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Ranking Names Best States For Disability Services

By Michelle Diament | April 17, 2014
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.


41 Comments (Open | Close)

41 Comments To "Ranking Names Best States For Disability Services"

#1 Comment By Sunrise Community On April 18, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

HOW did Georgia make this list when they have a moratorium on moving people OUT of state institutions??

#2 Comment By SArah Fields On April 18, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

can you provide a link that works or attach the list for the above analysis?

#3 Comment By norm kolody On April 18, 2014 @ 3:20 pm

Texas,Arkansas and Miss.on the bottom of the list.What a shock.

#4 Comment By Denise Gallagher On April 18, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

I would like to know the criteria that United Cerebral Palsy used to determine the order of states in this list. What factors did they look at?

#5 Comment By L.N.P. On April 18, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

The state of Georgia is by far one of the worst places to rehabilitate an individual with disabilities. Not only, the majority of meaningful services, if not all, are located in the Atlanta area and immediate surrounding areas (leaving the rest of the state in pure neglect, poverty and ignorance), there is no legal help for those who needed, unless you are a person with the “right” connections, rich, and powerful, which these are not the descriptions of the common people. The bureaucracy of governmental agencies is plagued of corruption, and the environment for advocacy is none since there are no real protections for advocates (if you try to speak out about a problem, be sure that you will be harass until they silent you). I will like to see if, the federal government is going to take a deeper look at this corrupt state to help those in need, which are many out there.

#6 Comment By Genesis On April 18, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

I’m not surprised with Illinois…. I’m not even surprised one bit.

#7 Comment By Amanda Stufflebeam On April 18, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

My daughter was approved for services in SC and was 8000 on a waiting list that drops about 300 people a year. Now that we are in Ohio she was denied service all together based on functioning just above third grade. This list must only take in account the people being served because if it is not then there is no hope for anyone anywhere.

#8 Comment By Want to know more On April 18, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

I am a parent with a child on a DD waiver with fairly good benefits. However, my husband can’t stand our state and I hesitate to move else we give up our benefits. But I feel trapped because of them. I’d like to know about the ability to take your current eligibility along with you to another state or at least a study of how long the waiting lists are if we do give up what we have. I’d love to hear more about this topic or where to go for more information. Thanks for all the important topics you cover for us! You are appreciated.

#9 Comment By Reality On April 18, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

UCP considers Georgia one of the best states in the country for disability services. Really? Georgia, the state with the moratorium on the required transfer of people from facility based care, and the state that the independent reviewer in a March, 2014 report stated there is an “urgent need to ensure competent and sufficient health practitioner oversight of individuals who are medically fragile and require assistance with most aspects of their daily lives.” Georgia, the state where at least 2 individuals died shortly after their required transfer from their facility based care. One can only wonder if this is the best, what does the worst look like. UCP should be ashamed of themselves for such a misleading and incomplete ranking.

#10 Comment By Marti On April 18, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

This really surprises me since my 5 year old autistic granddaughter cannot even find a daycare that will accept her in Apache Junction! Thank God she will be starting school soon and hopefully will qualify for before/after school childcare so her single mom can continue to work to provide for her!

#11 Comment By Lisa On April 19, 2014 @ 12:11 am

Ga. What a joke. Someone must have sent in the wrong numbers.

#12 Comment By jane On April 19, 2014 @ 7:40 am

OHIO DID NOT extend Medicare which is devastating to those disabled folks on the two year wait list for Medicare. Any state that took this fiscally irresponsible and cruel partisan path should be IMMEDIATELY removed from this otherwise good news

#13 Comment By Sherry Sullivan On April 19, 2014 @ 10:39 am

How does someone move a developmentally disabled individual from one state to another? We live with a 31 year old son in the state of Illinois which has No help or programs for him. Although all the politicians voted to give themselves a raise, they cut services and benefits (if you want to call them that). I can’t move, but how could I move my son? What are the steps? Anyone done this? I would rather miss him than to know he won’t have any services if I wasn’t around (dead).

