Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Pre-Thanksgiving Updates!

It feels important to get a brief post out before tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday, and I’m overdue with some updates:

 -          First, my last blog post called on DDS to highlight the change in eligibility requirements prominently on the home page, and I’ve also raised it with Andy Reese in a couple of Friday forums.  As a result, you’ll now find a “crawler” across the header of the DDS website ( reading “Eligibility Requirements for DDS Services Expanded” – but unfortunately it just links to the existing application page:  If you go very far down this page you’ll find an “eligibility fact sheet” deeply buried.  This is something, but not, I think, the level of visibility most of us would have hoped for in explaining how things changed on October 1.

-          -         Second, the Eligibility First Summit took place at MLK library October 20 and 21 (, and for those in attendance it was considered a great success.  At least 150 people attended some portion of the event, either in person or online.  We could have wished for more agencies providing employment supports to attend, and we certainly could have wished for more private employers.  But there will be follow-up!  And that follow-up already is proceeding with respect to how the DC government can lead by example by hiring more people with disabilities.  Robin Shaffert of the Georgetown UCEDD ( led a fantastic breakout group on the subject, and plans to pursue the issue further.  Meantime, I understand the mayor expressed determination to make more happen on this front at the Disability Expo on October 26.

That’s all for now – have a meaningful and healthy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Thursday, October 27, 2022


I've been contacted about the fact that the new eligibility information isn't showing up clearly on the DDS website.  This has been raised with DDS director Andy Reese and others, and I'm told it will be corrected soon.  In the meantime, here is the DDS fact sheet, in English -

and in Spanish -

For the moment, both of these links are from my Google Drive - but soon they will be on the DDS website!

NOTE:  Right after posting, I was told that these fact sheets can be found (very far down the page) at  Still not the level of visibility the new eligibility criteria deserve!  And - to answer other questions that need to be answered on the web page - the new criteria took effect on October 1.

Saturday, September 24, 2022


 Note these important upcoming dates in October!

Fall is here, and the schedule is heating up!

But wait, there’s more!

  • At the 9/23 community forum, Andy Reese encouraged our community to participate actively in the mayor’s upcoming budget forums so the voice of people with disabilities and their supporters can be heard!
  • The federal Centers for Disease Control has this updated information on staying up to date with covid vaccinations, including the new booster -

 Stay safe! Be active!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Changes Coming for the DC Disability Community This Fall

Maybe some of you have noticed that my blog has been on a summer hiatus.  Others may not have noticed because, like me, you’ve been in a doesn’t-seem-like-a-pandemic-but-not-sure-what-it-is mode, still trying to get oriented in a newly “hybrid” world.  I continue to live much of my life online, but am also venturing out to in-person meetings and other gatherings – sometimes masked, sometimes not.  I have a sneaking feeling that there is going to be more mandatory masking in our future, though – the virus just isn’t done with us yet.

As you know, back in the spring we finally achieved passage of the DDERAA, and having cleared Congressional review, it became law on May 18 ( Throughout the summer, DC’s Department on Disability Services has been working out the details on how the new eligibility criteria will be implemented and preparing to recruit new staff to handle the intake workload.  As of July 25, DDS was about to meet with the federal CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – see for this and other important organizations and terms) to make sure proposed amendments to DC’s Medicaid waiver, the source of most funding for DDS long-term supports, meet with its approval.  At the now-monthly Friday forums (, there also have been presentations on this planning (see Power Points, DDS's “Eligibility Determination DDERAA 2022” as well as the “DDERAA Powerpoint” backgrounder by Sandy Bernstein of Disability Rights DC, both at the above link).  DDS is still targeting October 1 as the start date for revised eligibility, and has indicated that applications can be submitted somewhat earlier than that, although I haven't seen an official announcement to confirm that.

