Questions & Answers

These are answers to questions about the Council. They help explain who we are and what we do.

What is the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council?

The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council has been creating change to improve the lives of people with  developmental disabilities since 1971. We focus on children, family, and adult issues. The Council is an independent state agency. We are led by people with developmental disabilities and family members of people with developmental disabilities.

What federal law does the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council follow?

The Council was established through the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act). The DD Act was passed in 1963. DD Councils were added in 1970. The Act was last updated in 2000. The Council follows all of the requirements of the DD Act.

How is the Council funded?

Funding is the money an organization gets to do its work. The Council gets all of its funding from the federal government. We do not get any funding from the state. We report to a federal agency called the Administration on Disabilities, Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (OIDD). Disability Rights Maryland (DRM) and Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) are also funded through the DD Act. Our organizations work closely together.

Is the Council a part of state government?

The Council is a state agency but we are independent.  This means we do not report to the governor or any other state agency. It also means that the governor and other parts of state government cannot direct our work. We make all decisions about what we do and how we do it. This is a requirement of the DD Act. The DD Act is the federal law the Council must follow. It is also how we get our funding.

The Council’s executive director and staff are state employees, but they are responsible only to the Council.

Why does the Council focus on inclusion?

The focus of the DD Act is inclusion. The DD Act states:

“The purpose of this title is to assure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life …” (P.L. 106-402. Subtitle A. Sec. 101.b.)

“It is the policy of the United States that all programs, projects, and activities receiving assistance under this title shall be carried out in a manner consistent with the principles that…individuals with developmental disabilities, including those with the most severe developmental disabilities, are capable of self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life, but often require the provision of community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance…” (P.L. 106-402. Subtitle A. Sec. 101.c.1.)

This includes a lot of legal words. Contact the Council if you have any questions.

How does the Council decide what issues it will focus on?

Every 5 years the Council develops a State Plan. The State Plan describes barriers that get in the way of people with developmental disabilities living the lives they want with the support they need. The Council picks the most important issues to work on. We set goals and activities to make progress on these issues. The State Plan shows how we will create change that improves people’s lives.

What does the Council fund?

The Council’s mission and State Plan guide how our funding is used. We use our funding to support staff and Council member activities like education and advocacy. We also fund other groups and organizations to work on projects and activities in our State Plan. The Council funds many different kinds of projects and activities to help us make progress on our goals.

Click here to learn more about what the Council funds.

Click here to read about projects and activities the Council is funding now.

Does the Council fund services for people with disabilities?

No, the Council does not fund direct services. The Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) is the agency that funds services and supports for people with developmental disabilities in Maryland.

Who can be a Council member?

The DD Act has rules about who can be a member of the Council. Council members include:

  • Adults with developmental disabilities
  • Parents or guardians of children with developmental disabilities
  • Family members of adults with developmental disabilities that cannot advocate for themselves
  • 7 state agencies
  • Community organizations that serve people with developmental disabilities
  • Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities
  • Disability Rights Maryland

Most members are people with developmental disabilities and family members. They have to be at least 60% of our membership.

Here is information on the responsibilities of Council members.

What are Council member responsibilities? How long do members stay on the Council?

Most Council members are appointed for a 5-year term. A term is how long you serve on the Council.  When a member’s term is done, they can be appointed for another 5-year term. This can happen if the member is interested in a second term and they met all their responsibilities.

The Council member position description provides information about member responsibilities. There is useful information in the Become a Member section of this website. Check it out and contact us if you have questions.

Does the Council provide support to members?

Yes. We make sure all members have the support they need to participate in our work.  Examples of the types of support we provide to Council members who are people with developmental disabilities or family members include:

  • Transportation to meetings
  • Personal assistance services during meetings
  • Child care
  • Support to review and understand materials before and during meetings
  • Mentors
  • Small stipends for attending meetings

How can I apply to become a Council member?

Complete our membership application and send it to us if you are interested in being a member of the Council. Review the list above to see if you are eligible to apply.

When there are vacancies on the Council, the Membership Committee reviews all applications and decides who to interview. We only have about 30 Council members so we cannot add everyone who applies.

The Membership Committee makes recommendations to the Council about who should join the Council as new members. The Council takes a vote on the recommendations. The governor also has to approve the recommendations. If the governor approves, he or she “appoints” these people the Council. This means they become a Council member. This is the only time when the governor has any say in what the Council does.

Can I attend Council meetings if I am not a Council member?

Council meetings are open to the public. Everyone is welcome to attend. Meetings dates are posted on our website.

Guests can watch and listen at Council meetings. They cannot participate in the discussions and votes. Guests can speak at meetings during the “public comment” period. This is a chance to share your thoughts and ideas about things you want the Council to know.

If you need an accommodation, please contact the Council at least 5 days before the meeting you want to attend. Accommodations are things like sign language interpreters, large print documents, and other things that help people communicate and participate.

What are developmental disabilities?

Developmental disabilities are disabilities that a person has before they turn 22 years old. They affect the person’s ability to do activities independently without support. Examples include intellectual disability, autism, and cerebral palsy.

To get services from the Developmental Disabilities Administration, you have to be eligible. Here is how Maryland decides if someone has a developmental disability.