Call to Action! Upcoming Legislation Affecting DC residents with DD/ID

call_to_actionCALL TO ACTION


Please support this important bill, which will have a hearing on June 15, 2017, before the Committee on Human Services.  This bill promotes personal choice of people with disabilities and their families in two critical ways: (1) by reforming the antiquated civil commitment system for people with intellectual disabilities who want access to residential services; and (2) by formally recognizing supported decision-making, a less-restrictive alternative to adult guardianship.


Number of Students with Intellectual Disabilities in the US
No matter what age our little ones are that have either been identified as having an intellectual and/or developmental disability, it is never too early to take action! Join this campaign in solidarity.


1) Reforming Civil Commitment

  • Civil commitment is the involuntary placement of a person with an intellectual disability in a facility by court order.  Under current District law, a person with at least a moderate intellectual disability must be committed in order to receive certain residential services through Medicaid.  People who are committed are required to have an annual court hearing where a judge reviews and approves important life decisions for the person.
  • Civil commitment is an antiquated remnant from the days of Forest Haven, an institution that has been closed for nearly two and a half decades.   This means that we are committing people with intellectual disabilities to community-based residential services and taking away their rights to make important decisions in their own lives, such as where to live, how to spend their days, and more.
  • Civil commitment no longer reflects best practice in the field.  Nowhere else in our country requires civil commitment in order for a person to receive community-based residential services. 


  • Passage of this bill will mean that civil commitment is no longer required in order for persons with at least a moderate level of intellectual disability to receive certain residential services.
  • In addition, for the nearly 740 adults with intellectual disabilities who are currently civilly committed, they would get to choose whether or not to remain committed during their annual court hearing.  If they cannot make the decision themselves, family members or close friends would be able to make it based on what the person would want.

2) Creating Supported Decision-Making Agreements


  • Supported Decision-Making is an alternative to guardianship where an adult with a disability makes his or her own decisions by using people he or she trusts to help understand the issues and choices they face.  It may be used by older adults and people with a wide range of disabilities.
  • Research has shown that people with disabilities who have greater self-determination and control over their lives have better life outcomes.  For example, they are more integrated into their communities, healthier, are more employed, and are better able to recognize and resist abuse.


  • This bill would formally recognize supported decision-making as an option in all areas of life and across the lifespan by creating an official statutory form people with disabilities may use to record such arrangements.  It adds another tool to the toolbox families use to support to people with disabilities.
  • This bill lays the groundwork in our city for supporting adults with intellectual disabilities to build their capacity and make as many decisions as they are able about their own lives, with the support of family and friends.


1) Sign up to testify on Thursday, June 15, at 10 AM at the Wilson Building:

Email or call the Committee on Human Services at or (202) 724-8170, and provide your name, telephone number, organizational affiliation, and title (if any), by close of business Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

2) Call or email NOW the members of the Committee on Human Services:

Tell them who you are and where you live (parent, person with a disability, etc.) how you feel about this bill and why you support it.  Use the key points above, or from the attached fact sheet.

It is very important to reach out to these members in the next week before the hearing on Thursday, June 15.  Even if you are testifying – please email and call them as well!

Chair – Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, or (202) 724-8181
Councilmember Trayon White,  or (202) 724-8045
Councilmember Brandon Todd, or (202) 724-8052
Councilmember David Grosso, or (202) 724-8105
Councilmember Robert White, or (202) 724-8174

3) Spread the word to other parents, family members and friends!

Questions on what this bill means?  You can read more in the DDS FAQ or click here: CIDCRRA FAQ

You can also contact me or Morgan Whitlatch, Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, or Omonigho Ufomata, Legislative & Policy Analyst, DDS,

Thank you!

In solidarity,


Molly L. Whalen
Executive Director
DC Association for Special Education