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Administration On
Developmental Disabilities
Fact Sheet


To improve and increase services to and assure that individuals with developmental disabilities have opportunities to make their own choices, contribute to society, have supports to live independently, and are free of abuse, neglect, financial and sexual exploitation and violations of their legal and human rights.

What are developmental disabilities?
Developmental disabilities are severe, life-long disabilities attributable to mental and/or physical impairments which manifest themselves before the age of 22 years and are likely to continue indefinitely. They result in substantial limitations in three or more of the following areas:

  • self-care
  • comprehension and language
  • skills (receptive and expressive language)
  • learning
  • mobility
  • self-direction
  • capacity for independent living
  • economic self-sufficiency
  • ability to function independently without coordinated services (continuous need for individually planned and coordinated services).

Persons with developmental disabilities use individually planned and coordinated services and supports of their choosing (e.g., housing, employment, education, civil and human rights protection, health care)  to live in and to participate in activities in the community.


The major goal of The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) is for grantees to partner with state governments, local communities and the private sector to assist people with developmental disabilities by helping them to reach their maximum potential through increased independence, productivity and integration within the community.

Grants fund activities in eight areas of emphasis:

  • quality assurance
  • education and early intervention
  • child care
  • health
  • employment
  • housing
  • transportation
  • recreation activities.

The Developmental Disabilities Grant Programs are comprised of three state-based programs that collaborate with each other as well as with other entities in their respective States. They are:

  • State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD)
  • State Protection and Advocacy Agencies (P&As)
  • ational Network of University Centers for the Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Services (UCEDD)

A fourth program is directed toward national concerns:

  • Projects of National Significance (PNS)

—In FY 2010, $187 million is available for the Administration on Developmental Disabilities programs.


State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD)
State Councils are federally funded programs charged with  identifying the most pressing needs of people with developmental disabilities in their State or Territory. Councils work to address these needs through systems change and capacity building efforts that promote self-determination, integration and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. Council efforts include:

  • training
  • technical assistance
  • barrier elimination
  • coalition development and citizen participation
  • informing policymakers
  • advocacy, capacity building and systems change
  • demonstration of new approaches to services and supports.

—In FY 2010, $75 million is available to State Councils on Developmental Disabilities.

State Protection and Advocacy Agencies (P&As)
A formula grant is allotted to states based on population, financial need and need for service. The State Protection and Advocacy Systems provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities based on the identification of goals in the areas of emphasis listed in the DD Act based on public input.  The Statements of Goals and Priorities drive the work that is done to include:

  • the protection and advocacy of legal and human rights
  • information and referral
  • investigation of complaints of violation of rights of individuals with developmental disabilities
  • working to resolve complaints through mediation, alternative dispute resolution and litigation

—In FY 2010, $41 million is available to State Protection and Advocacy Systems.

National Network of University Centers for the Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Services (UCEDDs)

This discretionary grant is awarded to public service units of universities or public or not-for-profit entities associated with universities.  The grant is used to support the operation and administration of the center and additional funds are leveraged to implement the core activities of:

  • interdisciplinary training
  • community service (e.g., training, technical assistance, exemplary services)
  • research
  • information dissemination.

The grant is used to support the operation and administration of the center and additional funds are leveraged to implement the core activities. These centers support activities that address various issues from prevention to early intervention to supported employment. They represent a broad range of disabilities. Additional grants may be awarded to UCEDDs to carry out national training and other initiatives. Current training initiatives are funded to support post-secondary education opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and to enhance self-determination skills. There are two grants to UCEDDs to focus on partnerships with minority serving institutions.

—In FY 2010, $39 million is available to UCEDDs

Projects of National Significance (PNS)
PNS funds provide grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements  to public and private, non-profit institutions to create opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to directly and fully contribute to and participate in all facets of community life. Funds are also used to support the development of national and state policies that reinforce and promote, with the support of families, guardians, advocates, and communities if individuals with developmental disabilities, the self-determination, independence, integration and inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities.

These projects focus on current and emerging issues affecting people with developmental disabilities and their families. Some issues transcend state and territory borders but must be addressed on a local level. Examples are:

  • family support activities, to include military families
  • data collection and analysis
  • technical assistance to enhance the State Councils and UCEDD programs
  • programs designed to enhance the participation of minorities in initiatives in developmental disabilities
  • programs to assist youth with developmental disabilities in the transition from school to the work-force and post secondary education opportunities
  • programs to develop self-advocacy and leadership skills among people with developmental disabilities
  • projects that create opportunities for community economic development.

—In FY 2010, $14 million is available to PNS programs.

Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

The Administration on Developmental Disabilities also oversees three disability-related grant programs authorized through HAVA to address the issues related to individuals with the full range of disabilities:

  • access to voting facilities
  • private and independent voting experiences
  • training of poll workers and election volunteers on promoting access and participation
  • providing information and outreach on access to polling places.

ADD administers these programs by:

  • making payments to States and Local Units of Government to improve accessibility and participation in the voting process
  • awarding formula grants to State Protection and Advocacy Systems to assist individuals with disabilities in the voting process
  • making payments to eligible public or private entities to provide training and technical assistance to P&As to assist them in meeting their responsibilities.

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