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Life Focus Center to Shut Down in June

Department of Developmental Services cuts off the center's funding.

Life Focus Center called us minutes ago with this news. Here is the Center's statement, unedited.

Life Focus Center of Charlestown has received a contract termination notice from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) for all programs we provide, with an effective date of June 16, 2012. We are both surprised and severely disappointed that DDS abruptly ceased working with us after months of hard work trying to upgrade our management systems and comply with the State Auditor’s report. It is even more surprising given the agency’s most recent comprehensive evaluations of LFC, done by the Office of Quality Management/Office of Quality Enhancement (QUEST) in 2008 and 2010, gave LFC the highest level assessment and the longest license and certification renewals available.

Life Focus Center provides a unique spectrum of care for approximately 140 people with developmental disabilities, many of them who have spent their entire adult lives at LFC and who have profound disabilities. We will spend the next sixty days as we have spent the last thirty-three years: wholly focused on their care and improving the quality of their lives. We will work closely with DDS during this transition to ensure that these unique programs are preserved for the people who need them.

~ Larry Rasky, spokesman

Donna O'Brien April 18, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Why would you try and build your argument on the backs of LFC consumers? Your argument is just a smoke screen to try and divert other readers from the factual information Mr. Murphy is calling to our intention. I would say that a good use of one's time is gathering the facts, as they are stated in the document, weighing the facts and making an informed decision. That's what smart people do. Try it; you may like it.
Joseph April 18, 2012 at 03:22 PM
How the Board is able to justify these expenditures defending the actions of one is mind boggling.
Disgusted April 18, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Every single person who is related to the Millerick should be fired...and the organization should be held accountable. This includes the Board of Directors who must not understand their role. The Board of Directors is as responsible for this outrageous misuse of funds as the MIllericks Family and Friends Plan. The husband, wife, daughter, sons, son-in-law, daughter's college friend, secretary and her husband...the list goes on and on. And I will bet that not a one of them has ever stepped foot in the building or knows the names of the clients they are "supporting". I would love a 25 hour work from home gig as a Grant Writer. For $183,000 over three years, I'll bet I could have done better than $6000 in Grants.
Noreen Manning April 18, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Bottom line - we need to find a way to stop this action by the State! Let's get rallied, Charlestown... Sal LaMattina, 617-635-4000 Gene O'Flaherty, 617-722-2396 Sal DeDominico, 617-722-1650 Danielle Fitzgerald (Mayor's Liaison to CT), 617-635-3549 Governor Patrick - 617-722-2350 Unbelievable! The program participants suffer - and NOT the bad guys! What about the other employees? Shame, shame, shame.
Noreen Manning April 18, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Just to be clear, I mean the employees who didn't steal and commit fraud. You know, the good guys.
Kasey Hariman April 18, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I'm not sure who you're referring to as tabloid media (surely not Charlestown Patch...) but anyone who works at the Life Focus Center is welcome to contact us directly with their perspective, as well as the caregivers and family members of those who receive or have received services there. Patch definitely wants to hear as many sides of the story as possible. You can email the editor, Matt Casey, directly at mattc@patch.com, or call him at 781-715-3584 with your stories, opinions, and perspectives. Commenting here is great, as well, though we can't verify your identity as a worker or family member via our comments section.
KDCC April 18, 2012 at 06:31 PM
@Joseph. Sorry to disappoint you but no, I am not Jack Millerick. I am, however, a very concerned family member of a LFC client who is fearful that people are going to get so wrapped up in their anger directed at mistakes of the past that they aren't giving anyone the time or opportunity it takes to create a solution that will benefit LFC and the clients in the most positive way. I'm not making excuses for what has been done, I'm just asking that people stop and think before they spew hateful comments about people and situations when they do not have all of the facts. Reading an article in the Herald and taking it at face value does not make anyone an expert on this topic. Its a waste of my time and effort to get caught up in the back and forth of this argument so I will end with my original comment which is that it is crucial that people focus on WHO are the actual victims of this situation...the clients of LFC and their families if DDS pulls their funding and the center is forced to close. For those of you who don't have a family member at LFC or know the community closely, I can honestly say wholeheartedly that this center, including Jack and his family members, has been a pillar of stability and support for my family and created an environment in which my aunt has been able to feel confident, have a sense of self worth, and build true friendships. The REAL crime would be to take that away from her and so many others.
JMH April 18, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Shouldn't there be legal action here? I mean, it is alleged that a million tax payer's dollars went into director's pockets at LFC.
Donna O'Brien April 18, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Noreen, would you be willing to post this on your FB page and we'll see if we can go viral. Gene has been very helpful with this. I'm with you!
Joseph April 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM
KDCC - I'm on your side with keeping LFC. What I will disagree with is your support of this disgrace of a human being Jack Millerick. It seems as if you're OK with the fact that Jack is a thief due to the positive affect the LFC had with your aunt? Just think of how much better off everyone at the LFC would be with all the funds that Jack stole from them? I'll assume that you're still in shock that someone you trusted just ruined the lives of so many. I can understand and sympathize with you, but you need to open your eyes and see the truth. Stop reading The Herald and read the link John posted. Those are facts. Here it is again: http://www.mass.gov/sao/Audit%20Reports/2012/201145473c.pdf.
