Here are some common terms and organizations you should know, organized alphabetically, in order to understand the disability world in D.C.  Let me know if you think there are others I should add!

Behavior Support Plan.  Anyone receiving DDA supports who takes regular medications or requires any other type of behavior management must have one of these, renewed annually, because medications and behavior management are viewed as rights restrictions. The individual being supported or his/her designated representative (e.g. power of attorney or court-appointed guardian) must provide informed consent by signing the BSP, which also goes through a two-tier review process, one (Human Rights Committee, or HRC) convened by the BSP service provider, and the second (Restrictive Controls Review Committee, or RCRC) convened by DDA. 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  This is the arm of the federal government that oversees and provides approval/disapproval for anything relating to Medicaid waiver services – including the I/DD waiver and the EPD waiver in D.C.  (see below).  https://www.cms.gov

The D.C. Developmental Disabilities Council (https://ddc.dc.gov/) is responsible for “identifying the most pressing needs of people with developmental disabilities ...[and] advancing public policy and systems change that help [them] gain more control over their lives.” As one of the 56 federally mandated, federally funded state councils on developmental disabilities, it promotes self-determination, integration and inclusion for D.C. adults with developmental disabilities.  In D.C., its members are appointed by the mayor.  The current executive director is Alison Whyte (alison.whyte@dc.gov) and, as of January 2019, Carol Grigsby is Council chair.  Each state's DD council is hosted by a Designated State Agency, and in D.C. that agency is the Office of Disability Rights (https://odr.dc.gov/). Find more information about councils on developmental disabilities at https://nacdd.org and https://acl.gov/programs/aging-and-disability-networks/state-councils-developmental-disabilities.

DC Coalition -
The DC Coalition of Disability Service Providers represents the human care agencies responsible for support and services to D.C. citizens under DDS oversight.  http://dc-coalition.org/

DC Support LInk -

-       Also known as No Wrong Door, DC Support Link, http://dcsupportlink.networkofcare.org/, is the District's one-stop shop for finding your way to services and supports from the D.C. government.

Developmental Disability in Washington, D.C.  You're reading it - my blog about issues affecting people with developmental and other disabilities in the D.C. area, at https://www.DDinWDC.com/

Developmental Disabilities Reform Act (not the same as the DSRAA, below). Introduced in the council in 2009, this bill, with the support of most organizations concerned with disability issues, proposed full-scale revision in the legislation addressing support for those with developmental disabilities.  The bill died in committee in December 2010.  DDS has found ways to implement some aspects of the bill not requiring specific legislation, but major issues, most particularly the failure to expand services beyond intellectual disabilities, remain unresolved.  http://dc-dleg.blogspot.com

The Department on Disability Services.  DDS is the D.C. entity with primary responsibility for serving persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and in some regards those with other types of disabilities.  In D.C. the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) both come under DDS and are overseen by two deputies reporting to her.  As of April 2016, Andy Reese was named acting DDS director (andrew.reese@dc.gov), and he was confirmed in the position by the D.C. council in November of 2016. https://dds.dc.gov

The Developmental Disabilities Administration, one of the two operational arms of DDS (the other is RSA, below).  DDA’s primary function is to administer the I/DD waiver, described below, which is one of two “Medicaid waivers” for citizens with disabilities in the District. As of February 2019 Winslow Woodland is the deputy director DDA (winslow.woodland@dc.gov).


Quality Assurance and Performance Management Administration, newly created in October 2017 and since November 2019 is headed by Kirk Dobson (kirk.dobson@dc.gov).  SOPPI, the State Office of Policy, Planning and Innovation, was folded into QAPMA in November 2018.  SOPPI, formerly known as SODA, the State Office of Disability Administration, was established under Andy Reese's predecessor Laura Nuss as a "state" oversight office with a degree of autonomy from the rest of DDS but no longer serves that function.

Rehabilitation Services Administration, one of the two operational arms of DDS (the other is DDA, above).  RSA provides “vocational rehabilitation” services in D.C., and is intended to help people with disabilities (in this case, either developmental or physical) to identify the type of work they’d like to do and in some cases assist them to get the training or education they need.  RSA also includes the unit that makes determinations on behalf of the federal Social Security Administration (SSA) on eligibility for disability benefits.  As of February 2019, Daryl Evans (daryl.evans@dc.gov) is deputy director for RSA.

The Department of Health Care Finance.  DHCF oversees healthcare services for residents of the District of Columbia, and is responsible for everything pertaining to Medicaid - including the I/DD waiver administered by DDS and the EPD waiver administered by the D.C. Office on Aging.  It is headed by Wayne Turnage (wayne.turnage@dc.gov), who is also deputy mayor for health and human services under Mayor Bowser.

Disability Rights D.C., D.C.'s federally-mandated Protection and Advocacy program located in the nonprofit organization University Legal Services (ULS). Along with the DDC and the UCEDD, DRDC is the second leg of the D.C."triad"of federally manated entities with responsibility for developmental disabilities.  www.uls-dc.org.

Direct Support Professional.  As the name indicates, these are staff who work directly with the individuals receiving support from one of the agencies funded under the waiver.


