Print Print

States Get Ranked On Disability Services


Text Size  A  A

Arizona is the place to be when it comes to services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to a new national ranking.

The listing is part of a report set to be released Thursday by United Cerebral Palsy, which ranks disability services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Specifically, the advocacy organization weighed each state’s track record in promoting independence and productivity, ensuring quality and safety, keeping families together and reaching people in need.

In addition to Arizona, the highest ranked states were New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont and California.

Top performing states were largely clustered in the Northeast and on the West Coast. As in past years, the standouts represented both big and small states as well as those with high and low tax burdens. What’s more, the amount they spent to provide community supports for individuals with disabilities varied.

Mississippi was ranked last for the seventh straight year. Arkansas, Texas, Illinois and Virginia filled out the bottom five.

The report — which is produced annually — is largely based on data from 2011, the most recent available.

States are increasingly shifting to a focus on supports within the community, the analysis found. Currently, 38 states indicate that at least 80 percent of residents with developmental disabilities that they serve live in the community. These same states also devote at least 80 percent of their resources designated for this population toward community supports. That’s up from 14 states in 2007.

While some states outshined others the report authors caution that there’s work to do nationwide. Fewer than a third of those with developmental disabilities are employed competitively in the vast majority of states. And, waiting lists for residential services remain high, with 268,000 people in limbo compared to 138,000 in 2007, the report indicates.

More in Living »

Search Jobs

Post a Comment

Disability Scoop welcomes comments, though only a selection are published. In determining which comments will appear beneath a story, we look for submissions that are thoughtful and add new ideas or perspective to the issues addressed within the story. Please keep your remarks brief and refrain from inserting links.

Comments (47 Responses)

  1. Samantha says:

    Interesting study. I wish it focused on physical accessibility and services for individual with disabilities other than developmental.

  2. Rayn says:

    I’m familiar with how Washington State, Oregon and California perform in the area of disabilities and I must say Washington State did a much better job for Autism than the others. California, in my opinion, does not provide adequate services or support even in metropolitan cites. I think the title of this story is misleading and perhaps should only mention those with Cerebral Palsy, rather than All disabilities.

  3. MsAmericanPatriot says:

    I am NOT surprised that my state is near the bottom. That is North Carolina for ya. Keep ya in the closet.

  4. Sally S. says:

    If the rankings are based on the reported “Overall Ranking” as found on each state’s site, it seems Oregon ranks 22nd this year, and consistently is in that mid-range. What am I missing??

  5. Lana says:

    Does anyone know which state provides group home to the person with mental disability without too much difficulties? Here in DE, people have been waiting for 20 years and still can’t get one.

  6. Scott says:

    Let me start with I do not have any details other than the televison news report I remember seeing…recently. It reported that Arizona was busing indivduals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to California and leaving them at the bus station. California had filed a lawsuit.

  7. L. Hicks says:

    Hi, where could this list be found? I am curious where Georgia ranked? Thanks, Lisa

  8. Martha Brightwell says:

    Shock best describes my reaction when I read the UCP report on Friday. A provider in Arizona for sixteen years, we have watched support of individuals and their families decrease steadily. We still have over a hundred people in our remaining institution for people with disabilities. Our legislature has decreased funding several times since the recent national budget crisis began and has not felt it necessary to rescind the cuts even though the state has rebounded fiscally with exuberance. And we are painfully aware of individuals who are considered “receiving services” while in reality they are on a list of people who have been assigned a support coordinator who annually meets with them to let them know they still cannot receive services. To those of us who continue to support individuals and families in these dire times, it is somewhat alarming that Arizona is “setting the bar.” I believe we might recommend careful thought before moving to Arizona hoping to better your situation.

  9. Susan says:

    L. Hicks, just click on the hyperlink in the 2nd paragraph where it says “report” and it will take you to the report. Georgia ranks 21st.

  10. Barbara says:

    If you click on the word “report” in blue in the second paragraph of this story, it is a link to the UCP website’s page that has the report.

