Concerned Advocates of New England
OUR CORE VALUES
Advocates of New England works to promote awareness and to provide access to non biased information and resources pertaining to the services, laws, policies, and rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families/guardians.
One Size Does Not Fit All.
Individuals with I/DD should have choices.
Individuals with I/DD should live, work, and thrive.
Guardianship and guardians’ rights must be protected and respected.
The Concerned Advocates of New England (formerly, Concerned Citizens for the Mentally Retarded) has been advocating for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) their families, guardians, friends and caretakers for over 50 years.
The organization was co-founded by Charles Hart whose son, Christopher, had severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. Christopher Hart was born in 1963, and it became immediately apparent that he had severe problems. Eventually, Christopher was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus is the buildup of fluid in the cavities (ventricles) deep within the brain. The excess fluid increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid normally flows through the ventricles and bathes the brain and spinal column. For Christopher this condition caused sever brain damage.
Told by doctors that Christopher would not live more than a few years and to send him to a “home for people like him”, Christopher’s parents made the decision to raise Christopher themselves. Intuitively knowing the family would need help caring for Christopher Charles immediately started looking for resources and services for his son.
Around 1968 Charles found a group of parents who were experiencing similar issues, the Hogan Berry Parent’s Association. They met on a regular basis at Hogan Regional Center in Hathorne MA and the John T Berry Center in North Reading, MA. Hogan Regional Center and John T Berry Center were two of eight State Operated Intermediate Care Facilities for the “Mentally Retarded” (ICF/MR). In the late 60’s through the mid 80’s the diagnosis of individuals like Christopher was mental retardation; eventually that diagnosis was changed to intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD).
Over the years the organization advocated for the residents of Hogan Regional and John T Berry Centers on issues such as basic needs and conditions. The organization began to grow and connect with several parent groups throughout the Commonwealth. At that time the Commonwealth had eight (8) ICF/MR facilities(of various sizes), so Hogan Berry Parent’s Association and the combined the organizations had over 5000 members and supporters.
Eventually, the Hogan Berry Parent’s Association changed its name to Concerned Citizens for the Mentally Retarded (CCMR) and expanded its advocacy outreach to include, and represent individuals with IDD that lived in a “new” concept the “Group Home”. Many families and guardians of individuals living in ICF/MR facilities decided to transfer to these community based group homes where between 4-5 individuals would live and be cared for by staff. CCMR also responded to the needs and lack of support for parents and guardians whose children lived at home.
It was becoming increasingly apparent that services resources and advocacy was needed throughout the Commonwealth for individuals with IDD who are our most vulnerable populations. The concept of group homes continued to grow and other organizations/private companies started to build group homes and eventually were awarded contracts as vendors by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to care for individuals with IDD. At the same time the number of residents at the ICF/MR facilities diminished. However, for individuals like Christopher the community group home was never an option then and now if he were still alive.
In 2009 we changed our name to CCMR, Inc. At this time CCMR was also one of over 200 other ICF/MR based parent organizations throughout the United States.
All of these organizations realized several important things:
Services, resources and advocacy was needed throughout the United States for individuals with IDD their parents, guardians and caretakers.
ICF Facilities (Supported by the landmark Supreme Court decision Olmsted v), their residents, parents guardians and caretakers were under attack by other so-called advocacy organizations, States and the Federal Government to close and force individuals into community settings.
CCMR realized one very basic truth, that services and resources cannot be uniform for all individuals with IDD.
With the passing of its Co-Founder Charles Hart in 2016, CCMR continued its advocacy efforts. In 2020 David Hart and CCMR decided to “Re-Organize” the organization and re-named it to Concerned Advocates of New England and expanded its our-reach to all New England states. . The Concerned Advocates of New England is dedicated to advocating for an individual’s right to choose with respect to care and living arrangements and believes in the motto:
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL