State and Territorial Councils on Developmental Disabilities are authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). The Councils work to improve the quality of supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
This topic provides information about Councils on Developmental Disabilities in a question and answer format. You may read the following sections of it in sequence, or jump to any specific section in the list below:
· What are State Councils on Developmental Disabilities?
· Who administers the State Council grant program?
· What are the major activities of State Councils?
o Quality Assurance
· How do Councils work for systems change, advocacy, and capacity building?
· Additional Information
o National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD)
Each state and territory has a Developmental Disabilities Council that functions to increase the independence, productivity, inclusion, and community integration of people with developmental disabilities. State Councils on Developmental Disabilities are funded through formula grants authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act).
State Councils are uniquely composed of individuals with developmental disabilities, parents and family members of people with developmental disabilities, representatives of State agencies that administer funds under Federal laws related to individuals with disabilities, and local and nongovernmental agencies. A Council is governed by volunteers who are appointed by a State's Governor. More than 60% of these volunteers must be people with developmental disabilities or family members. In this way, the "customers" of the service system direct the Council's activities.
State Councils pursue systems change (e.g., the way human service agencies do business so that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families have better or expanded services), advocacy (e.g., educating policy makers about unmet needs of individuals with developmental disabilities), and capacity building (e.g., working with state service agencies to provide training and benefits to direct care workers) to promote independence, self-determination, productivity, integration and inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life.
The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) is the Federal agency responsible for implementation and administration of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). Organizationally, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities is located within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is part of the Department's Administration for Children and Families. The ADD website is at:
Councils utilize strategies such as training, educating policy makers and communities, coalition development, barrier elimination, and demonstration of new approaches to service. These strategies are incorporated into a five-year State Plan that includes, and is based on, a comprehensive review and analysis of services, supports, and other assistance in the State available to individual with developmental disabilities. For example:
Employment - Councils demonstrate and promote innovative employment methods such as supported employment and self-employment to assist individuals with developmental disabilities to get and keep jobs. Councils were instrumental in demonstrating supported employment programs, where people get and keep jobs through the help of a job coach. Tens of thousand of people have been employed through this method since its inception in the 1980s. Currently, some Councils are working with local business leadership networks, and State and local employment programs to help individuals with developmental disabilities start their own businesses. These innovative programs help to reduce the unemployment rate of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Housing - Councils provide coordination and assistance in home ownership to people with developmental disabilities. Innovative programs such as Home of Your Own (HOYO) bring together real estate agents, mortgage lenders and bankers to secure down payments and low-interest loans, thus easing the process of home ownership for individuals with developmental disabilities with modest financial resources.
Education - Councils provide training and technical assistance to school systems to support the inclusion of children with developmental disabilities in their neighborhood schools. Councils also work to change policies that isolate or exclude children with developmental disabilities through systems change efforts such as educating policy makers.
Quality Assurance - Councils provide training and support so that individuals with developmental disabilities can advocate for themselves and others, develop leadership skills, participate in their communities, exercise choice and control over their lives, and play a role in the development of public policies that affect them.
Central to the DD Act is the concept of self-determination. Councils work in partnership with individuals with developmental disabilities and family members to encourage the development of a consumer and family centered comprehensive service system.
The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) is a national, member-driven organization consisting of 55 State and Territorial Councils. NACDD was established in 2002 to bring together the two organizations that previously supported DD Councils, Consortium of Developmental Disabilities Councils and National Association of Developmental Disabilities Councils.
NACDD represents the diverse interests of its Council members, and it is the national voice of the Councils on Developmental Disabilities. Its purpose is to support Councils in implementing the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and in promoting the interests and rights of people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Visit the NACDD website at:
A comprehensive list of Councils on DD with website URLs, Executive Directors' names, and email addresses may be found at:
Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act)
University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD)
Protection and Advocacy Systems - Overview
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