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Developmental Disabilities Waiting List Initiative


Analyzing the impact of Nebraska’s developmental disabilities waiting list 

Developmental disability services benefit nearly 5000 individuals in our state. Although they are entitled to receive these services from the state, not all Nebraskan citizens with disabilities are provided these services in their time of need. About 2300 Nebraskans who need these services from the state are sitting on a waiting list, past the date of their need. Moreover, the average Nebraskan with disabilities waits nearly seven years to receive services from the state necessary for everyday functioning. Disability Rights Nebraska collaborated with the Nebraska Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to analyze the waiting list for developmental disabilities. The result was "Waiting for Services: Analyzing the Impact of Nebraska's Developmental Disabilities Waiting List". The study explores the reasons for the waiting list, compares Nebraska's developmental disability services to those of other states, and identifies solutions for improvement.

“Nebraska has a strong history of investing in educational, medical and related services and supports for children and youth with disabilities from date of diagnosis through age twenty-one.  Despite this commitment to young Nebraskans with intellectual/developmental disabilities, today over 2,300 children, youth and adults are waiting for essential services beyond their need date. As a result of the State’s lack of will to provide the necessary funding, thousands of Nebraskans are not able to obtain the services and supports they need to live in integrated community settings as members of their own communities, as well as being deprived of opportunities for meaningful employment in order to become more economically self-sufficient.”

- Eric Evans,
CEO, Disability Rights Nebraska


  • While almost 5,000 Nebraskans received developmental disability services in 2018, another 2,300 sat on the state waiting list not receiving services.
  • Of those on the waiting list, about three quarters are between the age of 10 and 30, while only about one in six are over age 30.
  • The typical person pulled off the waiting list in 2017 or 2018 was on the waiting list for six to seven years, with some having waited almost eight years.
  • Nebraska tends to use less of its resources on developmental disability services compared to other states, ranking 39th nationally in spending as a percentage of personal income
  • In the past three years, the Nebraska legislature has slowed spending on developmental disability aid, even reducing spending in Fiscal Year 2019.

Bringing the findings to the Legislature

On November 1, 2019, LR 216 gave us the opportunity to present our findings to the Nebraska Legislature. The purpose of LR 216's interim study is to examine funding priorities for the medicaid home and community-based services waivers under the Developmental Disabilities Services Act and recommend changes to the waiver program to best serve Nebraska families. At the hearing, Disability Rights Nebraska's Chief Executive Officer, Eric Evans, provided testimony on LR 216 before the Health and Human Services Committee. Eric's LR 216 testimony serves as a thorough explanation of the study and why it is important to address the waiting list for developmental disabilities.