  11. jrn says:

    i have worked in the field of ID/DD now for almost 19 yrs. because of the graying of America, a lot of the senior population, no matter what their developmental level, are in dire straits – needed services are not available, services that are available cost a lot of money, and the care being given is sometimes at the hands of those who are not patient, & don’t belong near vulnerable folks. institution has become a dirty word- so people are moved into the community, still not truly part of a neightborhood, and are left awaiting help that might not come. i think communal living for seniors with ID/DD, provided by screened & knowledgeable people, where there are many eyes to observe/report trouble, is not all that awful, & should be looked at. what we have now doesn’t work so well in many situations

  12. David Stupay says:

    Sad to see Illinois still in the bottom five.

  13. Kathleen says:

    Not sure about the facts and rankings, but I am concern that some people think that having institutions are a bad thing. My son is in a regional center and I sleep at night knowing he is in a all-inclusive community of very medically fragile and behaviorally challenge folks. One size shoe does not fit all. If you are happy with the home or local community setting, that’s great. Don’t knock the institution! It is the best place for my sweet little man and many others.

  14. Rose says:

    There is a similar report that is based upon studies at the University of Colorado I believe in Colorado Springs called “The state of the states on developmental disability” that is published if not every year then every other year. In that report you can track the amount of money, the sourcs of the money, being spent on what services e.g., community support, supported living, family supports etc., and the number of individuals served over a period of time so you can see if there has been any improvements in the legislation and budgets. It can be difficult to read but the information is solid.

  15. Cindi G says:

    My 23-year-old son with severe autism and moderate ID lives in an adult group home under the waiver in Virginia — which means he is one of the lucky ones; there are thousands in my state who have been on waiver waiting lists for many many years; they live with their elderly parent(s) or in a state-run institution and are sequestered from society.
    Va. has always ranked near the bottom in the annual State of the States report which tallies money spent on community services with individuals with ID; paradoxically, Va. is one of the wealthiest states. Va.. (based on its annual bottom of the list ranking) clearly and without question has no “use” for individuals who are not perceived as “economically contributing members of our society.”
    So, the U.S. Dept. of Justice filed suit against Va. forcing the state to provide community services to individuals with ID. Now, the institutions are being closed down and I’m holding my breath, in fear, that Va. will “dump” these individuals into large group homes (mini-institutions because of high numbers of residents with low ratio of caregivers–who are underpaid, underskilled, underqualified, unwatched) to care for these vulnerable individuals, and truly integrate them into their community.
    Video surveillance is used in some group homes in the U.S. in common areas so concerned family members, guardians, supervisors, can check in on residents 24-7; some residential providers are against this claiming invasion of privacy — human rights — etc. But, as my son’s legal guardian, I place his and the others’ safety and well-being above any perceived invasion of privacy in the common areas. I would love to hear from others who are having success with their adult childrens’ employment.

  16. Dot B says:

    I agree with Martha Brightwell. Don’t automatically pack up and move to Arizona. My family had to move our 28 year old son, a person with severe developmental delay, autism, a seizure disorder and a chromosomal difference, for services in another state (Oregon) when the Great Recession hit and the budget cuts came.

    Our son received additional money from Social Security when my husband retired, causing him to make only $24 too much for the Medicaid requirements. His medical bills are over $600/month. He would have qualified for services if AZ had not suspended their “spend-down” program, which deducts a person’s medical bills from their total income, enabling many to still qualify for Medicaid and social services. Oregon still has a type of “spend-down” program.

    In all fairness, however, Arizona did do a better job providing a day program for our son. He still does not have one here in Oregon. Also, we were pretty happy with the special needs school he went to in elementary school and high school there.

    Here in Oregon, though, he lives in his own duplex unit and has staff come in 24 hrs. a day to help him with daily living skills. We live next door and can be on call and get to see that he is doing well. I don’t think a living situation like this would have been possible in Arizona.