#14 Comment By Elllen Collins On April 19, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

I could not agree more with the accurate email describing GA submitted by L.N.P. ………..how the heck did they get the rating they got? I have served many years on the Regional Planning Board for MHDDAD and know FIRSTHAND of the injuries, deaths and lack of concern by the state leadership. If you speak up you will be harassed!! Georgia is full of corruption by BIG NAME PROVIDERS who get by with injuries and deaths of our loved ones and NOTHING is done by the state system!!

#15 Comment By Jennie On April 19, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

Washington’s employment first policy has been a great success for those with mild disabilities but the more severely disabled spend most of their time in isolation. The belief that your value is derived from whether or not you work is discriminatory.

#16 Comment By PamB On April 20, 2014 @ 3:48 am

I cant believe the state i was born in, chose to raise my kids in, and just happens to be the largest state within the continental US repeatedly shows up on the WORST list. SHAME ON YOU TEXAS!!!! Get with the program and take care of business!

#17 Comment By Specialneedsadvocate On April 20, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

Missouri? You have GOT to be kidding me!!!!! Services here SUCK!!!!!

#18 Comment By Edith On April 20, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

This list can not be accurate…the service providers in Michigan suck!!! Every governmental entity is paying their friends to setup nonprofits to funnel tax dollars through to pay each other! It’s a huge scandal that the Office of Inspector General and Department of Justice refuse to investigate!!! When a family cannot receive support services, you receive a letter advising of your right to request a Fair Medicaid Hearing that the judge dismisses by mail before you can obtain a hearing date! Disability Rights organizations are aware of the lack of check and balances with MDE, MDCH and the MAHS but they all exchange money between the systems so no one wants to call out the wayward so a lot of parents are left without services in the state of Michigan…you either find an out if state lawyer willing to sue or you relocate to a state that is really known for better services like New York, Maine, Massachusetts or South Carolina??

#19 Comment By Mike Jacobs On April 21, 2014 @ 7:27 am

I would like to see employment statistics for DD employment by State that includes placement rate (funding approved-placed) average time (days) to place (funding – placement), average wage at start, average hrs/week at start. average retention rate (made it at least 90 days on the job), and average time employed for those in competitive employment that receive supported employment services (long-term follow-along).

#20 Comment By Dan On April 21, 2014 @ 11:02 am

Did they analyze all disability services? This annual ranking was not researched enough to really get a comprehensive and clear picture of each state. Should include customer/client surveys for each state as well.

#21 Comment By Jane On April 21, 2014 @ 11:15 am

Where can I see the complete list. I would like to see where oregon and washington fall in this list.

#22 Comment By Vivian D. Swibel, BSN, RN On April 21, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

I applaud those states that work with the section of their population that have disabilities. These are some of the hardest working people you will find; therefore, these states have tapped into a terrific resource available to them. I come from Illinois and have worked with many people, children and adults, with developmental disabilities. I have never found a more rewarding job then working with them. They really show you where the emphasis needs to placed on life – enjoying yourself, cherishing friends and family, working hard and playing hard. Especially, Thank You Arizona!

#23 Comment By Amy On April 22, 2014 @ 7:29 am

Where is PA on this list? I am shocked that GA is mentioned with how horrible services are, and PA not even mentioned has been far better.

#24 Comment By Barb On April 23, 2014 @ 1:17 am

If you click on the blue word analysis at the beginning of the article it will take you to the full data and website.

#25 Comment By Electric_Pink On April 23, 2014 @ 3:26 pm

I cannot believe that Georgia is number 4 on this list. I live in GA and work for a provider of persons with ID/DD. I mean, was the DOJ ruling against GA even a consideration in this ranking? It couldn’t have been. I can’t really take these rankings seriously now. UCP must not be considering certain data and information to make its decisions.

#26 Comment By Donna Little On April 24, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

Do not come to Arizona. This must be a trick. It is definitely a LIE. I guess all the dead ones that have been swept under a rug don’t count. The services are horrible! Low tax base translates into poor services for schools. Plenty of lawsuits get settled out of court and no one can talk both school age and older. AZ used to be 47th, now they are #1? I smell a rat. If you do have problems you have to get a lawyer, DDD and the schools will fight you every step the way. Everything is a fight. Read our about at Justice for Brian Blakey on Fb. We lost our court case too. Most citizens of AZ have a very strong Bias against disabled people. Stay AWAY. Services are VERY, Very Bad for autistics over 21. Group homes are allowed to operate as they please. Yeah they have guidelines, rules, regulations. Good luck getting someone to enforce them. What goes on in Arizona would make Hitler proud. Let’s see if this gets posted.

