Helping improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. This marks the 37th anniversary of the Congressional designation of National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and acknowledges the nearly 200,000 people living in North Carolina who have intellectual and other developmental disabilities (I/DD). The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities are dedicated to coming together to address societal barriers so individuals can reach their full potential and be fully included in their communities.

“We are committed to helping people in North Carolina live healthy, independent lives in their communities,” said NCDHHS Director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services, Kelly Crosbie. “People with developmental disabilities and advocates are at the center of our work to ensure everyone has access to health care and community-based services so they can live and thrive in the setting that is the best fit for them.”

People with I/DD can and do live and work independently and productively throughout the state. NCCDD and NCDHHS work tirelessly to ensure people with I/DD have the opportunity to access competitive integrated employment, education, housing, health care and civic engagement.

“We are coming off a critical year during which we were able to work with our partners, both public and private, as well as the individuals we serve, to make significant measurable progress empowering people with intellectual and/or other developmental disabilities by supporting self-advocacy, independence and the right to self-determination,” said NCCDD Executive Director Talley Wells. “We have so much to be thankful for, so much to be proud of, but the truth is, there’s a whole lot of hard work yet to be done. We’re determined to make the most of these opportunities by continuing to face these challenges head on in the year ahead.”

Funding, laws enacted and other initiative milestones in North Carolina during 2023 include:

  • NCDHHS received $180 million in state and federal funds for Innovations Waiver Direct Support Professionals (DSP) and 350 additional Innovations Waiver slots.
  • NCCDD completed its three-year Justice: Release, Reentry and Reintegration initiative which, through the Alliance of Disability Advocates, assisted 234 individuals with I/DD in developing an Individualized Reentry Plan for returning to society after incarceration in a state prison. This initiative has secured two years of additional funding from NCDHHS.
  • Governor Cooper signed the Guardianship Rights Bill into law to promote less restrictive alternatives to guardianship for people with developmental disabilities and others.
  • Medicaid expansion allows thousands of North Carolina’s residents with disabilities to have access to health care. They are among the 600,000 North Carolinians who are newly eligible for life-changing health care services.
  • NCDHHS announced a $10 million investment for Inclusion Works — an initiative to promote competitive integrated employment for people with I/DD.

Looking forward to the remainder of 2024, NCDHHS’ priorities for the developmental disability community include:

  • Expanding access to services to support people with I/DD in the communities where they want to live, work and play. Also, ensuring access to appropriate crisis services, particularly as the state increases these services through new behavioral health funding.
  • Addressing the growing workforce shortage through a variety of methods including increasing DSP rates to at least $18 per hour.
  • Successfully ensuring individuals with I/DD are connected to 1915(i) Medicaid services.
  • Increasing opportunities for individuals with I/DD to work in competitive integrated employment through initiatives such as the Spark project.
  • This week, NCDHHS will be launching Inclusion Connects to ensure people are receiving services while they are on the Innovations Waiver waitlist. Details will be announced later this month.


“Building a diverse, disability-inclusive workforce in North Carolina means hiring people who reflect our communities and have different experiences, perspectives and talents,” said NCDHHS Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services Director Kathie Smith. “We have developed new policies and expanded our service array to ensure people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have opportunities to make informed choices about exploring and engaging in competitive integrated employment in their community.”

For more information, go to The North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities’ website.  For more information about I/DD services at NCDHHS, go to its Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities website. NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services’ also hosts a monthly Direct Support Professional Advisory Committee meeting to discuss strategy and redesign ideas to expand the DSP workforce. If you would like to participate in the Direct Support Professionals Advisory Committee, please register online here.

Search Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority