The State of North Carolina – lead by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) – has always provided support for those with developmental disabilities.

However, right now the state is in the middle of a two-year initiative that’s taking things to a new level.

State officials chose Monday March 11– which falls near the middle of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month – to highlight some of those new programs in a press release largely meant to make people aware of those new services.

According to the release, nearly 200,000 people in North Carolina have intellectual and related developmental disabilities.  Many of the new initiatives implemented last year and coming later this year are meant to help those people live and work independently and productively and provide them “the opportunity to access competitive integrated employment, education, housing, health care and civic engagement.”

In 2023, for instance, one program assisted 234 former inmates with developmental disabilities by providing personalized reentry plans for them to return to society after prison. This initiative has now secured two years of additional funding from NCDHHS.

Also last year, a “Guardianship Rights Bill” was signed into law.  It promotes less restrictive alternatives to guardianship for people with developmental disabilities.

Then there was Medicaid expansion late last year, which gave thousands of state residents with disabilities new access to health care.

In addition, NCDHHS began to make a $10 million investment in its Inclusion Works program – which promotes “competitive integrated employment” for those with disabilities.

There’s more in the way of help coming later this year as well.

The state plans to expand access to crisis services for those with disabilities, as well as ensure that those eligible are connected to all available Medicaid services.

Another project, the “Spark project” is an additional program that’s meant to offer more opportunities for those with disabilities to get jobs.

Also, this month, NCDHHS will be launching an Inclusion Connects program, designed to ensure people are receiving services while they’re on the waitlist for certain federal programs.