While working with other advocates to help DDS shape this more inclusive future, I’ve also been supporting my own son, who receives long-term supports in DC, as well as talking with others who have family members in the DDS system.  Policy-level planning meetings often attract the best and brightest of DDS staff and provider-agency representatives, but it can be discouraging to see how much the day-to-day system still focuses on paperwork requirements and compliance while losing sight of how best to support people to live their best life.  DDS and DHCF are moving (too) slowly to meet the challenge of paying DSPs the fair wages they deserve, but this will not remedy deep-seated institutional habits in both DDS and provider agencies that too often get in the way of a reimagined future for DC residents with developmental disabilities (

An essential part of a reimagined future is meaningful work for our neighbors with disabilities.  We’re told that jobs are there for the taking in the US economy right now, and we need to see that people with disabilities in our community benefit accordingly.  I’ve spent the summer working closely with a group planning for a major fall event at the MLK library that will mark the 10-year anniversary of DC’s designation as an “Employment First” state.  This summit will take stock of progress on the employment front while kick-starting a broader, community-based commitment to including people with disabilities in the DC workforce.  Expanding the number and types of employers; broadening types of work and customizing jobs (more intentional “job carving” and more part-time offerings); and ensuring the DC government is in the vanguard of community efforts:  these are some of the exciting issues that we are trying to incorporate into the Summit, under the leadership of the Developmental Disabilities Council’s Kevin Wright.  Put October 20 and 21 on your calendar now, and watch for the EventBrite invitation!  We’re anticipating 250-300 participants, and the exhibits, in addition to plenary presentations and breakout groups, will set the stage for a transformational difference over the next ten years – but only if YOU come and participate!

Finally, if you’re interested in technology options that can help improve supports for people in DC and beyond, you may want to take in this “Tech First” event that will be sponsored by DDS at the MLK library on August 16: (in person or online, of course!).

Carol A. Grigsby is the mother of a young man who receives long-term disability supports from DC’s Department on Disability Services.  I advocate in support of Washington, DC residents with developmental disabilities, and currently co-chair the Advocacy and Public Policy committee of the DC Developmental Disabilities Council.  I also strongly support statehood for DC, where I have lived since 1978. Comments and opinions in this blog are my own, and you can also find me on Twitter, @DDinWDC! 



Thursday, May 12, 2022

What will DC's DDA Eligibility Change Mean for Me?


I know many readers are focused on this Saturday’s Project ACTION! meeting, but I’d like to encourage you to look ahead to next week, specifically to Thursday, May 19.  I’ve written a lot about the legislation which will allow people without an intellectual disability to be eligible for DDA long-term supports, starting in the coming fiscal year (October 1).  But what exactly is that going to mean?  This session on May 19 will be the first in a series to help people understand better how they and their loved ones will be affected by the change in eligibility requirements.  See the details here – - and SIGN UP TO ATTEND at

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Mayor's Budget Funds DDS for Eligibility Reform

In a blog post earlier this month (, I celebrated the DC council’s final passage of B24-0268, the Developmental Disability Eligibility Reform Amendment Act.  It’s now been transmitted to the mayor and is awaiting her signature (

But Mayor Bowser already has signaled her intent, by including $500,000 in funding for DDS in her proposed FY2023 budget, under “Health and Human Services” here:  This money is intended to support new intake staff and training so that DDS can be ready to implement eligibility reform effective October 1.  (Some of the new staff will come on board before the end of this fiscal year, which ends on September 30.)  That signature still is important though!  After she signs, the Congress will have its opportunity to review the bill, as they always do (, but it’s highly unlikely this bill would attract any negative attention from national legislators. 

So SPREAD THE WORD!  Advocates will be creating opportunities over the coming months to ensure people across the city are aware of this historic legislation and the change it will bring.  

DDS director Reese has indicated on several occasions that DDS will be contacting anyone who was turned down for DDA supports over the past three years to encourage them to re-apply.  In the Committee on Human Services hearing yesterday on the proposed DDS budget (beginning around the start of the second hour, 2:00:00, at, he indicated that nearly 100 slots are going unused in the traditional I/DD waiver (1923 available, 1826 utilized), with another 55 slots available (5 used out of 60) in the IFS waiver.  He also noted that 50 additional slots are normally added each year, with the distribution between the IFS and IDD waivers yet to be determined. 

