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Testimony: Developmental Disabilities Reform Act (DDRA)

Monday, December 13, 2010
Mathew W. McCollough, M.P.A, Executive Director Developmental Disabilities Council to Committee on Human Services Councilmember Tommy Wells - Ward 6.

Witness Information

Name: Mathew W. McCollough, M.P.A
Title: Executive Director
Organization: Developmental Disabilities Council
Street Address: 441 4th ST NW Suite 729 North
City/State/Zip: Washington, DC 20001
Work Phone: (202) 727–6744

Committee Information

Committee: Committee on Human Services
Chair: Councilmember Tommy Wells - Ward 6

Subject: Developmental Disabilities Reform Act (DDRA)

December 13, 2010

Good afternoon, Councilmember Wells and other honorable members on the Committee on Human Services. Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. My name is Mathew McCollough. I am the Executive Director of the DC Developmental Disabilities (DD) Council, and I am here to testify in support of the Developmental Disabilities Reform Act (DDRA).

The DD Council is an independent advisory committee funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, and we are charged with identifying the most pressing needs of people with developmental disabilities in the DC community.

You have heard from several community members, self-advocates, and loved ones in support of DDRA. This legislation has an opportunity to produce some unprecedented outcomes for both individuals with disabilities and the District Government. If passed in the new session, DDRA represents the chance for a great number of people with disabilities and their loved ones to access more inclusive services through the Department on Disability Services (DDS). Additionally, DDRA can become an effective piece of legislation for the DC community in three significant areas:

  1. Increased infrastructure of family supports – The National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs ranks DC near the bottom of supporting families of children with disabilities. DDRA speaks to increased infrastructure of family supports. These services are absolutely needed; not only for loved ones of young children, but for aging parents and guardians that do not know how their adult children with disabilities will continue to receive the care once they lose their abilities to do so themselves.
  2. Greater cultural competency and linguistic services needed – People from the Latino, Asian, and African communities consist of a substantial percentage of the District population. Yet, very few individuals with disabilities and families with limited English proficiency receive services through DDS, because the agency does not possess the current capacity or the qualified staff to serve these populations properly. As a result, these families are unintentionally excluded from services. DDRA emphasizes proper transition services; not just for students with disabilities, but for all people with developmental disabilities along the entire aging spectrum from different cultural backgrounds.
  3. Greater capacity to serve the Deaf community ¬– Access to quality services is a similar concern to the Deaf community, as well. The District Government has had a history of past difficulties to properly serving the Deaf population due to lack of capacity and understanding. Under DDRA, DDS can show a greater commitment and leadership by providing quality services that allow Deaf people to be fully independent and work along side with their hearing friends and colleagues in the community.

DDRA serves beneficial to the District Government, because accountability standards are outlined throughout the legislation to ensure that people with disabilities and their family members receive high quality community-based services from DDS staff and service providers. In closing, DDRA is good policy and this legislation presents an opportunity to improve and expand the services provided to people with disabilities and their loved ones while building upon DDS’ own capacities to serve the community.

Thank you very much for your time, commitment, and leadership regarding this significant piece of legislation. I welcome any questions that you may have at this time.