Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Change is in the Air (but not quite enough)

The D.C. council is still chewing over the FY16 budget, but it looks as though DDS will make out all right when the council takes its final vote the middle of this month.  I’m glad to see this, although the budget hearing in April (“A Complicated Picture,” April 30) pointed up some real challenges on which I hope we’ll see significant improvement between now and the next performance review eight months from now.  Rumor has it that Laura Nuss soon will be getting a new deputy to oversee the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDS/DDA), and that person will still have her work cut out:  wrapping up the Evans lawsuit, giving real meaning to person- (and family-)centered planning, determining what DDA itself can do to facilitate supported decision making, and – oh yes! – getting D.C. to reach those who do not get any coverage at all under the waiver. 

After my last posting (“Setting the Record Straight,” May 20), Erin Leveton (erin.leveton@dc.gov) was good enough to forward me an email from the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDS), citing a study by the University of Minnesota that estimates the number of persons with developmental disabilities in D.C. (in 2013) at 9,632.  So my original estimate of 10,000 turns out not to have been that far off after all.  Still, when asked by Health and Human Services committee chair Alexander whether there is any legislation DDS will be submitting to the council in fiscal year 2015, DDS only said it would be seeking a little more flexibility on the definition of “intellectual disability.”  This (which may or may not really require legislation) may indeed allow a few more people who don’t fall strictly under the IQ limit of 69 or below to become eligible.  It doesn’t show the ambitious thirst for equity that disability advocates showed in 2009-2010, though, when they tried to get the Developmental Disabilities Reform Act (DDRA) passed by the council.  

With a new DDA deputy, at least DDS will have more high-level folks to focus on this critical issue, along with some of the issues raised in hearings before the Alexander committee this past spring.


  1. Carol,
    This is the 3rd time I have written a comment...Can you tell I am not a Google, Twitter, Facebook kind of gal.
    In short bravo! And thank you. Great writing and invaluable information and effort.

    1. Thank you Sara. It's nice to know I have readers outside the immediate DC area, and if some of what I write is helpful to you too, that's great to hear.


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