Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to many frequently asked questions are provided here, with some links to additional information. If your question is not answered, contact us.
- What are developmental disabilities?
Developmental disabilities are significant, life-long disabilities that begin at birth or during childhood (through the age of 21). Some examples are autism, intellectual/cognitive disability, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain jury.
They are called developmental disabilities because they manifest during a person’s "developmental" years (0-21).
A sole diagnosis of mental illness is not considered a developmental disability in Maryland.
- What is the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)?
DDA is the primary agency within state government that funds community services and supports for people with developmental disabilities and their families. DDA makes decisions about people’s eligibility for services and supports; places eligible people in priority categories on the DDA Waiting List; determines who on the Waiting List will receive services; and funds services, most of which are provided though licensed community agencies. DDA is located within the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).
Use the information in this section to learn more about the Developmental Disabilities Administration, how to apply for services & supports, and what to expect.
Developmental Disabilities Administration
Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) -- Eligibility Criteria
How to Apply for DDA Services
Regional Offices of DDA (contact to apply and to ask questions)
Services Provided by the Developmental Disabilities Administration
- Who is eligible for services from DDA?
Eligibility is based on definitions found in Maryland State law (Health-General Article, Title 7, Developmental Disabilities Law). Individuals must apply and be determined eligible for DDA services. Individuals are eligible for services if they if they have a developmental disability.
An individual has a developmental disability if they have a severe, chronic disability caused by a “physical or mental condition” other than a sole diagnosis of mental illness that:
- Is manifested before the age of 22,
- Is likely to continue indefinitely, and
- As a result, the individual cannot live independently without continuing assistance and the need for services that are individually planned and coordinated.
An individual who does not meet the definition of developmental disability described above, may still be eligible for limited services from DDA called “Individual Support Services.” The person still must have a severe, chronic disability, which is caused by a physical or mental condition other than a sole diagnosis of mental illness. However, he/she does not have to meet the other criteria listed above.
- Are services an entitlement?
No. Services from DDA are not an entitlement. This means that people who are found eligible for services from DDA are not guaranteed that they will receive services.
- How do you apply for services from the DDA?
For an application and an explanation of what to expect, go to: www.ddamaryland.org/howtoapply
- What is DDA's Waiting List for community services?
Children and adults with significant developmental disabilities throughout Maryland need essential services to remain with their families and in their communities.
When they apply for services, the DDA determines if they have a developmental disability and are eligible for services . If a person is eligible for services, DDA determines how critical their need for services is and places them in a priority category. DDA services are not an entitlement and the need for services far exceeds what DDA is funded to provide, so people determined eligible for services are placed on a Waiting List. DDA receives little new funding to adequately serve people in need so the Waiting List continues to grow.
In fact, the list has grown to crisis proportions. As of October 2007 there were over 16,000 people on the DD Waiting List for community services, 8600 of them in a crisis category for at least one service. Go to the “Facts & Figures” section for more details.
- What are the Priority Categories on the DDA Waiting List?
When people apply to DDA, they indicate if they are in need of one or more of the following broad category of services: Residential services & supports, Day/Employment services & supports, and/or Family/Individual Support Services.
If an individual is determined to be eligible for services from DDA, he/she will be placed in one of the following priority categories for each service needed.
- Category I - Crisis Resolution
- Category II - Crisis Prevention
- Category III - Current Request
For example, a person could be in placed in Crisis Resolution for Day services and Crisis Prevention for Residential services or placed in the same category for both.
Category I: Crisis Resolution
To qualify for this category, the applicant shall meet one or more of the following criteria. The applicant shall be:
(i) Homeless or living in temporary housing with clear time-limited ability to continue to live in this setting with no viable non-DDA-funded alternative;
(ii) At serious risk of physical harm in the current environment;
(iii) At serious risk of causing physical harm to others in the current environment;
(iv) In danger of losing DDA-funded residential services because of a lack of current day services;
(v) One who has lost DDA-funded day services; or
(vi) Living with a caregiver who is unable to provide adequate care due to the caregiver's impaired health, which may place the applicant at risk of serious
Category II: Crisis Prevention
To qualify for this priority category, the applicant:
(i) Shall have been determined by the DDA to have an urgent need for services;
(ii) May not qualify for services based on the criteria for Category I; and
(iii) Shall be at substantial risk for meeting one or more of the criteria in §B(1)(a) within 1 year, or have a caregiver who is 65 years old or more.
Category III: Current Request
To qualify for this priority category, the applicant shall indicate at least a current need for services.
Description of Categories source: Code of MD Regulations 10.22.12.07
- When DDA has funds to serve people on the Waiting List, how is the decision made regarding who gets services?
DDA staff assesses who is in greatest need given all available information. People are not served on a first-come, first served basis.
- What community services does DDA fund?
Residential: Adults with developmental disabilities are supported to live in homes and apartments in the community. Community services providers own or rent the homes and provide a full range of supports to assist individuals to learn and perform activities of daily living, participate in their communities, and live as independently as possible.
Community Supported Living Arrangements (CSLA): These services provide a full range of community based supports to assist individuals to live in their own homes, apartments, or family homes. Services include personal assistance, supports enhancing the individual’s opportunity for community participation and exercising choice and control, training necessary to assist the individual in achieving and maintaining integration, independence and productivity, environmental modifications and adaptive equipment.
Day Services: Day programs provide individuals with learning/work experience necessary to reach maximum independent functioning or provide work skills necessary to enter the workforce.