One serious budget issue that remains is that the administration is proposing a 3-year phase-in instead of an immediate increase in DSP salaries, which will continue to put pressure on DDS providers’ recruitment efforts – hear DC Coalition ( director Ian Paregol starting around minute 1:25:00 of, and stick around to hear other advocates on that panel.  You’ll note that in my own testimony at around 1:40:00, in addition to noting passage and funding of the DDERAA, I called attention to the need for more robust efforts in favor of customized employment in this, the tenth year of DC’s participation as an Employment First state (see

A few other noteworthy events:

-          “Worlds Imagined” events for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM) continue tonight:  Contact Charlisa Payne ( or Alison Whyte ( to make sure you get the links for remaining events.  The DDS link shown here also has recordings of some previous DDAM events from earlier this month.

-        You’ll note that one of the events shown is Quality Trust’s “Better Together” Zoom gathering on Thursday at 5:30 – you have one more day to buy your ticket at if you want to participate in the painting!  No doubt Quality Trust’s new CEO, Shawn Ullman, will also be on hand!

-         This Friday, March 25, will be the last of DDS’s routine weekly community calls.  Starting in April, these calls will occur monthly on the fourth Friday of each month.  (A planning team will be meeting on the second Friday of each month.)

As always, if you wonder about any of the organizations or acronyms I use in my blog, please take a look at my (new and improved!) blog page “DC Disability-related Organizations and Terminology” (, which you can find over in the righthand panel of my blog.  If you don’t see something there that you’re wondering about, or if you think something needs updating, please let me know!

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Making Employment First a Reality

Today I’d like to focus people’s attention on employment.  For the sake of my own son and others who can benefit from a determined and creative approach to job development and support, I’m increasingly pivoting toward this essential advocacy focus.  We’re told that conditions are good for people seeking work now – so we need to seize on this opportunity for people with disabilities who are looking for jobs.  Now’s the time, and I hope you’ll join me in making this a reality here in our community.

As I noted in my first blog post of the year (, 2022 is the tenth anniversary of DC’s designation as an “Employment First” state ( TOMORROW, March 9 at 3:00, as part of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Kevin Wright, currently on the staff of the DC Developmental Disabilities Council (, will talk about his own experience as a young person with a learning disability pursuing employment, and will then lead a panel discussion on ways to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in the DC community:

This event will be doubly informative because Kevin ( is himself leading the charge on behalf of the DD council toward an Employment Summit that is scheduled to take place in OctoberEmployment has been identified as one of the key goals of the DC DD council’s 2022-2026 state plan, which can be found here:  The focus of Employment First is competitive, integrated, and customized employment for people with disabilities, and this summit is intended to gather all essential stakeholders to assess where we’ve seen progress over the past ten years, while also identifying the challenges ahead and developing strategies to bring more people with disabilities into the DC workforce, both public and private.

If you’re reading this, then I know you have a viewpoint on how the DC community is doing in terms of integrating people with developmental and other disabilities into the workforce.  There’s a working group that’s already beginning to put together the building blocks to make sure the October summit has maximum impact, and if you’d like to be a part of the planning please reach out to Kevin:  But first, tune in Wednesday at 3:00 -

Tuesday, March 1, 2022



Well, my friends, this is my 200th blog post, and that’s appropriate because there’s big news:

Today in its legislative meeting, the DC council held its second vote on the Developmental Disability Eligibility Reform Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-0268) and THE VOTE WAS AGAIN UNANIMOUS! 

We’ve done it!  YOU’VE done it!  We’ve pushed it over the goalpost!  And with the support of Committee on Human Services chair Brianne Nadeau ( and her colleagues on the DC council, the bill is on its way to the mayor -

After over a decade of effort, the DC council has agreed that DDA’s doors should be open to people with developmental disabilities who need the supports, not only to those with an intellectual disability.  We’ve made history today, and our community will be the better for it!  LIFT UP A CHEER!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

DC Council Performance Hearings and Changes at Quality Trust

DC is moving into budget season (fiscal year 2023), and throughout this month there are performance reviews in the DC council on various government agencies.  On February 10 the Committee on Human Services held its performance review hearing on the Department on Disability Services and the Office of Disability Rights.  The video of that hearing can be found here:  Testimony by DDS director Andy Reese, followed by Q and As, starts about 2 hours and 45 minutes into the video.  (Note:  You’ll hear me discuss customized employment, the need for DDS and providers to adapt to changing demographics and soon-to-change eligibility requirements, and discriminatory Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortly before, at 2 hours 22 minutes.)  Tomorrow, February 23, is the performance review for the Department of Health (DC Health), where, among other topics, you’ll hear more about the impact of discriminatory quarantine requirements for people with disabilities (  The Committee on Health will also soon hold its performance review of the powerful Department of Health Care Finance, which oversees Medicaid-related issues including waivers affecting people with disabilities.