#27 Comment By Andrew Kent On April 25, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

Arizona? The reactionary, jingoist, Constitution-trashing, bible-thumping, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, neo-Nazi state of Arizona has a soft spot for people with developmental disabilities? And here I was suggesting that we give Arizona back to Mexico. Who knew?

#28 Comment By Frank On April 28, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

The research that was done isn’t broad enough to accurately measure services in a state. They focused on a limited amount of variables and it appears to focus on a limited DD population. The more mild population. In CA the day programs, including job placement, serves the mildly effected to the profound individual. They have a continuum of services from programs that work with the profound teaching them self care skills to Group Placement. where a job coach takes a group of individuals out into the community to work. ie: maids, assist with fast food services,etc. to individual placement in the community with a job coach that keeps scheduled contact. such as Courtesy Clerks at the local supermarket. They even assisted a HFA to work at Best Buys fixing computers. The Job Coach worked it out with the company so the individual doesn’t have to interact with the customers. The asst individual who want to live independently succeed with that. There are individuals who own their own homes and are assisted in learning how to live successfully. The also have small, 6 clients, group home that insure that they have all their medical needs and dental needs met. They are taken into the community to integrated them into the community. One house I’m familiar with go on vacations yearly. There are no waiting lists involved. There are senior homes as well as homes working with the DD population that have Alzheimer. The social workers/case managers advocate for their clients. People as far away as the middle east and Russia have contacted the agencies for assistance. For children with autism they have access to Pivitol Response training, ABA and Relationship training The parents are taught the fundamentals of the behavioral intervention with access to the therapist if need be. I moved back to CA from HI when I realized that my then 9 yo son with autism would not have any type of support when I and my wife die. CA provides that service. For the person who wants to know how to move there son from the state he is in to another state there are ways.

#29 Comment By Sharon Furstenwerth On April 29, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

To find the report that gives you the information that they used to make the rankings, click on the blue link in the article, analysis. It will take you to a page, where you can find a link to the full report. It is about 40 pages long (pdf file.)

#30 Comment By Larry Gray On May 16, 2014 @ 9:24 am

I was reading all your comments especially those who said “I cannot believe (a state) was listed as among the best” or something similar. Makes me wonder just how bad disability services are in other states. Maybe these states listed are the “best” of them all, eh? If so, then wow, disability services need to be revamped ASAP!

#31 Comment By linda brainerd On May 29, 2014 @ 8:29 am

can i see the actual LIST for 2014?

#32 Comment By Brittany On June 2, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

I worked for the State of Arizona DDD for years I find it was hard to believe Number 1 but, I know DDD try there hardest as advicates for consumers. I have worked in a few other states and Arizona cares it really cares. I find people want everything for nothing, but service cost money so there is a line drawn and many want to erase the line feeling there children are worse then they are. As a parent of a child with Autism I wish there were more services. People just need to wake up and see that until Day Programs, Therapies, and other programs quit charging there needs to be a someway to measure and some are not going to make it and that is sad. I would ask where is the money to come from? Very few parents see the big picture. The statistics present are not accurate so without more infromation who is number one is irrelvent.

#33 Comment By Bonnie Turner On June 3, 2014 @ 9:40 pm

Since my daughter finished school at 19 (she is now 43), we have lived in 4 states – Illinois, Washington, Alaska and Pennsylvania. Illinois was good and she didn’t stay on the waiting list for very long. Washington State was good and since she didn’t require a lot of hours of care, they were able to accommodate her needs. Alaska was bad. The previous Governor had worked to bring the waiting list down, but the next Governor cut a lot of things which meant that the waiting list grew a lot and my daughter never received any services. I was the one who assisted her in getting a place to live that she could afford and assisted her in finding a job (at my church) and a job coach. We now live in Pennsylvania and she is on a waiting list – who knows how long. She is back living with me and that is working out OK. But she is bored and has nothing to do – a job or a group to go to. I call, I ask – we’ll get back to you – and more excuses.