  17. Sharon Shurley says:

    I live in Oklahoma and in the last 20 years or so, we have closed one institution after another which has left many people living on the streets. Hundreds, if not more, mentally challenged people were put on the streets when our institutions were closed. Their families, if they had any, did not want them in their homes. There was no safety net for these people. Instead of closing the institutions, they should have corrected the problems to the best of their ability and then monitor them to make certain they were safe.

  18. Lula Naylor says:

    I whole heartedly agree with Kathleen and jrn. My 48 year old son has been in an ID/DD institution in Louisiana for almost 45 years. He is mentally retarded and is quadriplegic. He received very high quality care in this Medicaid-licensed residential institution. He requires 24 hour a day care by a minimum of 2 people. He and all the residents are far from having been put away and forgotten. They all enjoy outings off the beautiful grounds and have all sorts of social events on the grounds. They are taken all over the state to various functions, ie, zoos, restaurants and festivals. Also my other 2 adult children, grandchildren and I visit him often. I pray everyday that our state and federal governments continue to fund our institution. Not all can survive well in group homes or individual living arrangements. Many of us are aging parents and want to know that our loved one(s) will be well taken care of.

  19. MJ says:

    Would like to know what this study looked at. We just had a family move back to Ohio from Arizona, because there were absolutely NO SERVICES available at all for their adult son with cognative disabilities. Even the last few years of his schooling, the government stuck him in a school for people with blindness, because they had no school that was appropriate for him. He is not blind. Looks like the authors of this study might be though.

  20. ASD mom says:

    I dont think this accurately describes services for Autism. While MS ranks last, My son was diagnosed at 3, started school at 3 12 (he was non verbal & in sp ed.) at age of 6 we transferred him from a sp ed K to an inclusion K. I have never been denied anything. I recieved disability ( he was Severe ASD) on the first try, insurance on the first try. he recieves therapies, etc. The only service that the state wouldnt pay for was ABA. Even getting him into school for the first time was simple. I think this only represents homes or other ID.

  21. helen says:

    I live in Michigan and the quality of care here is very poor. His so called therapist supplies the ABA therapy he needs but which I’ve yet to see. He currently lives in a self determined home because of his violent nature (he is autistic and bipolar). I feel if he would have had more therapy, help when he did go to school, things wouldn’t be like they are now and he would still live at home with me. Instead he lives in a home and doesn’t go anywhere unless I his mother or family take him out.

  22. Abby Doodle says:

    Arizona is also one of the top states taking children away from their parents. To the point of alarming state legislators who have held emergency meetings on how to deal with the problem. It seems Arizona CPS takes handicapped chidren away and puts them in state housing —-so I really can’t believe their reports. They have done this to over 6,000 children in the last several years per a news article written about the region.

  23. patty says:

    I have twin 19 year old girls with cerebral palsy. One is physically challenged and in a wheelchair and the other is legally blind with a learning disability and Intellectual impairment.. ALL I CAN SAY IS DONT MOVE TO CONNECTICUT! it has to be the worst state for disabilities and any kind of services either from schools or state. The waiting list for waivers is impossible and anything else is a waste of time.. I have to say having two with disabilities was always hard but it wasnt them that made it difficult it was advocating for everything they rightfully deserved under IDEA and the ignorant people in CT that make it difficult..

  24. Ceci says:

    I live in Arkansas and my 2.5 yr old is a nonverbal autistic with Epilepsy and ID. She was approved for disability in only 3 months and goes to therapy four days a week (OT, ST, PT, & EI), which we have never had to pay a dime for. She receives TEFRA, so for a small monthly premium all her therapies and medical expenses not covered by Blue Cross are covered 100% by TEFRA. Thus far I have been completely satisfied with the quality of care she is receiving.