Outraged April 18, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Taxpayer money!!! They should be shut down until the problem is fixed. No program, no matter how valuable theiy are should get away with this loss of the people's money. Grand theft...payback and jail with no future social security checks for that family.
Dominic April 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Wow my heart breaks for all these clients at Lfc. Jack millerick has worked with my family for years with our children and i am honored to call him my friend . I am a licensed CPA and have conducted numerous audits. This Lfc audit is so small and it amazes me that someone is determined to go after jack with this one. Remember what goes around comes around and when the dust settles the truth will come out. I am heartbroken for all the wonderful employees including every single millerick cause in the end those clients will be lost without jack his family and all the wonderful employees at Lfc. I truly hope whoever is behind this comes forward and admits it was a mistake to cause all of this mess because of anger. Anger is such a wasted emotion and will get you know where keep fighting Lfc and jack millerick
Judy Cleveland-Young April 19, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Inspirational why is it no matter what any one says you slam them. If they check the facts the auditors are putting out you accuse them of being some ones ex or out to do some one in. If they read the Herald the're not to bright. Why are you defending people who have robbed a great program of money and now because of these people the program is going down the drain. It makes me angry because I've donated money to the program in good faith that the people would be taken care of and the head of the program wouldn't be using donations to fund his family trips or subsidize his income. Are you a member of the family?? Maybe thats it, your upset because your freebies are going down the drain with the program. You should get a life and be more concerned about what was taken from the innocent people who are affected by this abuse.
Dirk Diddler April 19, 2012 at 03:39 AM
With all due respect, the board of directors should have demanded his resignation when the improprieties were disclosed by the state. Not have given him a raise, not have hired a PR firm but taken clear decisive action. The best interests of the board were the clients of LFC, not Millerick, his family or his staff who defrauded the tax payers.. I would suggest that the board members should as they say lawyer up. Heep o big trouble come down the tracks for them...
linderluu April 19, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I totally agree. The state is re-victimizing the clients who were victimized by the Director in lining his pockets at their expense. Closing the center is not the answer. How are you going to tell the clients who benefit greatly that, rather than correct the situation (fire the director) and instill accounting safegards to ensure this does not happen in the future, the state chose to withdraw funding? The clients receive invaluable services: self-esteem, team building, and a sense of worth and purpose at Life Focus.
question2 April 19, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I have read the report. There seems to be somethings that could be questioned, and some things that are questioned because guidelines were not written out. I think it is odd that you may use a vehicle for instance, but you have to have the guidelines in writing. So, since the guidelines are not in writing the use is not allowed. Do the city, state, police,school etc... all have guidelines in writing about their take home cars? So, it is not the use that is in question, it is the paperwork was not in place. Same with those that worked on the maintenance, it seemed that nobody questions their work or wether it was completed, more that the proper documents were not in place. Again, it seems if you read the report, which is boring at best, the major concern was not where the money went, but rather the lack of paperwork. The fact that one state agency knew that the center was buying a wheelchair van and smart tables for the facility, should not be another questionable expense. I wonder if any state agency could hold up under this kind of scrutiny. For the sake of all involved and those who are familiar with the program know, this facility does great work for their clients.
Donna O'Brien April 19, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Thanks to Rep. Eugene O'Flaherty for continuing to take the lead on keeping the Life Focus Center opened and in Charlestown. Mr. O'Flaherty is meeting with DDS and has asked to meet with LFC families/loved ones as soon as possible.
Shelagh R. April 19, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Wow really? As an LFC family member I would have loved to hear from him throughout this entire tragic affair. He was one of the first to disappear the second this hit the Herald along with all the other politicians who made sure to use Life Focus in their campaign speeches and the last to provide any real help when the agency needed them. Instead, all the families get to hear is differing stories from DDS service coordinators who clearly don't have a clue what is going on or why this life changing program is being shut down. I'd love to have a conversation with Mr. O'Flaherty about how Life Focus has changed me and my child's life and what he's been doing to support the program behind the scenes that clearly none of us know about. I don't recall seeing you or ever hearing your name before so its not hard to assume you're not a parent or loved one and are clueless about any of the facts - and by FACTS I do not mean what the Herald and Patch "report" or what the commenters state they "heard" on the street. As question2 stated this was obviously a documentation issue and not a services issue, which is my top priority as a parent. I keep praying for a miracle because I do not know what my family will do without this amazing program and its incredible staff in our lives.
Mike C April 20, 2012 at 06:48 PM