Supported Employment: These are community-based services that provide the supports necessary for individuals to obtain and maintain work in the community. Supports may include job skills training, job development, vocational assessment, and ongoing job coaching support.
Family Support Services: These are a wide array of services provided to families with children under the age of twenty-two living at home. The services assist the family so the child with a disability can be adequately cared for at home and include, but are not limited to: respite care, in-home assistance, advocacy, adaptive equipment, parent support groups, and transportation assistance.
Individual Support Services: These services are for adults living with family or on their own. Examples include transportation, environmental modifications, adaptive equipment, money management, and support to learn and complete daily living and home skills.
- How are services and supports provided?
When a person is selected to receive services, an individualized support plan is developed with them and others they choose to have involved. Individuals and their families are encouraged to consider all of the available options for how their services and supports will be provided and by whom.
Typically, these services are provided by a large network of community agencies licensed and funded by DDA. These agencies are monitored by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Health Care Quality. Some supports may also be provided through generic community organizations.
- Why can’t families just pay for the services they need themselves? Why should the state offer support?
The cost of services is far-beyond the financial capabilities of families. The average cost of residential services is over $66,000 per year; the average annual cost of day services is over $15,000.
In addition, most individuals and their families on the DDA Waiting List incur expenses related to their disability over and above the typical costs of living that most of society faces. Examples include: adaptive equipment and ongoing therapies that insurance won’t cover; expensive vehicle adaptations; and care for an teen or adult while parents work (typical families stop needing this type care in the teens).
- How many people receive community services now?
DDA funds services and supports for approximately 22,000 children and adults with disabilities in Maryland. This ranges from summer camp scholarships and periodic low-level services to a full range of very extensive services and supports.
- How does Maryland rate compared to other states in terms of how much is spent on developmental disability services?
We rank 43rd in terms of Maryland’s spending on developmental disabilities services. Only eight states rank lower: Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia. (The measure is referred to as “Fiscal effort,” which is a ratio that ranks states according to the proportion of their aggregate statewide personal income devoted to the financing of MR/DD services.) For more Information click here
Source: “State of the States in Developmental Disabilities 2011” report by David Braddock, PhD et al, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, University of Colorado. www.cu.edu/ColemanInstitute/stateofthestates
- Has Maryland ever undertaken a significant multi-year initiative to address the needs of people on the DDA Waiting List? Was it successful?
Yes. There was a Waiting List Initiative in Maryland from FY 1999-2003, first supported by Governor Parris Glendenning. Individuals with disabilities, families and advocates provided the impetus for the Waiting List Initiative through a comprehensive grassroots advocacy campaign. That campaign, which told the stories of thousands of Marylanders with disabilities, moved policy makers, legislators and the Governor to take significant and meaningful action to provide services to individuals on the waiting list for DDA services. In Fiscal Year 1999, individuals with disabilities and their families began to see the fruit of their work. More than $34 million was provided in that first year to serve individuals waiting for services, individuals transitioning out of school and individuals in emergency situations. This ambitious project has translated into thousands of services since the beginning of the Initiative for individuals with developmental disabilities throughout Maryland.
The Waiting List Initiative
Summary of Services Approved and Funds Committed
Cumulative Totals (July 1, 1998 - June 30, 2003) Services Approved Funds Committed
Individual Support Service 2,024 $11,087,123 Family Support Services 2,653 $7,629,049 Residential Services 1,855 $53,124,891 Day Services 2,374 $30,770,958 Total 8,906 $102,612,021
Since the beginning of the Waiting List Initiative, 8252 individuals who applied for services before 1/1/98 received at least one service by June 30, 2003. An additional 4208 individuals who applied for services between 1/1/98 and 1/1/99, received day or support services.
Read the entire report, Waiting List Initiative: FY 1999-2003
Summary excludes the following: Downsizing and Local Match ($10m); Rate Enhancement (<$16m); Cola/Inflation (<$39m); Resource Coordination (<$2m); and Infrastructure ($1m).
- What do people on the Waiting List, their families and advocates want? What is needed?
People with disabilities on the Waiting List, their families and advocates want the Governor and state legislature to commit funding to significantly reduce the DDA Waiting List for community services. This will require a multi-year funding initiative. It is doable. With over 17,000 people stuck on the Waiting List, many of them in crisis -- and the numbers are growing each year -- this issue can’t wait. Families can’t wait.
- What is the Developmental Disabilities Coalition?
The Developmental Disabilities Coalition (DD Coalition) is comprised of the leading statewide organizations in Maryland dedicated to the rights and quality of life of people developmental disabilities. Member organizations include: People On the Go of Maryland, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, The Arc of Maryland, Maryland Association of Community Services, and Maryland Disabilities Law Center.
Among other things, the DD Coalition advocates for quality supports and services in the community; the rights of individuals to live in the most integrated/inclusive setting; an end to segregating people with disabilities in institutions; and a significant reduction, and an eventual end, to the DDA’s Waiting List for community services.
- What if you don't know whether or not you are on the Waiting List?
Contact the DDA Regional office in your area and if you are not on the list request an application.
- What is the DDA Waiting List Initiative funded with alcohol sales tax revenue?
Legislation passed in 2011 that raised the sales tax on alcohol products in Maryland. $15 million of this new revenue was dedicated in FY 2012 to provide services and supports to people on the DDA waiting list. Working with stakeholders, DDA developed a policy and process regarding how to allocate these limited resources. For more details, see the Facts & Figures page.