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New Inclusion Connects initiative to further support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities


RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today announced the launch of Inclusion Connects, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the state to better connect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families with community-based services which are essential to supporting their health and well-being.

There are almost 200,000 people in North Carolina with developmental disabilities. Inclusion Connects will provide better access to the various supports and services available through Medicaid so people can live how and where they choose. For example, right now, there are more than 17,000 people on the Innovations Waiver Waitlist but only 39% of them are receiving services while they wait. There are similar services such as community living support, supported employment and respite care available now.

NCDHHS is working with subject matter experts, stakeholders and people with lived experience to develop a comprehensive, centralized resource that lists the services currently available for people with I/DD and how to access them. Once complete, the Inclusion Connects website will serve as a one-stop shop for people on the waitlist to find services and supports that will enhance choice and community integration.

“Every person should be free to live a life of purpose and abundance — which means giving individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their families the freedom to choose their own path and the resources to make it possible,” said NC Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “The Inclusion Connects initiative supports individuals in their transition to community-based care and recognizes the indispensable role of direct support professionals who provide these services and help to make community inclusion a reality.”


People who have I/DD and their families face unique challenges in accessing care and support services. Last year, NCDHHS obtained approval of the 1915(i) state plan amendment to expand opportunities for Medicaid recipients who have I/DD to receive services in their home or community rather than an institutional setting. Through Inclusion Connects, people who are eligible for 1915(i) benefits will receive additional support in locating and securing resources that empower them to live within their chosen community. People can now use the Inclusion Connects website to directly access services and find support to help them. That includes connecting with support staff to answer any questions they may have. As detailed on the website, NCDHHS Inclusion Connects services have three priority areas for eligible recipients:

  • Increasing access to resources — Create a one-stop hub for individuals with I/DD and their guardians to find and utilize critical supports and resources more easily
  • Streamlining community transition — Increasing access to a full continuum of community housing options while also simplifying pathways to community-based care and ensuring a smooth transition for individuals with I/DD and their families into their chosen community
  • Supporting direct support professionals — Providing comprehensive support for direct support professionals through enhanced training and competitive compensation with the goal of recognizing and strengthening the workforce dedicated to providing these essential services

“Access to care and support is a fundamental right and essential for people with I/DD to live inclusively within their communities,” said Kelly Crosbie, MSW, LCSW, Director of the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Use Services. “Inclusion Connects is an important step forward in helping us eliminate barriers and bridge the gap between people and the critical supports they need.”

Inclusion Connects aligns with NCDHHS’ commitment to enhance community-based supports in North Carolina to ensure every person can live a fulfilled and integrated life within their own community. The department will continue to work to improve community transition resources, housing options, employment opportunities and direct care services that empower people with I/DD and their families to choose where and how to live their best lives.

For more information on how to access resources and to learn more about what services might be right for you or your family, visit the Inclusion Connects website. If you have questions, feedback or would like to become part of the ongoing work to further develop the Inclusion Connects resource, please contact dmhiddcontact@dhhs.nc.gov.