What’s happening to the DC DDA Health Initiative?

In late June, L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C. learned, alongside other disability service providers, that a long-standing contract between the DC Department on Disability Services (DDS)/Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and the Georgetown University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) would not be renewed. Known as the District of Columbia DDA Health Initiative, this partnership between DDS and the UCEDD provides resources and education to people with disabilities, nurses, parents, and service providers. With the contract ending on August 31st, the intent is that the services provided through the Health Initiative will instead be provided through DDS programming and staff.

L’Arche GWDC has most directly benefited from the DDA Health Initiative through the training, education, and technical support they have provided to our nursing team. A nurse educator from the Georgetown team has provided invaluable insight and guidance to our team and has been a ready resource when questions surface or new healthcare needs arise. Other members of the Georgetown team have given input during core member hospital stays and subsequent transitions home, working to ensure the best possible outcomes.

In the last several weeks, there has been significant attention drawn to the decision made to terminate the contract, through articles, opinion pieces, and a hearing before the DC Council. The most significant concern we have is that the people most affected by this decision – people with disabilities and the people who support them – were not consulted. While we understand that contracts change and shift over time, we join others in the disability community in expressing our concern regarding the nature of how this decision was made and communicated. We join advocates, families, and other disability service providers in asking for an extension to the current contract in order to allow for stakeholder engagement in the review and implementation of any transition plan going forward.

If you have further questions about the Health Initiative and L’Arche GWDC’s concerns and opinions about this decision, please reach out to Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm, Human Services Leader, at [email protected].

If you are interested in making a public comment to the DC Council, you may still do so through August 6th. Your comment should be sent to the Committee on Human Services at [email protected] or to Nyasha Smith, Secretary of the Council, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 5, Washington, D.C. 20004.