  25. cara hilbig says:

    I work for a company which provides Services in NY. I have never been to another state but all I can say is we rock! I work in a day skills program prepping individuals with developmental disabilities for their future employment. The emphasis on person centered planning ensures that we come to understand many different types of abilities through the provision of services directed by the individual. We can accommodate many different types of learning. I am proud of NY for what we are providing, but we have people waiting for services as well and we are continuously threatened with budget cuts and changes.

  26. Harry says:

    UCP and its researchers are definitely biased toward community-based residential care. These UCP annual studies just reaffirm what UCP wants to happen. Also, “The ARC” is strongly against Intermediate Care Facilities for more fragile folks with Intellectual Disabilities (ID), however, I never see The ARC coming out to say how they support these studies… they stay in the shadows. I have been actively aware of The ARC’s client base for years… They are, on average, much more able to function in society. So, UCP, The ARC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), support many community providers who stand to make money on community based care. This then strengthens these non-profit Associations. They want the funding taken from more severely disabled residents to support those who can often work and live on their own. They understand it will be so inefficient that there will be many piggies at the public trough. Additionally, these studies are largely funded by The Department of Health who couples with the DOJ to violate the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision that provides for freedom of choice. Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF-ID) provide that choice for more severely affected residents. If your adult child resides in an ICF-ID, with Intellectual disabilities, and possibly cerebral palsy, don’t let the UCP’s good reputation for cerebral palsy education & research mislead you into thinking their annual study supports your child… It doesn’t.

  27. Maggibea says:

    I have lived in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Arizona with my DD child. All three of the programs we were in were completely diffierent, but they were all outstanding due to the teachers and aides involved and their dedication.I am so glad that we left Columbus, GA. He graduated in PA in a school to work program and now has two part time jobs. I am afraid to move and leave these jobs. If you have not moved around, you may not realize that the statistics they collect are tied to Medicaid services, and if your child is not receiving Medicaid, he may not be eligible for service. My child’s father died in 2007 and immediately Social Security changed him to Medicare. He is no longer eligible for Medicaid. If you have two parents, no matter what they earn, you can still be on Medicaid…receive a new pair of glasses each year and shots and tests required for Special Olympics. It does not make sense. However, PA is tenth on the list and GA is twentieth. As an older single parent without resources or family support, I am worried about the future of my son who deserves more than a nursing home or shoddily run group home. As an RN, I have visited these facilities on many occasions and there are good and bad.I fear the worst as government funds continue to be cut for the disabled and the elderly. What will be the answer? This is a population that is not able to speak for themselves and we cannot expect our government to do what is right.

  28. Kristi says:

    Parkhill shool district in Kansas City, Missouri is AMAZING!!

  29. Jacki says:

    I disagree with California being a top state for people with disabilities. For one, back in 2011, Autism Speaks reported California as one of the worst. Not much as changed. California is unique in that it has 21 Regional Centers that are governed by Department of Developmental Disabilities. These Regional Centers have 15 people working on the same issue, a total waste of time and money. Millions are lost within Regional Centers every year because they hire too many people who sit around and do nothing. This has affected services for families who need help. It’s time to downsize California’s Regional Center to make them more efficient. California should be the LEADER in providing optimum services for people with developmental disabilities.

  30. leeann says:

    My son is 28 and has traumatic brain injury and I currently live in Minnesota and He has a lot of services here but the job support is changing. I’m currently looking at selling my home to move back home to Salt Lake City Utah and I also have my elderly Mom that does a day program here in Minnesota so I would like to know if anyone has a clue of what I could be faced with moving to Utah for disability and elderly services.

  31. Krishna K says:

    We have 6 year old CP hemiplegic son (can walk with support of another individual or wall etc.,) with normal IQ (IQ is 95). From what we have seen, his memory, his ability to learn all of that is very good. He is finishing his Kindergarten this year and is ready to move into first standard. We are thinking of moving to the United States and were looking at the state that has better inclusive education as well as allows integrated therapies (he needs primarily PT, OT and Speech Therapy). We are advised not to put the child in special schools by the child psychologist. Can anybody advise based on their experience which state can accommodate these needs best? Our focus is primarily on getting him educated in the most inclusive environment so that he can reach an independent stage of living, since his cognitive abilities are quite on part with other normal children.

