Most do not get DDA services

This begs the question: How are they faring?



In King County, 74 percent of people with developmental disabilities are not served through the state Developmental Disabilities Administration

Research and 2016 census calculations say we should expect about 115,000 people in Washington to have with a developmental disability.

Yet the number who get services designed to help them keep, learn, or improve skills and functioning for daily living is much lower. In fact, through the appropriate state agencies, we may be failing to reach almost three quarters of the people with a developmental disability. This is because services are reserved for those already in or near crisis and who are at risk of institutionalization.

Statewide, this leaves more than 85,000 people at increased risk of dropping out of school, unemployment, homelessness and incarceration. It also puts their families at increased risk for financial or housing instability.

In the graphics above are numbers of people with developmental disabilities who are not getting habilitative services through the state Developmental Disabilities Administration.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services puts the percentage of population with a developmental disability at 1.58* percent. We used census figures to calculate King County and statewide estimates, then we reduced by DDA caseload, and fnially added back in those sitting on DDA "no paid services" lists.

It is important to note two things:

  1. We can't conflate DDA clients with incident rates of developmental disabilities. Many never apply for services, for a variety of reasons including not being aware of them. AND ... not all who apply for DDA services will qualify. That does not mean these individuals do not have developmental disabilities. It just means they aren't deemed in imminent danger of requiring institutionalization.
  2. Not all DDA clients get services. Services depend on available funding. Thousands have applied and qualified, but sit on “no paid services” lists, waiting for funding and slots to open up.
So, how many people ARE getting habilitative services through the state DDA?
  • King County: 8,738 are getting paid DDA services as of July 2016; 25,232 are not
  • Statewide: 29,983 are getting paid services as of July 2016; 85,167 are not
People who do not receive DDA services may still qualify for personal care or other services, but they aren’t accessing supports that specifically benefit people with impairments in reasoning, learning and problem solving, and in adaptive behavior.

For example, the Basic Plus program includes Behavior Support and Consultation; Family Consultation and Training; and Behavioral Health Stabilization (among other services). Only 8,131 people are enrolled statewide.

Not everyone needs intense support. But habilitative approaches can be life changing for people with developmental disabilities. It is challenging to get habilitative services through insurance -- prior to the Affordable Care Act it was even more difficult. If the system in general limits access to habilitative care to state DDA programs and people already in crisis, then thousands who could benefit and avoid crisis, go without.

Total children, 6,652 ... Total Adults, 5,835. Source: CARE System on 7/1/2016

*The 1.58 percentage is based on a National Health Interview Survey on Disability (NHIS-D). Other studies indicate  that individuals with developmental disabilities comprise between 1.2 and 1.65 percent of  the U.S. population. Using those percentages, Washington’s numbers range from 87,456 to 120,252.