Fostering Social Inclusion and Community Engagement


The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has undertaken a series of efforts to encourage friendships and community inclusion among the people they support.  Regulations, policies and practices may be obstacles to promoting social integration and the kind of relationships that DDS would hope to see as a part of people’s everyday lives.  Better understanding of people’s experiences with making friends, having relationships, being involved in the community, identifying what is working well, and what may get in the way, is paramount to crafting a social inclusion policy.

Focus Groups

CDDER investigated, through a series of focus groups and interviews, the barriers to and successes of social inclusion policies and practices in the community.  Focus groups and interviews held across the state included self advocates, families, direct support professionals, group home managers, participants in Creating our Common Wealth, DDS service coordinators, DDS Human Rights Staff, DDS Quality management staff, and DDS area directors.  Results and recommendations for improving a person’s involvement with their friends and neighbors are included in the white paper.


White Paper overview of findings and recommendations (PDF)

White Paper Plain Language Executive Summary (PDF)

DDS Social Inclusion Position Paper (PDF)

DDS Social Inclusion Position Paper Plain Language Summary (PDF)

Bulletins to Address Perceived Barriers to Social Inclusion

In an effort to promote integration and inclusion in community activities, individuals with I/DD should be encouraged and supported to be involved in a variety of activities in the community. During the focus groups concern was raised on a series of barriers that may interfere with community outings and natural interactions. Some of these include: when, and for whom, is a background check needed, the necessity of administering medications at a certain time, how social inclusion will be measured in the licensure and certification process, and how to use the Individual Service Plan (ISP) to improve inclusion. The following bulletins were written to address these perceived barriers.

Criminal Background Checks – When and For whom are they Required? (PDF)

Administering Medications – Options for Facilitating Social Inclusion (PDF)

Licensure and Certification Process- How it Supports Social Inclusion Initiative (PDF)

How to use the ISP to Promote Social Inclusion and Friendships (PDF)


In this informative webinar series, Tom Doody offers his expertise and experience from thirty years of involvement as a North Quabbin Citizen Advocacy match maker, helping facilitate friendships between people with disabilities and members of the community. The series also features people who are friends candidly describing the impact Citizen Advocacy has on them.

Strategies for Connecting People With & Without Disabilities

Being together at the same time and in the same place with others who share your interests is not a guarantee that friendships will blossom. But this connection is an essential ingredient! There are many possible ways for people to connect (or re-connect) with each other. This document outlines some of the ways you may be able to use in your professional (and personal) lives to help people with and without disabilities benefit from getting to know each other.

Four Stories

These vignettes present examples of social inclusion and community involvement for a person with an intellectual or developmental disability. These real-life stories offer a reflection on social inclusion, lessons learned, and unique ways of involving a person with a disability into the community.