  32. Gene says:

    If Arizona is thought to be a leader of states to implement help for the disabled why does your submission
    by Scott made in May state that Arizona is busing individuals with intellectual disabilities to California
    and leaving them there to fend for themselves. My observations would not place California in fifth place
    or Arizona in first place. Our government has chosen to ignore the generation that fought for our rights
    and liberties and lied to all of us about Obamma Care and mandatory health insurance that will be
    bailed out just like the banks, Chrysler and all the other failed corporations that fail to compete with
    the world. Big Government is Bloated, unruly and unaccountable to people that built this nation.
    Yes we Americans built this nation and schools were taught in churches during the Westward Movement.
    Bible reading was a part of education and prayers were made at the beginning of Congress sessions.

  33. Jeanette says:

    No shock that Oregon, Washington and California are the poorest states in the Union. Uncontrolled spending. I’m all for helping those that need it, but this is out of hand. Unfortunately, there will be those that take advantage…

  34. jacqueline says:

    People have no compassion in Oregon. I have begged for help. I have worked all my life. No one cares here.

  35. Lia says:

    My son is in transition, he is 18. IDEA allows for my son to stay with in the district till age 21. The district must provide program according to family goals. We are looking for scholarships and schools he can attend to receive: 1) vocational skills in health field 2) continue receiving education for college preparation and 3) independent life skills. Would love to hear from others on best recommendations with in the country or outside where we can accomplish our goals. I am ready to move whereever it takes for my son to succeed. Please, please email me….Thank you

  36. Frank says:


  37. Samantha says:

    I have a teen with Autism, bipolar and Tourette’s. We live in Oregon. He is only 16 and it took me from the time he was three until he was nearly 15 fighting to get him qualified for Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS). He has only had DDS available to him for a year and a half and he has already “exhausted DDS resources.” We have been directed to seek out DHS emergency and crisis assistance as he needs more care than home or foster are can provide. I am told in order to do this I must give up my guardianship and hand it over to the state. I have seen 1st hand as a previous DHS foster parent what that entails, and I think that kind of help should be illegal. They lied to the preteens in my care. They even lied to me and my husband. Opinions of right and wrong changed with each caseworker and the caseworkers changed more than my toddlers change their clothes each day.

  38. Help says:


  39. Observer says:

    I am totally not surprised that Illinois continues to be at the bottom! Not only is Illinois politically destroyed and beyond repair, but there is practically no love amongst neighbors in Illinois! Virtually nobody loves their neighbors, nobody ever loves people with disabilities, Illinoisans are known to call the police on autistic people as if they (the autistic person) were some kind of wanted axe murderer, from my point of view, Illinois neglects the needs of people with disabilities on purpose!

  40. Bessy says:

    UCP should be more concerned with their services and the poor quality of care that they provide for children with disabilities. UCP have a good public appearance and they sell parents a good story but it is all frosting and no cake. They need to really improve their quality of services before addressing other problems. I am sorry to criticize UCP but I have to talk up even when everyone chooses to ignore the facts. UCP needs a lot of help toward providing adequate help for children with special needs. SORRY.

  41. Patrick Kane says:

    My wife and I have three kids, one of whom has severe cerebral palsy with epilepsy and CVI. We currently live in Illinois and receive Medicaid and a small number of hours each month for a home healthcare worker to help us get her on and off the bus and watch her when we must go to meetings. Illinois is terrible at services, but we qualified due to a small loophole in the laws here which allowed us to bypass the usual waiting/lottery type list they have here.
    I am now set to retire and our daughter is only 7. We want to move to Arizona, but are afraid to give up Medicaid in Illinois and start the application process there: frankly, we’re afraid our daughter will go without services and we’ll be placed on a waiting list like they have here.
    Does anyone have any suggestions on what we might be able to do to speed things along, or have experience in this area with Arizona?
    Feel free to respond to me directly at
    Thank you!

