These newly formed community-based human services organizations needed to work together to ensure fair funding and legislation that both promoted and protected the right and dignity of the populations they served. In the mid 1970’s, a core group of members founded the Providers’ Council to represent their best interests and provide an exchange of communications, ideas and best practices.
Providers created a forum to gather, learn and celebrate: In 1976, the first Annual Convention of the Providers’ Council filled Hayden Hall at BU. This event now draws more than 1,100 attendees and more than 75 exhibitors annually, making it the largest human services convening in the Northeast. Past keynote speakers have included Gov. Michael Dukakis, Marian Wright Edelman, Les Brown, Patch Adams, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Dick Hoyt and Steve Pemberton.
Providers also sought resources to help them gain access to and group pricing on products like insurance. The Providers’ Council began its Endorsed Business Partner program with Palmer Goodell Insurance (now USI Insurance Services) in 1976 and has since expanded to offer products from Enterprise Fleet Management, Interior Resources and Unemployment Tax Management Corporation.
Providers knew regular communications were key to keeping up to date on the goings on of Beacon Hill and with each other. In 1978, The Provider newspaper published its first issue. The paper now has a combined print and digital circulation of more than 5,000, and it is considered the flagship publication for the industry.
More recently, the Providers’ Council joined with other trade associations in 2008 to advocate for Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2008, a landmark rate-setting law that ensured fair and adequate funding for all human services programs. The law mandated, among other things, that all human services rates must be reviewed every two years to ensure the state is paying for the full cost of providing services to clients and consumers in the Commonwealth.
After nearly 45 years being headquartered in Boston, the Providers’ Council moved to 100 Crossing Blvd. in Framingham in late 2019. The new office — which has plentiful free parking and a state-of-the-art learning center — is more centrally located in Massachusetts to allow the Council to better serve is growing statewide membership.
The Providers’ Council has come to be known as the official voice of the industry and will continue to strive to best represent the needs and concerns of its members.