Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.
-- Goran Persson
Today, January 10, 2018 marks the one year anniversary of the District of Columbia’s exit from the long-standing Evans lawsuit. It bears noting that the court order dismissing and closing the case resulted from a joint motion by the parties after the District successfully satisfied all agreed-upon outcome criteria meant to measure and improve the service delivery system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As I am certain you will agree, this was truly a watershed moment for the city, and the many people greatly impacted by the case. Under the leadership and support of Mayor Bowser, 2017 was the first without federal judicial oversight of our service delivery system, one that has matured into one of the most respected in our nation. During the final hearing last year, Judge Ellen S. Huvelle referenced the United Cerebral Palsy annual survey that noted that the District jumped 42 spots from 2007 to 2016, going from one of the worst states in the country (49th place in 2007) to one of the best (7th in 2016). It is with that we proudly continue to manage a system that supports more than 2,300 city residents with intellectual disabilities in the least restrictive, most inclusive day, employment and residential settings in and around the city.
Late last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services renewed our Home and Community- Based Services Medicaid waiver program, which boasts of 26 services, including newly added Assistive Technology and Parenting Supports that the District collaboratively developed in response to intensive shareholder engagement and public input. These services continue to be delivered by a committed and competent provider community that has partnered with the District in a myriad of initiatives that culminated in last year’s historic ending of Evans. Furthermore, in October, 2017, the District became the fifth state in the country to have an approved transition plan, which plots the course for the District to provide services in which people are fully integrated into their communities.
In addition to this, in March 2017, DDS embarked on its own journey to become a person centered organization. This process has engaged staff at all levels in developing practices that will ensure that the agency becomes more person centered in its approach to the people we support. As we near the first year anniversary of that journey, I look forward to reaching out to stakeholders to work with us in year two of this process.
I want to thank you all for your important roles in ensuring that we continue to support people to lead the independent lives of their choosing. I look forward to a bright future of continuing improvements through collaboration and person-centered thinking.
Andrew P. Reese, Director
DC Department on Disability Services