Introduction to State Disability Services

Jan 22 • Local Resources, Newsroom • 1830 Views • Comments Off on Introduction to State Disability Services

Introduction to State Disability Services

By John Krejcha

It does not matter if you call Oregon or Washington home, both states have funding streams in place to help support youth, adults and families impacted by Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD), including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Navigating these systems of support can be confusing, particularly for individuals and families who are new to a diagnosis or who have recently relocated.

In this introductory article, we explore for both states:

  • Where to look to find requirements to access developmental disability services
  • What kind of services may be available
  • Who to contact for additional assistance

State level agencies:

  • In Oregon, the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) assists families and individuals with I/DD through the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS).
  • In Washington, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) assists families through the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).

In addition to state services, most counties in both states have additional programs that serve their local developmental disabilities community.


While both states have different eligibility requirements to access support services, each state aims to assist individuals and families within the I/DD community, including those with an ASD diagnosis. In both states, regardless of how much income a family makes, specialized services can be accessed based on the needs and abilities of the individual.

Oregon: In Oregon, state services flow through each county’s Community Developmental Disability Program (CDDP) and they will be the ones who determine eligibility. Workers in each county can help with the necessary papers you need and can also guide you through the eligibility process if requested. All CDDPs use the same application for Developmental Disability Services. In Oregon, the paperwork can be filled out in English, Spanish, Russian or Vietnamese and can be downloaded online.

Website for eligibility:

Community Developmental Disability Program offices within the Greater Portland area:

Clackamas County: Clackamas County Mental Health – 503-655-8640

Hood River County: Mid-Columbia Center for Living – 541-386-2620

Marion County: Marion County Developmentally Disabled Services – 503-588-5288

Multnomah County: Multnomah County Developmental Disability Program – 503-988-3658

Washington County: Washington County Developmental Disability Program – 503-846-4737

Washington: In Washington state, the services flow through the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) which has broken the state up into regions. Workers at these offices can help assist you and send an intake packet. You can also download the forms online.

Website for eligibility:

Regional offices in Southwest Washington:

Region 1: Klickitat County – 1-866-715-3646

Region 3: Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania Counties – 1-888-707-1202

Services Available:

In both Oregon and Washington, after the application process has been completed and a child or adult has been determined as an eligible client for developmental disability services, then comes a personal assessment process to see what kind of services a person or family may access. Depending on the age and abilities of the client, the assessment meeting varies in length and may last many hours. This meeting usually takes place in the client’s home and includes a local Case Manager, the client and his/her parent(s) or legal guardian.

Oregon: Depending on assessment results and the age of the client, funding for the following support services may be available:

  • Respite care for family caregivers
  • Parent/Family Training
  • Help with everyday activities like preparing meals, bathing, feeding and shopping
  • Change to make your home more accessible, including assistive technology
  • Help with behavior challenges
  • Supports in the community
  • Employment supports

In most counties, disability-related nonprofits and family-to-family networks are also available for direct and indirect support.

Washington: There are three main areas of support for ages 3 – 21 available depending upon assessment: Personal Care, Family Support with Respite Care, and Home and Community Based Services. Adult services such as housing, employment, and independent living are also available.

As of December 2016, the WA Developmental Disabilities Administration is actively enrolling individuals to their Individuals and Family Services Waiver (IFS). The IFS waiver helps support families who have a family member with developmental disabilities who is three years of age or older by providing a choice of services to help maintain and stabilize the family unit. 

There is currently funding available for up to 6,500 clients. Families previously declined eligibility are welcome to reapply. Families with a child or adult who were previously assessed as eligible but placed on the No-Paid-Services caseload are urged to contact their local Case Manager to be taken off the waitlist so they may access paid services.

Potential services available may include:

  • Respite Care at home or in the community
  • Nursing Services, including specialized medical equipment and supplies
  • Assistive technology, including environmental and vehicular modifications
  • Community engagement support
  • Supported Parenting Services
  • Peer Mentoring
  • Person-Centered-Planning Facilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy

In Southwest Washington, local Parent Coalitions and disability-related nonprofits are available for direct and indirect support.

As an eligible service isn’t a meaningful service unless clients can utilize it, both Oregon and Washington are currently working to recruit qualified contracted professionals to provide the developmental disabilities services listed above.

In Clark County, Washington this includes a DDA Meet and Greet on January 25th, 2017 for clients, their families, community providers (potential and contracted) and DDA staff.

In conclusion, each state provides a variety of Developmental Disability support services. The process of eligibility, assessment and finding qualified providers to work with does take time so it’s important to get started soon after a diagnosis is received. The time you invest now will hopefully provide positive dividends for your family in the future.

State government resources:  – Oregon Department of Human Services Council on Developmental Disabilities  – Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) Informing Families is a resource provided by the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council, in collaboration with the DDA to offer trusted news and navigation support to individuals and families impacted by I/DD.

This article originally appeared in the print and online Winter 2016 edition of Spectrums Magazine.


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