The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is teaming up with the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities to educate the public, caregivers and workers regarding some changes in state programs and the effect of those programs on residents with developmental issues.

According to the most recent stats, there are about 200,000 people in North Carolina with intellectual or developmental disabilities – and more than 215,000 who’ve had traumatic brain injuries.

The philosophy of state health officials is that everyone deserves access to health care that includes medical care, behavioral health care and community-based services – and also that those with developmental challenges should “be able to live and get the services in the setting that is the best fit for them to thrive.”

One way to make sure that happens is by getting information out regarding the current changing landscape on how services are offered.  For instance, there’s a lot to know about the upcoming implementation of Medicaid expansion when it comes to providing help for those with developmental disabilities.  Under the new system, NCDHHS will be able to “use existing funding for harm reduction, prevention and direct support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury.”

Those with brain injuries and developmental disabilities who are being released from prison and jail could also be affected by changes. This month, administrative entities across the state began providing a host of home and community-based services to Medicaid beneficiaries who face serious mental health issues, brain injuries and developmental disabilities.  The state’s Justice Release, Reentry, and Reintegration Initiative: Alliance for Disability Advocates North Carolina is providing individualized re-entry services for former inmates facing these issues.

In addition, NCDHHS is taking steps to make sure that people with developmental issues have choices of work and have the ability to work in integrated settings with fair pay – if they choose to work. To that end, NCDHHS is updating its website to provide clearer communication about the latest resources for members and providers.

There are also upcoming state budget items and discussions that have implications for those with developmental disabilities.

To help people understand many aspects of the enacted and proposed changes, a statewide virtual and in-person town hall will be held on Thursday, August 10 at 6 p.m. At that event, after opening remarks, NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley and NCDHHS Director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services Kelly Crosbie will answer questions from both in-person guests and virtual participants on Zoom. The department will also provide updates on a number of current initiatives.