CDS helps individuals with disabilities reach their potential by improving their access to quality care, empowering them to navigate their own care, training individuals supporting people with autism, surveying community members about their satisfaction with services, and helping them prepare for and survive emergencies.

Emergency Preparedness

Generators for the home. A sensible evacuation route. Safety protocols responders can follow. These and a thousand other items could spell the difference between security and exposure to danger.

CDS collaborates with stakeholders to develop and promote inclusive emergency preparedness that addresses the unique needs of people with disabilities and chronic conditions. We provide trainings and presentations on their needs to health department staff, service providers and first responders. We give first responders helpful tools, tips, and resources for helping people with disabilities. And we help people with disabilities and their families formulate their own emergency plans and emergency kits. Check out our allreadyde.org website to see how in emergencies it can help health professionals, first responders, educators and the public know how to appropriately accommodate the needs of people with disabilities and chronic conditions. Questions? Contact Bhavana Viswanathan.

Family SHADE

The CDS-administered Family SHADE (Support and Healthcare Alliance Delaware) is comprised of family partners and organizations committed to improving the quality of life of children and youth with special health care needs. Family SHADE does that by connecting families and providers to one another and to information, resources and services that benefit children and youth with special health care needs.

Collaboration’s key. Families and providers attend community breakfasts, support groups, workshops and other events that seek to empower, inform and foster connections. Family SHADE also connects health care providers and families of children and youth with special health care needs to community services and resources through its website and mobile app. The Roadmap to Services on Family SHADE’s website is a good place to start.

Health Disparities

Compared to their counterparts without disabilities, adults with disabilities are more likely to delay seeing a doctor due to cost, more likely to be obese, more likely to smoke, and more likely to experience chronic conditions of diabetes, coronary heart disease and depression. Compared to their counterparts without disabilities, youth with disabilities also face challenges. For example, they’re more likely to have contemplated suicide.

In 2015, CDS and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) led a community assessment that detailed those and other health disparities across the lifespan, and convened community members who produced a strategic Plan to Achieve Health Equity for Delawareans with Disabilities. Its recommendations have begun to be implemented, starting with DHSS drafting and adopting a new inclusion policy.

Oral Health

Although dental care is critical to overall health, Delawareans with disabilities have more difficulty receiving it than their counterparts without disabilities – in part because Delaware does not provide Medicaid dental coverage to adults with disabilities who are older than 21.

To improve access, CDS is collaborating with the Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services. CDS conducted a dental care survey of adults with disabilities and parents of individuals ages 6 to 49 with disabilities to determine their dental care needs. And it administered a survey of dentists to determine their current capacity to address oral health needs of Delawareans with disabilities. The findings of these surveys guided the development of cultural competency trainings for dental professionals and could facilitate efforts to expand Medicaid coverage.

Healthy Transitions App

Many young adults preparing to live independently lack healthcare- and lifestyle-related decision-making skills. To give them more of the support they need, the Center for Disabilities Studies launched the Healthy Transitions App.

This interactive smartphone application uses videos produced by CDS and Healthy Transitions New York to teach young adults the skills they need to become more independent in matters of healthcare, insurance, healthy lifestyles and relationships. A federal grant through the Delaware Division of Public Health funded its development.

National Core Indicators

Since 2014, Delaware Developmental Disabilities Services has tapped CDS to conduct the state’s National Core Indicators (NCI) surveys, among the few large-scale research projects that seek perspective directly from people with developmental disabilities and their family members regarding their satisfaction with the services they receive.

Each year, hundreds of consumers and family members are surveyed about their perspective and experiences regarding employment, rights, service planning, community inclusion, choice and health and safety. Data from the 46 states participating in NCI is used to influence national and state policy, improve practice at the state level, add knowledge to the field, set priorities and inform strategic planning.