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20220420state_nixes_life_focus_project/ Too bad Charlestown could have used some more affordable housing... Curious how many other enterprises Millerick et al had going too...
Donna O'Brien April 20, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Miss R. I have a very dear friend who is a consumer. Like you, my friend's family is suffering the horror you are facing with your child, as are all the other clients' families and loved ones. As a retired Boston teacher of kids with disabilities, and a parent, I offered to help. That's my only agenda: to help my friends and, if I can, help some of the consumers as well. I contacted Rep. O'Flaherty when the rumblings started about the LFC closing to voice my concern and ask for some help for my friends. He was already all over it and quietly working with the Auditor, DDS and the AG's office. Indeed, he has offered to meet with parents as soon as the meeting with the Executive Director and DDS occurs on Monday @2 at the LFC. I'd also like to say that my friend/consumer lives outside of the district; so, this is far from political posturing on his part. Indeed, I took the time to download and read the report in its entirety and I would like to agree to disagree on the 'facts'. However, you, my consumer friend's family and Rep. O'Flaherty agree on one thing. We are committed to the consumers and keeping the LFC in Charlestown: period. My mother told me many years ago: "Don't always believe what you read in the paper". She was pretty smart, don't you think?
Mike C April 20, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I nominate Donna O'Brien as the next executive director.
Donna O'Brien April 21, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Mike: only if you are my wingman!
Mike C April 21, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Donna: if not executive director you should be a paid patcher, love reading your articulate and always right on posts!
Cuz April 21, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I no longer live in Charlestown and don't know the people involved wtih LFC but have worked "in the field" for some time. Regardless of what happens to management the people this agency serves cannot be punished for someone else's crime and that's what closing this center would do. Changing to another program would not be just a hardship. It's not an exageration to say for some it would reverse years of progress and be a loss that would take years to recover from. (if they are even able to). If a lack of oversight caused this to happen then anyone connected with the oversight should go. Someone else take over handling the money and let the direct care staff continue on with their work. Maybe some good can come from this and the staff who are typically under valued can make a better living. I don't know the details for LFC but at most agencies the direct care staff are the most underpaid in the agency. They will be the first to say they don't do it for the money but maybe after the financials are taken care of the staff and the consumers will have everything they need. This whole thing is very sad though - I always looked at LFC as one of the good guys. (but I have only interacted with the great caregivers so I guess I'm still right. I only hope they can keep their heads up and keep their consumers from feeling all the stress this must be bringing. Good luck!)
Donna O'Brien April 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM
The LFC asked that the meeting be rescheduled for today. Stay tuned!
Matt M. Casey (Editor) April 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
We asked about today's meeting and received only this response: "Life Focus Center and its leadership have committed to fulfilling DDS’s request that they work with them to assure a smooth transition for the care of Life Focus Center’s consumers. They have similarly assured the families of consumers that they will focus on their transition. That is the focus of all meetings and activity between now and mid-June."
Donna O'Brien April 26, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I was honored to accompany my dear friends/consumer's parents to the meeting last night. In summary, DDS will do everything in it's power to keep all services to consumers as they are, just under a new provider. He will set up individual meetings for families with the new service provider, too My friends were very satisfied with the outcome for their daughter; There will be increased communication among parents and DDS as the transition begins and beyond. I was very impressed with the DDS staff and their passion for making this right for the consumers and their families. Timmino urged parents/loved ones to put good pressure on their beloved staff to apply for their positions with the new provider since they truly are the people who make this program like a family. Of course, the LFC administration and acting Board Chair were arrogant and argumentative. Seems they didn't read the memo: meeting for PARENTS! Hello: not a meeting for you to defend inexcusable behavior. One Kool Aid drinker tried to tell me the report was full of lies about the expenses. Right. One family shared the story of the wedding extravaganza for the Executive Director's daughter held at the Zelma Lacy. Thus the need for the $30,000 raise, I was told. Maybe the Knights was booked? Oh, and for you Gene O'Flaherty naysayers: Gene had Alexis Tkachuk at the meeting with the State. He's the only one who spoke up. Remember that election day, kids!
Joseph April 26, 2012 at 06:21 PM
What an outrage! How many of these people are on the take?! Why aren't more people upset with this? Why isn't the press picking this up? Get them involved!!! Johanna Kaiser - Boston Globe - Our Town: johanna.yourtown@gmail.com WCVB - Investigative Unit - http://www.thebostonchannel.com/station/6283744/detail.html WHDH - Tell Hank - tellhank@whdh.com WBZ - I-Team - http://boston.cbslocal.com/show/i-team/ Sal LaMattina, 617-635-4000 Gene O'Flaherty, 617-722-2396 Sal DeDominico, 617-722-1650 Danielle Fitzgerald (Mayor's Liaison to CT), 617-635-3549 Governor Patrick - 617-722-2350
Dirk Diddler April 26, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Wow, these stories get better and better. A wedding reception at the Zelma Lacey House for his daughter? Perhaps the good Monsignor was right, the state should look back 5 years or more. Unbleveable!
Dirk Diddler April 27, 2012 at 03:03 AM
New Slogan for LFC Life Focus Center Motto is "People helping People" Should be changed to "Millericks helping Millericks"

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