  42. Jacquelin says:

    California in my opinion (I haven’t been to the rest) is horrible! We have to fight tooth and nail for any services what so ever. Both my son’s doctor and teacher said he needed services and the school still fights. We have had students wander away during class, we have aides scream at the students, and we have over crowding in our class rooms. We live in a semi-nice neighborhood and near a big city and we still don’t get good services. My older son was having so many problems I finally had to pull him out and home school him, he’s doing much better now.

  43. Kristine says:

    I have a 26-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy and we have lived in northern New Jersey since 1998. She was in an inclusive setting in grade school, which worked well. When she was13 the school district payed for her to go to a wonderful special school for the disabled. When she turned 21, I enrolled her in New Jersey’s Self Directed Day Service program, which pays for her to go to a daily adult workshop which she loves. This program also pays for her wheelchair dancing classes and her Saturday swim class. They keep telling me to find more things for her to do, because I’m only using up a fraction of her budget. The state also pays me as a part-time employee to care for her, through another program. All of this is provided without a waiver. My daughter has been on the Medicaid waiver waiting list since she was 18, for residential placement. I don’t expect her to get a placement until my husband and I are dead. That’s the down side of being in New Jersey.

  44. Dan says:

    You are forgetting to factor in how many services are denied to the most needy severely- disabled. It’s easy for states to provide a few services to the mildly disabled, but what about the more severe cases that continually are forced to go to Office of Administrative Hearings to get the services they need? The more severe the disabilities, the more the state agencies will fight the families for home supports and force them into out of home placements

  45. Steve says:

    After being a disable crime victim in Michigan and having them use my disability to refuse to help me.

    I say from experience that Michigan is the worst state.

    Now they cut my benefits by 60%, Michigan does not help disable people.

  46. LWebb says:

    I can verify how horrible Arkansas is. Availability of ABA providers was non-existent when my son was diagnosed. It took two years for our area to get one ABA and we had to pay out of pocket because the state paid nothing for it. During the years he received OT, ST and PT under TEFRA, the state funded preschool my son attended was atrocious. He was physically abused by one of his teachers and ultimately terminated by DHS. The preschool, a special needs preschool, no less, has sense stopped taking on children with autism who are non-verbal. The only problem is that specialized schools for autism are pricey and unless you have waiver, you’ll be paying out of pocket for it. As for the public school systems….that is a joke altogether. They don’t follow IDEA even after a lawsuit is brought. They do not have adequate services within the school districts themselves and refuse to place out of district and fund for the student….that is, if the servies are even available in your area. Professionals are limited and wait lists are usually lengthy. While I love my home state, I do not love its attitude toward special education. States like Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York make Arkansas look like a third world country in comparison. You can’t even draw a comparison, especially at the public school level. Doesn’t even compute. When I lived there, I shelled out the dough for my son to attend the first (and only) autism school in our area. He was their first student. Were it not for those ladies, he simply would not be where he is today. If you get lucky enough to have a decent therapist and the state actually approves a sufficient amount of hours for therapy, you could get lucky and be satisified with that. However, in our case, my son made zero progress in two years time. Not only is that unacceptable, it’s against the law. In hindsight, I wish I had been better educated about the ins and outs of it all because they certainly do not make an effort to make sure you know your child’s rights.

  47. mary annie says:

    Minnesota has to be at the very bottom. We have tried for over 8 months for services for our severely mentally ill adult son. We moved from California to Minnesota because of employment. Shame on St. Louis County for providing no services. A judge told my friend that only 20% of persons needing services receive them. What do the other 80% do? The crisis team will only respond when there threats of homicide, suicide or unable to care for themselves. One social worker told us to put him on street. They say there is no money but there are plenty of social workers collecting fat checks in the backs of the disabled.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Disability Scoop, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Reprints and Permissions