Multicultural Services of Pioneer Valley, Inc

Family Support

For more than 40 years, Multicultural Community Services of the Pioneer Valley, Inc. (MCS) has been an innovator in the provision of Family Support services and continues to be a statewide leader in the delivery of these services. MCS is primarily funded by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS), and currently serves more than 3000 individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism throughout western Massachusetts

As our name implies, MCS is committed to providing responsive support to individuals from diverse cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. Our Family Support services are crafted with the firm belief that individuals with disabilities are best supported by being home with their families. We consider families to be the experts in caring for their family member with a disability, and we endeavor to work alongside individuals with disabilities and their families to create and ensure a quality of life filled with happiness and opportunity – an enviable life!

Family Support Centers

We are pleased to host three Family Support Centers, which are the hub of our Family Support services. All three centers are conveniently located and completely accessible, and they strive to be an important part of the local community. We are staffed with a professional and dedicated team who are ready to assist you in meeting the needs of your family member with a disability. We welcome you to reach out to us by phone (or email) and we encourage you to come visit us at a Family Support Center.

Each Family Support Center has a Family Advisory Council. As we previously stated, individuals with disabilities and families should be the ultimate decision-makers in all areas of supports and services that are appropriate for their family. By joining a Family Advisory Council, you can directly provide input, ideas, and feedback on the supports and services that MCS offers.

Parent training—both virtually and in-person—is offered on a wide variety of topics and concerns for families. The ideas for many of these workshops are generated by family members and we seek to respond when a common theme or topic emerges. In partnership with Mass Families, we offer a yearly Family Leadership Series that provides individuals and families with the vision, knowledge, and leadership skills they need to live in their communities as naturally and typically as desired.

Center-sponsored activities are an important part of the services we provide. Some past activities have included dances, holiday parties, “Trunk or Treat”, Backpack Giveaway, semi-formal and themed dinner dances, Thanksgiving Basket raffles, MCS Family Jamboree and more. Our very creative staff are always coming up with ideas for new activities, and they’re open to any suggestions for future events.

You can find many specialized groups at our Family Support Centers, such as the Grandparents Group, the Preschool Playgroup, Padres Unidos En Accion and others.

The MCS Family Support Centers are staffed with dozens of compassionate and committed professionals who are ready to support families in whatever way necessary. Service Navigators assist individuals with disabilities and their families in accessing supports, and services, with navigating the service system and by facilitating opportunities that will enhance their lives.  Services are provided in a manner consistent with the DDS Family Support Guidelines and the MCS Mission Statement. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Assist families to access public benefits (e.g. housing, Social Security, fuel assistance, SNAP, health insurance, etc.)
  • Assist families to access general local, state and/or federal resources (e.g. food pantries, immigration services, home modification programs, medical equipment, healthcare providers, MRC, employment centers, senior services, homecare services, local charitable organizations, etc.)
  • Identify and coordinate access to:
    • clinical and behavioral supports
    • inclusive and recreational activities
    • transportation
    • skills training
  • Provide information and training opportunities to families
  • Provide or facilitate access to translation and interpretation services
  • Provide access to resources focusing on future planning and emergency preparedness
  • Respond to emergency situations and/or urgent needs
  • Maintain a flexible, yet reasonable, work schedule to meet the needs of families
    • Attend IEPs/ISPs contingent on individual circumstances
    • Accompany to medical appointments, as necessary and appropriate
  • Complete Family Support Plans and Stipend Expenditure Plans within required timelines

Service Navigators come with a willing spirit, provide a listening ear and help to solve problems. They are your partner and ally as you interact with the complicated and sometimes overwhelming service system!

Caring for a loved one with a disability is a continuous responsibility that often leaves a caretaker in need of a break. Understanding that each family and individual is unique, respite can come in many forms and options:

  • 1:1 Respite: MCS has a small pool of direct care staff that can work with your family member
  • Family Identified Respite: sometimes families are more comfortable having people that they know provide respite for their family member. MCS can coordinate with providing a stipend to those individuals that they have identified to work with their family member
  • Planned Facility-Based Respite: with a referral from a DDS Service Coordinator, weekend respite is offered at our accessible house in Westfield. Guests can check-in on a Friday night and check-out late Sunday afternoon after a fun-filled two days of good company, good food and good fun!
  • Group Respite: this has proven to be one of the most creative and most desired respite options provided through MCS. A broad range of opportunities are offered throughout the year with activities designed to appeal to people with varied interests and skills. Participants are instrumental in the selection and planning of activities.

Oftentimes valuable support to families can be in the form of financial assistance. This assistance must be related to the individual’s disabilities. Service Navigators meet with families to discuss their needs, and stipends can be provided within the limits of available funding. All expenditures are required to comply with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS) Family Support Guidelines.

The primary goal of Intensive Flexible Family Support programs is to help families with one or more members with a disability who are experiencing significant challenges that are causing the child/individual to be at risk of out-of-home placement. This is a time-limited (6 to 12 months) and goal-oriented service providing more focused and intensive supports in response to identified areas of need and difficulty, and to build family capacity to support their child at home. The individual must be between 3 and 22 years of age and living in the family home.

IFFS Programs

provide the following enhanced and specialized services using a family-centered approach:

  • Complete written assessments of the individual and/or family to identify needs and strengths and establish written agreed upon goals and objectives
  • Development of a family support plan which outlines specific goals, objectives, timelines, and responsible parties
  • Actively engage families and provide intensive staff assistance and supports to address identified needs and work on established goals and objectives to enable the individual to remain at home. This will include discussion with the families regarding potential services, counseling, medical or other generic and community resources that will support the child remaining at home and assist them to navigate the service system
  • Assist the family in the coordination of services that may include medical services, therapies, behavior training, educational services, etc.
  • Education, training, and referral for parents/caregivers in how to better care for their family members and enhance their capacity to meet the individual’s physical, behavioral, medical, and emotional needs
  • Provide monthly written progress notes addressing both the written and agreed upon
  • Provide administration of a pool of flexible funding that may be available to address the extraordinary support needs of families, on a one-time basis, who are receiving services in this Program

Our Family Support Centers are located at: