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DDS online licensure data remains out of date

We’ve raised a number of questions over the past year about the thoroughness and effectiveness of the state’s policies and procedures for inspecting and licensing group homes for people with intellectual disabilities. (See here and here.)

Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in persuading the Legislature’s Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities Committee to hold a hearing on the issues we raised. 

But in response to our concerns, the Department of Developmental Services did indicate it was making efforts to update group home licensure reports on its website that we found were sometimes years out of date. 

These licensure reports provide both information about the results of inspections of the vendors’ group homes and the type and duration of the license or licenses each vendor has been granted.  The licenses are normally granted for two-year periods, so any such licensure reports that are more than two years old are, by definition, out of date.

In May of this year, DDS Commissioner Elin Howe stated in a letter to Representative Kay Khan, co-chair of the Children and Families Committee, that in addition to updating the licensure reports on the DDS website, licensure follow-up reports were being posted as of that time showing the outcomes of deficiency findings in the original reports.

As a result of these assurances from DDS, we went back and took another look this week at the online DDS licensure data for the same sample of 30 group home vendors that we first examined more than a year ago. 

Based on the follow-up we’ve just done, it appears that DDS has taken some steps to update the licensure information on its website; however, much of the information still appears to remain out of date.   Of the same 30 providers, licensure reports for 11 were still out of date as of this week, and one report (for the Merrimack Education Center) was no longer posted.  That’s now 40 percent of the sample with out of date or missing reports. 

Also, the promised follow-up licensure reports or updates were posted for only eight of the 30 vendors in the sample.  (See table below with the latest results of our review of the DDS online licensure reports for our vendor sample.)  No follow-up reports were posted for any of the 44 vendors listed on the website in the Metro Boston area.

In addition,  the licensure reports posted on the DDS website for Behavioral Associates of Massachusetts (BAM) and the Center for Human Development (CHD) —  two vendors that we selected for review — remained out of date this week, and no follow-up reports or updates were posted for either vendor.  The BAM licensure report was dated April 2009 and the CHD report was dated November 2010.

We had reported in our April 2012 newsletter that DDS didn’t appear to have followed up on numerous deficiencies noted in the BAM and CHD licensure reports.    As we noted in the newsletter article, a subsequent licensure report for BAM, dated May 2010, addressed some, but not all, of the licensing deficiencies identified in the previous April 2009 report.

Yet, that same April 2009 document was still the only licensure report for BAM that was posted on the DDS site as of this week.  We had received the subsequent May 2010 licensure report from DDS in February of this year in response to a Public Records request.  By the way, even that May 2010 report would have been out of date by now had it been posted on the DDS site.

Similarly, the November 2010 licensure report for CHD is now out of date because the two-year license for the vendor was listed in that report as valid through October 2012.

As we reported in the same April 2012 newsletter article, the November 2010 CHD report had cited the vendor for failing to report three incidents of abuse or neglect to the state Disabled Persons Protection Commission.  In response to our same Public Records request, we received a follow-up report on CHD, dated December 2010, in February.  Yet, as of this week, that December 2010 follow-up report had not been posted on the DDS site.

We sent an email message to DDS Commissioner Howe asking why it is taking so long to replace out-of-date licensure reports on the DDS website and why so few follow-up reports appear to have been posted.  We cc’d Rep. Khan’s general counsel on the message.  So far, we haven’t heard back from either Howe’s or Khan’s offices.

Results of COFAR review of DDS online group home licensure reports as of the week of November 5, 2012

DDS Vendor Date of licensure report posted online Status of posted report Follow-up reports or updates posted
Central-West Region      
Aditus, Inc. July 2011 Current None
Behaviorial Health Network, Inc. October 2011 Current None
Center for Human Development, Inc. November 2010 Out of date None 
Evergreen Center, Inc. May 2010 Out of date None
Independent Living for Adults with Special Needs, Inc. September 2010 Out of date None
Mass Mentor January 2012 Current None
Nonotuck Resource Associates, Inc. April 2012 Current May 2012
New England Center for Children, Inc. March 2011 Current None
Seven Hills Foundation, Inc. October 2011 Current November 2011
Western Mass. Training Consortium, Inc. May 2010 Out of date None
Northeast Region      
American Training, Inc. December 2009 Out of date November 2011
Central Middlesex Arc, Inc. September 2008 Out of date None
Fidelity House, Inc. April 2012 Current July 2012
Merrimack Education Center No report posted  Unknown August 2011
Minuteman Arc for Human Services, Inc. July 2008 Out of date None
Project Cope, Inc. June 2011 Current August 2011
Southeast Region      
Arc of Cape Cod, Inc. March 2011 Current None
Behavioral Associates of Mass., Inc. April 2009 Out of date None
Cardinal Cushing Centers, Inc. May 2012 Current None
Cerebral Palsy of Mass., Inc. June 2011 Current September 2011
Kennedy Donovan Center, Inc. October 2010 Out of date November 2010, August 2011
Road to Responsibility, Inc. June 2008 Out of date None
Work, Inc. November 2007 Out of date None
Metro Boston Region      
Charles River Arc, Inc. May 2011 Current None
Delta Projects, Inc. August 2011 Current None
Justice Resource Institute, Inc. August 2011 Current None
North Suffolk MHA, Inc. April 2011 Current None
Till, Inc. August  2011 Current None
Vinfen, Inc. December 2010 Out of date as of Nov. 8, 2012 None
Walnut Street Center, Inc. May 2012 Current None
  1. Anonymous
    November 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks for alerting the community to this valuable work. It is deeply concerning. I did notice that Work, Community, Independence, Inc. (WCI – 135 Beaver St., Waltham, MA 02452. 781.899.8220) is not listed.They have close to 50 group homes. Are they not subject to licensure?


    • November 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Thanks to the power of the Internet, I Googled WCI and saw that it was founded as the Waltham Committee for Community Residences, Inc. It’s listed on the DDS website as The Waltham Committee, although the licensure report does refer to it as WCI or Work, Community, Independence, Inc.

      WCI’s licensure report on the DDS site is dated January 2012, so it’s current, although there are no posted follow-up reports to the January report. That report noted some deficiencies involving the use of restraints, documentation of expenditures, and some other issues. There was not much detail in the licensure report, however, which is a problem we’ve pointed out with these licensure reports in general.


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