Maryland's Developmental Disabilities Administration implemented pilot self-determination projects in two sites, suburban Howard County in central Maryland and western Maryland's Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties. The goal of the projects was to give people with developmental disabilities and their families greater control over the services they received.
The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program, Self-Determination for People with Developmental Disabilities.
In the second year of the grant, 1998, the state allocated $118 million over five years to reduce the number of people with developmental disabilities waiting for services.
The project accomplished the following:
- By the end of the grant, 141 individuals in the pilot sites converted from using bundled services provided through set contracts to participating in the selection of services tailored to their own specific needs.
- Some 373 new consumers began receiving tailored support services.
- The administration introduced self-determination practices outside the pilot sites. By the end of 2000, more than 2,500 people with developmental disabilities from Maryland's waiting list had begun receiving services using a self-determination approach.
- Service coordinators reported that individual budgets—which allow consumers to change providers easily and obtain services from several providers—improved the overall quality of service in the pilot sites.
- The Developmental Disabilities Administration reported that the number of self-advocacy groups increased over the life of the grant, increasing the support available to individual consumers, and giving the community of people with developmental disabilities a greater voice in Maryland.
The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, a federally funded organization representing the interests of people with developmental disabilities and their families, paid for two studies of Maryland's initiative.
- The ARC of Maryland and Bonham Research of Baltimore analyzed consumer satisfaction and reported that "transportation is the service that consistently has impact upon people's quality of life."
- Independent of the RWJF-funded national program evaluation, the Human Services Research Institute explored the initiative's impact on Maryland's service delivery system and on the consumers examined in the ARC evaluation. They reported: (1) more individualized support services were provided, and (2) budget control had not been moved to the consumer.