By Sally Damm, LNHA

Administration for Community Living, (AIDD) is a sector of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). AIDD provides financial and leadership support to organizations in every state and territory in the United States.  The AIDD exists to ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families can fully participate in and contribute to all aspects of community life.  One of the important and commonly used tools to facilitate this participation and contribution is group homes.

The AIDD agency is one of the results due to the effort of President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1966 he established The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID), formerly The President’s Committee on Mental Retardation, to ensure the right of a “decent, dignified place in society” for people with intellectual disabilities. Since that time, PCPID has served as a federal advisory committee to the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on matters relating to persons with intellectual disabilities.

AIDD oversees four grant programs established by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. They are as follows:

State Councils on Developmental Disabilities:

The 56 self-governing Councils across the United States and its territories are federally funded. The councils are to set goals to identify and address the needs of unique citizens that manage their disabilities within a community setting.  The assigned responsibilities are to:

A.  Advocate for the citizens with disabilities by identifying the most pressing needs with in their service area,

B.  Make recommendations for system changes by advancing public policy that help individuals gain independence.

C.  Create buildings within the community that have capacity to promote self-determination, integration, and inclusion.

Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As)

57 Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As) are located across the United States and its territories. The P & As are dedicated to the ongoing struggle for the personal and civil rights of individuals with developmental disabilities. P&As are state level systems that are independent of service. P & As agencies were established to protect individuals with developmental disabilities.  The agencies are to empower the individual to secure the highest level of independence that is safely possible. P & As are to advocate on behalf of those living and managing developmental and intellectual disabilities. Navigating the legal system to achieve resolution is a challenge for all citizens, therefore the P&A agencies have the authority to provide legal representation.  All P&As maintain a presence in facilities that care for people with disabilities (such as group homes), where they provide oversite, examine and attempt to correct adverse conditions.  These agencies also dedicate substantial resources to safeguarding full access to all-encompassing educational programs, financial entitlements, healthcare, accessible housing and productive employment opportunities.

National Network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research & Service (UCEDD)

The University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (UCEDDs) are unique among AIDD program. The 68 UCEDDs are located throughout United States and its territories and are affiliated with universities.  The universities affiliations serve as liaisons between academia and the community. Funding is received through discretionary grants leveraging funding from a variety of sources, including federal, state, and local agencies; private foundations; donations; and fee-for-service earnings.

UCEDDs are a nationwide network of independent but interlinked centers, on behalf of an expansive national resource for addressing matters, finding resolutions, and advancing exploration related to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Projects of National Significance (PNS)

Projects of National Significance (PNS) focus on the most persistent matters affecting people with developmental disabilities and their families. The purpose of PNS is to create and/or enhance opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  By focusing on the individual’s abilities, the person can contribute to society and participate in all facets of public life.  Through PNS, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) supports the advancement of national and state rules.  The PNS awards grants and contracts that develop the individuality, efficiency, inclusion, and unification of people with developmental disabilities.

Current PNS priorities include refining state employment policies and employment results of individuals with developmental disabilities, gathering data on family support and service outcomes, and providing technical assistance and training for AIDD system entities.


Intellectual disabilities affect an estimated 7 and 8 million in America of all ages this is three percent of the general population. Nearly 30 million, or one in ten families in the United States, are directly affected by a person with intellectual disabilities at some point in their lifetime. Group homes may serve individuals with intellectual disabilities.  When litigation results in the context of a group home, a group home expert witness may be utilized by the parties to assist the trier of fact understand the evidence.


Sally Damm is a multiple-award winning nursing home and long term care administrator. She has 30+ years administrative experience including being the head administrator of two different facilities. Ms. Damm is Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Qualified Assisted Living Administrator, Licensed Social Worker Associate, Preceptor and long-term-care support and services expert witness.