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The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) oversees a statewide system of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities and their families. DODD does this by developing services that ensure an individual's health and safety, encourage participation in the community, increase opportunities for meaningful employment, and provide residential services and support from early childhood through adulthood.

The mission of DODD in continuous improvement of the quality of life for Ohio's citizens with developmental disabilities and their families. Our vision is that Ohio's citizens with developmental disabilities and their families will experience lifestyles that provide opportunities for personal security, physical and emotional well-being, full community participation, productivity, and equal right.

A developmental disability is a severe, chronic disability that is attributable to a mental or physical impairment – or combination of impairments – other than those which are solely caused by mental illness. The impairment must be fully formed before the person is 22 years old, and be likely to continue indefinitely. Developmental disabilities cause a person to need special care, treatment, or services for an extended period of time that is individually planned and coordinated for the person.

DODD oversees the statewide developmental disabilities system, including developing programs and managing the licensure and certification process. DODD also operates eight residential Developmental Centers (DCs) across the state. The DCs provide temporary residential placement, offer programs that teach skills individuals need to live in a less intensive, more community-based setting, and provide extensive outreach services to County Boards and providers, including case consultation and staff training.

County Boards of Developmental Disabilities are responsible for developing person-centered plans that identify the supports that will help an individual achieve their goals, and connect individuals with the providers and funding needed to implement those person-centered plans. Each of Ohio’s 88 counties has a County Board, which is accredited by DODD. Ohio’s County Boards were established in the 1960s as a way to transition people with developmental disabilities out of long-term institutional care and integrate them into their local communities. County Boards are funded by a mixture of local, state, and federal dollars.

Providers work with individuals, families, and caregivers to deliver the services specified in their person-centered plans. Providers offer facility-based services such as Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs), or community-based services. Community-based providers may be agencies with several employees, or independent providers who work on their own. DODD oversees providers, and is responsible for the licensing/certification process that ensures providers meet the necessary qualifications for the services they offer.

County Boards determine eligibility. Eligibility requirements vary by age.

For ages 0-2, the eligibility report completed by or for Help Me Grow is used to determine eligibility.

For ages 3-5, each County Board sets eligibility requirements, which may include the evaluation completed by or for the school district for preschool special education.

For ages 6 and older, standard assessment tools are used to measure an individual’s current functional abilities in life activity areas – mobility, self-care, self-direction, capacity for independent living, learning, and receptive and expressive language skills – for ages 16 and older, the tool also measures economic self-sufficiency. To be eligible for services, an individual must show substantial functional limitations in at least three of these areas. DODD is responsible for developing the assessment tools, and training those who conduct the assessments.

There is a broad range of services available to help individuals with all aspects of their lives, including daily living activities, helping parents aid in their children’s development, preparing for and working in the community, and getting around the community. The services an individual receives are based on their needs, and are documented in an Individual Service Plan.

Services are funded in three ways:

  • Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver Program: Individuals live in community settings of their choice, and direct their care within the limits of their budget (i.e., funding levels, type of services). Funding and services are based on each individual, and determined by a standard assessment tool. Individuals can hire and remove providers as they desire.

    Federal Medicaid funds cover approximately 60 percent of the cost, and the County Board or DODD is responsible for the remaining amount. Because there is a limit to county and state funds, there is a waiting list for Ohio waivers in most counties.

  • Facility-based Care: Individuals reside in a privately operated Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) or a state-operated Developmental Center (DC), which provides all services, as well as room and board. The funding is “owned” by the facility – if an individual chooses to move, they secure services and funding through an opening at another ICF or DC, or a waiver; the facility has an opening for another individual to move in.

    Federal Medicaid funds cover approximately 60 percent of the cost, and the state is responsible for the remaining amount.

  • Locally Funded Services: Individuals reside in a community-based setting, and receive services from their County Board, or another organization. Services vary by county, and may include day services, transportation, and school programs.
  • If you need services – whether you suspect your child has a developmental disability, you just received a diagnosis, or you are receiving services in another state and are moving to Ohio – contact your local County Board; this is the county in which the individual receiving services resides. Your County Board will begin the process of determining eligibility, and connecting you with the needed services.