Waiting Lists and Service AccessWhy This Is Important
It is important for people with developmental disabilities to obtain services and supports when they need them. When supports are not available, people cannot live the life they want.When states are unable to furnish services to individuals right away, people end up on waiting lists. Unfortunately, this is the case in many states. Sometimes individuals stay on waiting lists for long periods of time. In addition, many states are experiencing high demand for services and supports. More individuals and families are seking services. This high demand for services also can lead to more individuals being wait listed for services.Reducing or eliminating waiting lists for services requires states to increase funding and the capacity of their community systems. In several states, stakeholder coalitions have launched initiatives to secure more resources to enable wait listed individuals to receive services. Many of these initiatives have been successful in gaining the support of policymakers. Information about many of these initiatives is included here. However, recently there also has been litigation aimed at requiring states to serve wait listed individuals promptly.A closely related problem is that some groups of individuals are underserved. This can be the case for people with disabilities who also are members of racial or ethnic groups. Outreach to these individuals or taking other steps to improve the cultural competency of service systems are important steps in addressing this problem.