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Ranking Names Best States For Disability Services


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Arizona came in first in a nationwide ranking of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (Shutterstock)

Arizona came in first in a nationwide ranking of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (Shutterstock)

An annual ranking of states offering the best services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities reveals a familiar but evolving landscape.

The analysis of disability services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia being released Thursday by United Cerebral Palsy finds top performers spanning the map. In previous years, the best services were largely clustered in the Northeast and West.

Arizona claimed the number one slot in the ranking for the third year in a row. Also rounding out the 10 best on this year’s list are Michigan, Hawaii, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio and Missouri.

The analysis factors each state’s approach to promoting independence and productivity, ensuring quality and safety, keeping families together and reaching people in need.

Nationally, almost 317,000 people remain on waiting lists for home and community-based services, according to the report, which is largely based on data from 2012, the most recent year available.

Some 38 states serve at least 80 percent of people with developmental disabilities in the community. Meanwhile, just 10 states have one-third or more of their residents with developmental disabilities working in competitive employment, the report found.

As in past years, top-tier services were found in both big and small states, those with rich and poor demographics, jurisdictions with high and low taxes as well as those with varying levels of per-person spending on disability services.

The report flags Arkansas, Illinois, Texas and Mississippi — which ranked last for the eighth year in a row — for repeatedly coming in at or near the bottom of the list.

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Comments (68 Responses)

  1. InMaryland says:

    I’m a 45 year old who has been living with a serious medical condition for 33 years. I also have depression and bi-polar. I have lived in a couple of places and in Maryland for the past 5 years. What I have witnessed here in regards to health care, supportive services, therapy, counseling, case management, nutrition support, etc is outstanding. I read through many of the comments and wanted to let others know if your medical and supportive needs are not being met in the state you currently reside in, I give a very high recommendation for the State of Maryland. And I wish everyone the very best of success in their search for adequate services.

  2. Esther says:

    I have been looking into GA because it was dated #4. I have looked online I can’t confirm yet but I have found several links for daycare centers for the disabled. My son is 12. Is there any positive things in GA? I am in Il we have nothing!!!!

  3. Melissa says:

    Esther, I have lived in GA for 14 years with my severely disabled daughter. I’m not sure where in GA you have been looking but I can tell you that where I am at there is NOTHING. We are looking into moving so that we can get services for my daughter (who is 14 right now). We got lucky to find a great medical supply company that is only 45 minutes away (and will deliver to us the same day if we need it) but there are no therapists in our area. My daughter needs PT, OT, and SLP but we have to drive at least 2 hours each way to get it. We have to drive at least an hour and a half to see specialists but even some of those are mediocre at best.

  4. Renee says:

    I am in NY. I have a son who is autistic and is 21. Services here in NY are top notch! Because of this my son graduated high school and is in college. Dr’s told us they weren’t sure he would ever speak!

  5. Karen Richrdson says:

    I will agree that AZ is very good at providing services as far as transportation and social activities, but I would put them dead last in the area of providing home care services! The fact that people had to sue for diapers is appalling! Simply appalling! I came into this state from PA where I wanted for nothing! However, I’d rank PA dead last in the areas of trans. and social activities! So, it’s a toss up!

  6. Arizona mom says:

    Totally agree with you Karen R.
    I cannot fathom who ranked AZ as number 1! A lot of passing the buck here in AZ and spinning your wheels. I have been straight up told by behavioral health that there is just no services for kids on the ASD spectrum. Yet we here all this ranting and reviving about early intervention. My private insurance has paid for 95% of therapies and services.

  7. StressedSister says:

    I have a 26 year old sister who was born with a cognitive disorder. She has microcephaly and has many cognitive and physical delays. We are originally from Michigan. Services in Michigan were WONDERFUL. I guess we were very spoiled and didn’t realize it wasn’t like that all over the country. I moved to Texas, to get away from the cold..and my mother and younger sister soon followed me to Texas. Texas is the TOTAL OPPOSITE. It’s horrible how they treat my sister. She can’t hardly get any services and we even have a hard time getting medical treatment for her. It has been such an uphill battle. Although I love my job here-I am considering moving for the sake of my sister’s health. This list has been very helpful! Thank you for writing it. It helps me to make a informed decision. My mother is already disabled, herself due to a car accident. So, I don’t want her having unnecessary stress on her. Thank you, again, for this article. :)

  8. Zoraida says:

    Renee where in NY do you live? I live in Florida and here eventhough we do have services it is very difficult to come by. There are no programs for the children who have become adults. After HS there is nothing here for them. I was planning on going back to NY where I am from. I have 2 developmental disabled daughters who are also autistic.

  9. inAZandregret it says:

    I have a hard time believing this post, I currently live in a AZ with a disabled child and can not get her services. The paperwork is massive, in the meantime while everything is “pending” we either have to pay out of pocket or forego things she needs all together, and the local department of economic services plays these games with anyone requesting services. In the next year more of our services will be cut, so even if I “win” my pending cases, my services will be cut anyways. In fact at her school most of the children receive services from other places because they are also being denied by DES. I know in richer cities it’s easier, but for the rest of us the outlook is sad.

