgets to meet the changing needs of participants in
- PPL worked with participants and designated agency staff to determine the nature, extent,
and availability of services and supports sought by the individual and to identify appropriate
choices to meet needs consistent with each participant’s individual support plan and a
- PPL assists in the implementation of participants’ support plans by serving as fiscal
intermediary, providing financial monitoring, billing, payment and reporting, support worker
recruitment and credentialing, quality assurance, information systems development, and
The initial metro-Boston pilot program expanded state-wide in 2003 to serve several hundred participants. Accomplishments from this project include:
- Greater self-determination for individuals with developmental disabilities.
- Development of new support services, customized supports, and innovative approaches to
using community resources.
- More efficient management of public funds and resources.
- Experts suggest that individuals with disability actively manage their spending and are good
stewards of their budgets.