Besides performance reviews, the DC council is scheduled to hold its second and final reading of B24-0268, the Developmental Disability Eligibility Reform Amendment Act, on March 1.  As I mentioned in my most recent post,, at the bill’s first reading the DC council vote was unanimous in favor, so this bill looks certain to pass the council.  But again, there are further steps before the bill becomes law, so keep an eye on this:

On a different subject – I rotated off the board of the Quality Trust ( at the end of December, but I still keep a close eye on developments there.  In that regard, it was wonderful to see QT’s newly arrived legal director, Sam Crane, last week, as she replaces the irreplaceable (!) Morgan Whitlatch.  Another big change in the offing will be the arrival of CEO Tina Campanella’s replacement, Shawn Ullman (  As founding CEO, Tina will be sorely missed.  Still, QT will be in good hands and continue its essential work in our community!

Sunday, February 6, 2022


[An earlier version of this post had errors with respect to the second reading of the DDERA, now corrected below.  Although I had checked with the DC council before posting on February 6, the timing was later clarified.  Also, DDS performance review responses are now available, so I’ve included that link in this revised post.]

The coming weeks will be important ones for those of us involved in disability advocacy:

 -          First, on February 10 at 9:00 am, DDS will have its performance review hearing (along with the Office on Disability Rights) before the Committee on Human Services. DDS’ answers to the committee’s advance questions can be found here: Questions?  Contact the committee at

-         -        Second, the Developmental Disability Eligibility Reform Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-0268) had its first reading in the full DC council this past week – AND THE COUNCIL’S FIRST VOTE ON THE BILL WAS UNANIMOUS!  The second reading, and final DC council vote, is scheduled for a legislative meeting on March 1, or possibly sooner.  After so much effort from the entire community (Congratulate yourself!), THIS IS PHENOMENAL!  But there are further steps after the council’s final vote before the bill can become law – see - and you can follow its further progress here:

What an important next few weeks this will be!

Sunday, January 16, 2022


The holidays did indeed slow me down, and I realize I haven’t blogged since before Thanksgiving.  Events are moving ahead so there’s much to report.

First and foremost, there’s the news that the DC council’s committee on human services will be marking up the Developmental Disability Eligibility Reform Amendment Act (B24-0268), on January 20.  This marks a historic moment, as the prospect of basing eligibility for long-term supports on true need rather than outmoded IQ measures is now on the horizon.  We’re very hopeful that the committee will leave the bill in substantially the same form agreed with advocates and that it will soon advance to the full council.  (For more background on this bill, see and  

The markup itself will not offer the chance to testify, but on February 10 the same committee will hold its annual performance review of D.C.’s Department on Disability Services (DDS).  As you start preparing your testimony for that hearing, you may want to take a look at this recent report issued by Quality Trust:  This report shows the changes in the types of people now served by DDS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration, and raises questions about whether DDA and its provider agencies are moving quickly enough to address these changes – as well as those that will come with eligibility reform if that passes the council this year.

The February 10 performance review will, of course, also cover the Rehabilitation Services Administration of DDS (DDS/RSA).  This coming fall will mark the 10th anniversary of DC’s designation as an “Employment First” jurisdiction (, and so this is the perfect time to be examining what has changed in the past decade for employment of people with disabilities in DC, and what we can do together to make greater progress.  The DD council is beginning preparations for an Employment Summit this fall to take a closer look, and if you’d like to get involved in the planning, you can contact Kevin Wright on the DDC staff:

Finally, this new year has brought some personal transitions for me.  As of December 31 I’ve rotated off the Quality Trust board after seven years, and also stepped down as chair of the Developmental Disabilities Council, although I am now co-chairing (with Ricardo Thornton) the DDC’s Advocacy and Public Policy committee.  The DDC’s new chair is Anjie Shelby, who has been a member of the DDC since 2019.  She now has the opportunity to put her own imprint on a DD council that recently doubled in size, with many new and imaginative members stepping up to make the DDC even more active and representative of our local community.