#34 Comment By Maria G On June 4, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

I have a son who has cerebral palsy was born in Cleveland,Ohio had all the services the only thing he was sick with pneumonia due to the cold i was out of work often so i move to Tampa, Florida in 2003 hum where is hot yeah but when down really quick also. no physical therapy in school and only 21 therapies a year authorize. he got behind very bad took me 10 yrs to be able to leave florida for good now i live in Columbia, South Carolina its better but never like Cleveland, Ohio and i am talking about services for children with disabilities it is a good place plus you have Cleveland Clinic one of the best.

#35 Comment By Amy On June 16, 2014 @ 12:32 am

I too am shocked to see Arizona at the top…. my son has CP since birth but when I attempted to apply for DDD services, he was denied due to not having been diagnosed by a neurologist, really??? My wheelchair bound, spastic quadriplegic son was denied services. How do they figure these rankings? They obviously only look at clients that are receiving services, not all those who have been denied needed services.

#36 Comment By Paul Davis On June 18, 2014 @ 4:04 am

I see that Arkansas has been rated at the bottom of the list but, from my first hand experience I can say this.
When I was trying to decide how to end my life, the mental health care system in Arkansas came to my rescue. I got psychiatric help and counseling, medications (we tried a few different ones) and ongoing support for almost 3 years. At some point I paid a ten dollar fee but everything else was covered. The counseling and genuine concern by several people on my case saved my life. I never had to pay for anything else including the medications. My counselor Kris A. was understanding, compassionate and without his support I would not be here now. I feel blessed the system in Arkansas was there for me….I went from homeless and suicidal to a modest but comfortable living situation and continue with counseling which has helped me cope with major depression, ptsd, ocd and a few other disorders that almost took my life. Thank you, thank you Health Resources of Arkansas, specifically Newton County….thank you for my life back.

#37 Comment By Jinny On July 14, 2014 @ 11:40 am

Counties should be considered, also. We live in Fairfax County, Virginia just so my disabled daughter can receive high-level services such as transportation, sheltered workshops, and caregivers. Other counties in the state of Virginia don’t offer the same services, even the counties that are adjacent to Fairfax County. Even though taxes are high in Fairfax County, it’s worth it for my family.

#38 Comment By Carol Benjamin On July 16, 2014 @ 11:02 pm

We moved to SC 2 yrs. ago job placement .. I have a daughter who is 21 and just graduated.. She is # 4,000 on a list.. NO SERVICES for her.. NOTHING here in Sumter, SC.. funding was cut a few years ago I heard… Support coordinator said it will take years for a program for her. What do I do watch her sit in her room and talk to her stuffed animals etc.. It just sickens me. We were thinking of moving for her sake but after reading many posts I don’t see any use, the same thing in other states !!!!!!!!

#39 Comment By Randi Smith On September 8, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

GA can not possibly be one of the best as it ranked 51 in the worst category before. The Dept, of Justice
has found against the state in 2012 class action case on all counts of not serving the disabled mentally ill
deaf. My daughter in this class action case was moved to So Carolina in 2012 and still can not be served
in GA now So Carolina’s Dept of Mental Health has refused to serve her since 2013 so she has been locked up in a care institution because she can not get her medications in the the community. Now in 2014 they will not serve any clients with duel diagnosis in the Dept. of Mental Health SC due to budget cuts! This is totally against the ADA and Federal and State laws but since it takes years in court for a
judgement and then more years after for appeals and resolution the states continue to get away with this deplorable treatment of the disabled!

#40 Comment By SBSC On September 29, 2014 @ 10:18 am

I’m not sure how the ranking was done, because GA and SC both ranked higher than say, NH, who has almost no waiting list and all services are community based, with lower cost. It doesn’t make sense.

#41 Comment By Robert Berger On October 10, 2014 @ 9:52 am

Texas remains at the bottom due to poor voting turnout, and misinformed caretakers of the disabled. Greg Abbot is the Attorney General and he IS AGAINST the American Disabilities Act! He even tried to deny a disabled person I know from what he rightfully needed for two years. If this person didn’t have the advocacy and money to fight he would be put in a State shool which would be devastating for him.


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