Learningand Advocatingat Berkshire Arc

April 24, 2019

Berkshire Arc team at State House

Schuyler Robinson '20 (second from right) interns at Berkshire County Arc and visited the Massachusetts State House in April to advocate for full state funding for family home care. (Photo courtesy Berkshire Arc Facebook page)

On his way to becoming an occupational therapist, Schuyler Robinson ’19 of North Adams has been interning at Berkshire Arc, and recently traveled to Boston as part of 2019 Adult Family Care State Awareness Day, an opportunity to meet lawmakers and other supporters and advocate for full state funding for family home care.

This type of State House visit is common as the Commonwealth prepares its budget. “It gives (lawmakers) a visceral look,” Robinson said. “Once you communicate with them, our representatives will realize that adult foster care helps a lot of people.”

Among the advocates in Robinson’s group were people with developmental disabilities who benefit from family home care, which grants support funds to the families of those who need assistance, allowing those individuals to remain in their homes rather than living in assisted care institutions. 

“I definitely think they are hearing the concerns because of how much it can save in state funding,” Robinson said. ““It can cost the state more than $300 a day to stay in a nursing home; it costs $47.74-$82.06 per day depending on a member’s level of care for MassHealth’s Adult Foster Care. It’s a big difference and the quality of life is completely different. You’re in your own home, getting taken care of by a loved one or a caregiver you know.”

Robinson’s group met up with other Arc agencies from across the state before visiting the offices of Berkshire representatives. “This program is really helping individuals,” he said, mentioning job programs that connect differently abled people to jobs in their communities (one person supported by the Berkshire Arc team has in fact worked at Greylock Federal Credit Union for 17 years).

While he did meet with State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, most of the lawmakers on the Berkshire Arc’s list were out in their districts or otherwise indisposed. “We did have some good conversations with their assistants,” Robinson said. 

Aside from this advocacy trip, Robinson is learning a lot about health care systems and processes. After graduation, he plans to take advantage of one of MCLA’s articulation agreements with Russell Sage or Western New England college, which allow MCLA grads to seamlessly enter their respective occupational therapy programs.

“I have always been interested in people that have developmental disabilities, and seeing how they receive access to care,” Robinson said. “They seem to have always been pushed away from society. At Arc, we are giving them access to a lot of different services, and giving people the full experience they should have as human beings, that they maybe didn’t have before.”