Dan Habib Releases "Keeping Families Together" Highlighting the Work of START in Arkansas

keeping families together - mother and son

DURHAM, NH – Dan Habib, Filmmaker at the Institute on Disability, recently released a short documentary film called Keeping Families Together. Habib’s film tells the stories of two families whose lives have been transformed with help from ArkSTART and its partner organizations.

The Arkansas Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment (START) project, known as ArkSTART, was launched by the Developmental Disabilities Cooperative of Arkansas as a small regional pilot initiative in September 2011. It is now expanding statewide, and is part of a national initiative that improves service efficiency and outcomes for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs in the community.

The project began when Dr. Joan Beasley, Director of the Center for START Services at the IOD, connected ArkSTART with Dan Habib. ArkSTART was in need of a way to introduce their work to both service providers and family members and Habib was interested in taking on a shorter film before he began production on his next feature length documentary.

“When the idea arose for a film that would show the work being done in Arkansas using the START model,” Habib explains, "I knew this would be a powerful opportunity to help the general public see that adults with complex disabilities could be full participants in their communities and the workplace.” Habib is also the creator of the films Who Cares About Kelsey? and Including Samuel.

The short documentary film features the stories of two individuals who are supported by ArkSTART—Jonathan Smith and Ashley Jackson—along with the voices of family and community members, and ArkSTART staff. The film paints a compelling picture of the philosophy, practices, goals, and impact of the START approach.

Premiere of Keeping Families Together

"ArkSTART is supporting not just the individual with the disability, but the entire family,” Habib said. “These families are under tremendous stress, and the film shows how ArkSTART is helping these families stay intact."

“We are extremely pleased with the video [because] it gives viewers a perspective of ArkSTART through the eyes of parents involved with the program,” shares Whitney Emerson of ArkSTART.

Keeping Families Together can be freely viewed on the ArkSTART website or on the ArkSTART YouTube channel.


The Center for START Services was founded in 2009 at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire to respond to a nationwide demand to develop START services and provide technical support, education, and guidelines to ensure model fidelity. It aims to improve the lives of persons with IDD and behavioral health needs and their families through fidelity to the START model with exemplary services and supports that emphasize local, person-centered, positive, multidisciplinary, cost-effective, and evidence-informed practices. For information, visit www.centerforstartservices.com.