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Administration for Children and Families US Department of Health and Human Services
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Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD)


To improve and increase services to and assure that individuals with developmental disabilities have opportunities to make their own choices, contribute to society, have supports to live independently, and are free of abuse, neglect, financial and sexual exploitation and violations of their legal and human rights.

What are developmental disabilities?
Developmental disabilities are severe, life-long disabilities attributable to mental and/or physical impairments which manifest themselves before the age of 22 years and are likely to continue indefinitely. They result in substantial limitations in three or more of the following areas:

  • self-care
  • comprehension and language
  • skills (receptive and expressive language)
  • learning
  • mobility
  • self-direction
  • capacity for independent living
  • economic self-sufficiency
  • ability to function independently without coordinated services (continuous need for individually planned and coordinated services).

Persons with developmental disabilities require individually planned and coordinated services and supports (e.g., housing, employment, education, civil and human rights protection, health care) from many providers in order to live in the community.


The major goal of The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) is for grantees to partner with state governments, local communities and the private sector to assist people with developmental disabilities by helping them to reach their maximum potential through increased independence, productivity and integration within the community.

Grants fund activities in eight areas of emphasis:

  • quality assurance
  • education and early intervention
  • child care
  • health
  • employment
  • housing
  • transportation
  • recreation activities.

The Developmental Disabilities Grant Programs are comprised of three state-based programs that collaborate with each other as well as with other entities in their respective States. They are:

A fourth program is directed toward national concerns:

— In FY 2004, $165 million is available for the Administration on Developmental Disabilities programs.


State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD)
This formula grant, or a grant made to states which has been predetermined by the U.S. Congress and allotted on the basis of population, financial need and need for service, is used to support state councils that have been organized to oversee the following initiatives for the developmentally disabled community:

  • program growth
  • advocacy
  • development of family-friendly systems
  • cultural services and opportunities
  • assistance to individuals seeking independence and community integration
  • employment assistance
  • child development
  • community education.

— In FY 2004, $73.1 million is available to State Councils on Developmental Disabilities.

State Protection and Advocacy Agencies (P&As)
A formula grant is allotted to states based on population, financial need and need for service. The State Protection and Advocacy Agencies provide services to the developmentally disabled for:

  • the protection and advocacy of legal and human rights
  • education
  • abuse
  • neglect
  • institutional or habilitation
  • guardianship
  • housing.

— In FY 2004, $38.4 million is available to State Protection and Advocacy Agencies.

National Network of University Centers for the Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Services (UCEDDs)
This discretionary grant, a grant with a specific purpose for its use and allotted to public and private non-profit agencies, is awarded to universities and is used for:

  • interdisciplinary training
  • technical assistance
  • research
  • exemplary services
  • information/dissemination.

The grant is designed to garner additional assistance for a national network of UCEDDs. These centers support activities that address various issues from prevention to early intervention to supported employment. They represent a broad range of disabilities.

— In FY 2004, $26.8 million is available to UCEDDs grants.

Projects of National Significance (PNS)
PNS funds are discretionary grants, awarded to public and private, non-profit institutions to promote the self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion into the community of people with developmental disabilities. Funds are also used to support the development of national and state policies.

These projects focus on the most pressing issues affecting people with developmental disabilities and their families. Some issues transcend state and territory borders but must be addressed on a local level. Examples are:

  • family support activities
  • data collection and analysis
  • technical assistance to enhance the State Councils and UCEDD programs
  • programs designed to enhance the participation of minorities in initiatives in developmental disabilities
  • programs to assist youth with developmental disabilities in the transition from school to the work-force and post secondary education opportunities
  • programs to develop self-advocacy and leadership skills among people with developmental disabilities; programs to assist families of the developmentally disabled
  • programs for people with developmental disabilities in the criminal justice system
  • workshops and technical assistance to improve the functions of UCEDDs. (this example is addressed above)
  • projects that create opportunities for community economic development.

— In FY 2004, $11.4 million is available to PNS programs.

Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
The Administration on Developmental Disabilities also oversees three disability-related grant programs authorized through HAVA to address the issues related to individuals with the full range of disabilities:

  • access to voting facilities
  • private and independent voting experiences
  • training of poll workers and election volunteers on promoting access and participation
  • providing information and outreach on access to polling places.
ADD administers these programs by:

  • making payments to States and Local Units of Government to improve accessibility and participation in the voting process
  • awarding formula grants to State Protection and Advocacy Systems to assist individuals with disabilities in the voting process
  • making payments to eligible public or private entities to provide training and technical assistance to P&As to assist them in meeting their responsibilities.

— In FY 2004, $14.9 is available for HAVA programs.


Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD)
Office of the Commissioner
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447
Phone number: 202.690.6590
Fax: 202.690.6904
TDD: 202.690.6415
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Updated August 2004
Office of Public Affairs (OPA)