Originally incorporated in 1961, the organization was first known as the Wrentham Research Foundation. Located on the grounds of the Wrentham Developmental Center, its primary mission was to conduct research in the field of mental retardation. Studies included prevention, treatment, best practices and staff training. With the enactment of Chapter 766, special education services became its primary focus. The agency assisted public schools to develop appropriate programs and also directly provide services to children with significant challenges on the grounds of the institution.
In 1982, the agency relocated to Franklin, MA and was renamed Horace Mann Educational Associates (HMEA) after the renowned educator who was born in Franklin. “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity” was a phrase of Horace Mann and our Board President felt it was especially appropriate for a non-profit organization.
As people began to move from institutions because of the legislation of the Consent Decree, HMEA responded by opening its first community-based Day Services location in Attleboro and its first two residential homes in Mansfield and Attleboro in 1982. Today, over 550 people receive Employment, Day Habilitation and Residential Services.
In 1996, the agency began to work with children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, primarily with a diagnosis of autism, in their homes and at school, through the collaborative Department of Developmental Services/ Department of Education Project.
1997 also saw the establishment of a Children’s Services Division, which provides consultation and comprehensive support services for children as young as toddlers in Early Intervention and continuing through to assisting young adults transition into the workforce and community life. In 2006 the Darnell School for Educational and Behavioral Services opened its doors.
Presently, HMEA provides services to over 4000 children and adults with disabilities, and their families, in 110 communities in Massachusetts.