  10. Deb Klejeski says:

    Hi, I have considered moving my son and I out of MN after I retire and am considering Florida or Arizona. He is 39 living in a GH and want to know can I seek positive- above average services for him else where even if he was not born into that State. He has been diagnosed with Joubert’s Syndrome- Brown’s Syndrome- is non verbal and has aggression (the worst of his difficulties), but very loving. Mentally he has been tested and ranks around 2 years old mentally with splintered skills but needs 24/7 care. Does any one know would I be placing him at risk for change.


  11. kathy says:

    Our daughter is deaf and developmentally delayed. We currently live in NE Indiana. My husband is military disabled. We are looking to move where it would be beneficial for our daughter. Any ideas? She is 12 now we are just looking for something better for her.

  12. Jay Nelson says:

    South Carolina??? This is listed above as a ‘good’ state for disabilities and benefits. It is one of the WORST states for any benefits, especially housing! Do NOT move there for any help with anything at all. The state is BROKE and can’t feed its own.

  13. squidagain says:

    I live in the bay area and have a four yr old with multiple disabilities who requires round the clock care. I believe we have wonderful services (IHSS, SSI, respite care) with a wonderful hospital (Stanford)….but things are disintegrating rapidly due to the outrageous cost of living. !?average home prices have topped out manhattan!? There has been a huge departure of really wonderful doctors, case workers, respite nurses etc. So while California may be a great place for what it offers its all kind of beginning to crack.

  14. tony says:

    We live overseas and are moving back to the States. We have a 28 year old daughter with Dravet’s Syndrome and is also battling cancer.

    Luckily we have the option of living in any city or state.

    From what I read on these blogs. New York state appears to be the best for young adults.

    Thoughts/comments/ suggestions

  15. Greta W says:

    Our family is considering moving from Iowa (not high on the list above, but which provides good educational and vocational services.) Our daughter is post high school and attends a community-based day habilitation program because she is unable to participate in the “competitive” workforce. Any suggestions for relocation options, or warnings against specific areas?

  16. Iowa Hawkeye says:

    I am in the same boat as Greta W. and want to leave Iowa after my daughter graduated in two years. Sadly… I’ve found or heard most states have waiting lists (some for years) and I can’t afford to wait months let alone years for placement with my daughter’s health. AZ is one of the few that doesn’t I don’t believe. Although IA isn’t horrible( its not great either) I really would like to get out of the snow and cold. Unfortunately I think every state has room for improvement but with all the cuts and changes in most states I don’t think this will improve but only get worse for services provided. We need to stop accepting this and pay attention to who we are electing. So I’m looking for a place that is affordable with activities for special needs young adults and services…with a warm climate. I may be dreamong sadly.

  17. Penny Boyle says:

    this was a very interesting article and I think it is misleading in some parts. I don’t think you can generalize and say that one state is better than the next when it comes to services. I live in Illinois, ranked last for the eight years in a row, and when it comes to school and community we live in a wonderful place. Now in regards to state funds and support we don’t get much. We live in the west suburbs of Chicago and I know that the services in school and in our county is not was it available in other parts of our state. I have an 18 year old daughter with cognitive disability.

  18. LeeMom says:

    Great article! Very interesting!!! My son has cerebral palsy, non verbal, other medical needs and uses a wheelchair. We live in GA. The only thing that is nice here is the help we get for his medical needs as far as equipment, going to the doctor, therapy ( haven’t had a good therapist yet), and things of that nature. Being a divorced single mom there are no daycare centers for him to go to so I can actually work a normal job and the cost of living is too high to me personally for a single parent. Living in the Metro Area of Atlanta there is only a few counties that are safe and decent enough to live alone and raise my disabled son ( those same counties have a better school system than others..I’ve been bless for him to have a variety of good people in the school system…. so no complaints yet). The only children’s hospitals and good doctors are within city limits. Which means if you don’t live in city limits you will have to drive. There is always a waiting list to see my son’s doctor especially his neurologist!!! I have to wait 3 months before I can make an appointment and having so much on my plate I tend to forget and need reminders. The reason for this is because many doctors in this area is turning down patients who receive medicaid (ssi). As far as that there is nothing here!!!! I want to move to another state where I can put him in day care for special needs medical fragile kids so I can work with affordable rent.Does anyone know any places for single divorce moms? Georgia is ok for those who have a spouse or someone to help them that they are close to but if your in need of other things….Georgia isn’t the best! The children’s hospital Egleston is awesome…they take really good care of my son. I want my independence back!!! My son’s father was injured in the military, so he isn’t much help to us!!! If anyone knows a good state for a mom like me could you please post something. Please do a detail search on your needs if your thinking about moving to Georgia!

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