Disability Services Reform Amendment Act of 2018.  Previously known as the Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities Civil Rights Restoration Act of 2017, this bill, passed in 2018, rolled back civil commitment, established supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship in the District, and called on DDS to establish a system for resolving complaints.

Elderly and physical disabilities waiver, administered by D.C.’s Office on Aging.  It is sometimes also confusingly called the “elderly and persons with disabilities” waiver. 

Family Support Council.  An advisory body established by DDS to provide advice on how to improve person- and family-centered supports and inclusion through D.C. programs.

FY -
Fiscal year, also known as the budget year.  D.C.'s fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30.

Georgetown UCEDD -
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.  UCEDDs are federally mandated (see https://www.aucd.org), and the university center for D.C. is housed at Georgetown.  The Georgetown UCEDD is the final leg of the "triad," along with the DD Council and DRDC.  Tawara Goode is director of the Georgetown UCEDD.   http://ucedd.georgetown.edu.  


Home and Community-based Waiver.  Under Medicaid regulations, this is the (preferred) alternative to institutional care for persons with disabilities, and is the trend in disability supports nationwide.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a federal law originally passed in 1975 that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) tailored to their individual needs.

Individualized day services, also known as individualized day supports.  This is one of the newer forms of day programming, or “day habilitation” services, instituted in 2014.  As of October 2015, CMS has approved a waiver amendment that will allow 1:1 IDS services.

I/DD waiver
Intellectual and developmental disabilities waiver, administered by DDA.  Despite the name, this waiver serves only those who were tested with an IQ of below 70 (with allowance in some cases for a slight margin of error) before the age of 18.  Services under the I/DD waiver are not provided to those with other developmental disabilities such as autism unless they are accompanied by an intellectual disability as defined above.  http://dds.dc.gov/service/how-apply-services

Individualized Plan for Employment.  Everyone approved for services from RSA has to have one of these.  Unlike the ISP for DDA services, these are updated on an ad hoc basis, as and when there is a change in the type of employment-related services being requested. http://dds.dc.gov/service/creating-individual-plan-employment

ISP -    
Individual Support Plan.  Everyone receiving DDA services has to have one of these, reviewed and renewed annually.  https://dds.dc.gov/publication/annual-individual-support-plan-procedure

National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services. The association's goal is to promote and assist state agencies to furnish high-quality supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to build person-centered systems of services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.  https://www.nasddds.org.

No Wrong Door -
Also known as DC Support Link, http://dcsupportlink.networkofcare.org/ is the District's one-stop shop for finding your way to services and supports from the D.C. government.

D.C. Office of Disability Rights.  ODR's mission is "to ensure that the programs, services, benefits, activities and facilities operated or funded by the District of Columbia are fully accessible to, and useable by people with disabilities."  ODR also houses and staffs the federally-funded D.C. Developmental Disabilities Council.  Mat McCollough is the current director of ODR. https://odr.dc.gov/

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education.  OSERS oversees vocational rehabilitation services (see RSA, below) nationwide.  http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/rsa/index.html

D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education.  OSSE oversees D.C. education programs for youth as well as administering programs to foster adult literacy and vocational skills.  https://www.osse.dc.gov.

Project ACTION! -
Project ACTION! is a grouping of self-advocates based in D.C. (but including representatives from Maryland and Virginia as well).  ACTION! stands for Advocacy, Change, Training, Information, Organizing and Networking. This vibrant organization, which weighs in actively on issues of concern to the disability community, meets monthly on Saturdays at the Kennedy Institute, 801 Buchanan St. NE, Washington, D.C.  For more information contact Phyllis Holton at (202) 448-1458. 

QT -
Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities - also often just called "Quality Trust."  QT is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 2001 under the Evans lawsuit to advocate and monitor services for people with developmental disabilities in D.C.  Its role has broadened to include, in particular, national leadership on supported decision making.  http://www.dcqualitytrust.org

State Independent Living Council.  These exist in every U.S. jurisdiction, to promote independent living for people with disabilities.  D.C. SILC members are appointed by the mayor and include advocates, others with disabilities, and other stakeholders involved in independent living services. http://dds.dc.gov/page/statewide-independent-living-council.

SF CoP -
Supporting Families Community of Practice.  In 2013 D.C. received a five-year grant from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to explore, along with several U.S. states, better ways of supporting families who have family members with disabilities.  D.C.'S SF CoP has been meeting since fall of 2013 and has been the place where a lot of new ideas and initiatives have been incubated.  https://dds.dc.gov/page/dc-supporting-families-community-practice


State Rehabilitation Council.  The SRC advises RSA on its role in providing vocational services  and expanding employment options for D.C. residents with disabilities and tracks RSA's performance.  SRC members are appointed by the mayor and include a variety of RSA stakeholders.  http://dds.dc.gov/page/dc-state-rehabilitation-council

Supported Decision Making.  SDM offers a way to support people with disabilities in making decisions without supplanting them. With the DSRAA, D.C. became one of only a handful of states (because hey, that's really what we are!) to offer SDM agreements as an alternative to guardianship.

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