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4853 Galaxy Parkway, Suite A
Warrensville Heights, OH 44128

Phone: (216) 464-7600

Home Resources Tool Kits Getting Help From the Ohio DoDD Tool Kit

Getting Help From the Ohio DoDD Tool Kit

Someone at your doctor’s office, your therapy center, your school or even a friend may have advised you to get connected with the Ohio County Board of Developmental Disabilities to get assistance. This tool kit offers a step-by-step process for contacting and getting connected with your local county board.

Milestones provides consultation services to all family members, professionals, and self-advocates. Services include connecting participants to resources and providing general information and assistance. We also offer a free Autism helpdesk. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 216.464.7600 or info@milestones.org.

Download the Ohio DoDD Tool Kit

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors, and may not reflect the official position of Milestones Autism Resources. The publication is designed to provide guidance concerning the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that Milestones Autism Resources is not engaged in the rendering of legal, medical, or professional services. If legal, medical, or other expert advice or assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

Copyright 2020 Milestones Autism Resources. All rights reserved.


The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DoDD) is the parent agency for local county boards, and is a state-run agency that oversees a system of support services for individuals with disabilities. They focus on health and safety, supporting access to community participation, and increasing opportunities for meaningful employment.

Many families contact Milestones because they are unsure of what to ask for, what services may be covered, or how to contact them. Below are a few steps to help answer these questions and to get you connected with qualified services tailored to you.

1. Identify your local Ohio county board office 

You can locate the appropriate County Board of Developmental Disabilities branch for your area by reviewing this link. It offers an intuitive, interactive map of Ohio counties, as well as an alphabetical listing. You can also contact the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities by phone at 800.617.6733 to be referred to your local county office.

2. Call to establish or resume services

When first contacting their local county board, families are automatically assigned a Service & Support Administrator (SSA), who acts as their case manager for all County Board services whether they request assistance right away or not.  when you call the DoDD you should first ask whether you have previously been assigned to work with someone.  

  • If the answer is “Yes, you have been assigned an SSA” – request to be connected with the SSA (skip to step 4).
  • If “No, you have not been enrolled in County Board services” – request to schedule an intake appointment (continue to step 3).

It is important to note that while these case managers are generally referred to as Service & Support Administrators (SSA), the title of your case manager may vary based on the county you live in. For example, in Cuyahoga County your assigned worker may be called a Support Administrator (SA) instead.

3. Assemble the documents needed to establish services

To determine eligibility for County Board services, you will need to compile and provide various documents related to the individual with disabilities. The documentation needed may vary depending on the programs and services you are applying for, but generally consist of the following items:

Identification: You will need to have the individual’s Social Security card and birth certificate.

Proof of residency: You may be asked to provide proof of residency in the form of a utility bill with your current address or other documentation.

Diagnostic Assessments: Documentation from your medical provider stating the types of medical testing the individual has received and their current diagnoses.

School Documents: Service plans and assessments from the individual’s school district (if applicable) which outline assessments completed, their diagnoses, and their goals. These can include the individual’s Multi-Factored Evaluation (MFE), Evaluation Team Report (ETR), Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and 504 Plan. Even if the individual is enrolled in an alternative to the public school system, they will likely have one or more of these documents. If not, consult with your local county board to determine if an alternative form of documentation may be sufficient for meeting intake eligibility criteria. 

Vaccination Records: For some county board programming, you may be required to provide medical documentation demonstrating that the individual is current on all necessary vaccinations. If the individual is unable to complete their vaccination schedule due to a medical condition or other factor, inquire whether there is a form of documentation that may be needed to waive this requirement.

Ohio Eligibility Determination Instrument (OEDI): This tool assesses a wide range of potential areas of need to determine eligibility for county board services. You will be required to complete this tool with the assistance of an SSA or other county board representative. The OEDI is for individuals ages 16 and older. The Children's OEDI, or COEDI, records information for children 6 to 15 years old.

4. Communicate areas of need

Once you are assigned an SSA, they will schedule a meeting to discuss your areas of need. Before this meeting, it is important that you write a list of problems or experiences your child is having where you might need assistance.
It is generally helpful to describe the individual’s areas of needs, rather than requesting a specific solution. There may be potential options you’ve not considered, or there may be a step-by-step process to access certain resources. Generally speaking, community-based alternative resources and lower cost options must be explored first. This is particularly common when accessing Waiver services.
Based on the individual’s age, areas of need, available programs and services and other factors, your county board will develop a service plan. The name of this plan may vary depending on a number of factors, but is generally referred to as an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). A service plan is written in a similar style as an IEP, but focuses on services from your County Board of Developmental Disabilities and their programming. The plan should be reviewed annually or when major changes occur in your child’s life (e.g. significant changes in diagnoses/health status, living arrangement, and/or areas of need).

5. Types of programs and services offered by the County Board of Developmental Disabilities

You are not expected to be an expert on your county board’s services and programs - your SSA should be able to assist you with exploring all options available to you. However, it can still be helpful to understand what services they generally offer so that you can be an informed advocate for your child. It is important to note that the programs available may differ based on county of residence, your child’s age, and areas of identified need, among other factors. 

Our Help Desk often assists families with these county board services. Please note this is not a comprehensive list, there may be other programs available.:

Family Support Dollars/NEON funding: Depending on your location, this program may go by different names. However, most Support Administrators will be aware of what you’re asking for if you request more information. This service is commonly used to pay for equipment, therapies, and other services when they are not covered by insurance. Common examples are music therapy, adapted sports programs, summer camps, safety and wandering supports, incontinence supplies, and nutritional supplies.
There are some exclusions to what this source of funding will cover, such as ABA Therapy. A complete listing of excluded services can be accessed by contacting your local county board. The level of funding provided is determined on an annual basis depending on your household income, available funds, and identified areas of need. For consumers under the age of 21, family taxable income is considered. For consumers over the age of 21, there is presently no requirement to report family taxable income.

Assistive Technology and Communication Supports: For individuals with communication differences, this service assists with accessing free or reduced cost communication devices. County boards frequently employ occupational therapists, speech therapists, sign language interpreters, and other experts who can collaborate with an individual and their family in order to enhance communication in home and community settings.   

Medicaid Waivers: This program pays for a wide array of services to keep an individual included in their community. However, wherever possible, community options must be attempted first. To put simply, this means that families should first seek out free and low cost options offered by product vendors and service providers in their area. Waivers exist to meet the needs of an individual when community options do not exist, are not appropriate for the individual’s needs, or there is an urgent situation that must be addressed to ensure the safety of the individual.
To determine eligibility, your SSA will ask you a series of questions from a needs-based assessment tool. This tool will provide you with an immediate response regarding your eligibility. When using or requesting Waiver funds, it is very important that you accurately describe the problem(s) and all solutions you’ve attempted, as well as the outcome of those attempts. If you are not found eligible during the initial assessment, you will be informed as to the reasons why. It is encouraged that you ask for a reassessment as the individual’s personal and family circumstances change. 

Early Intervention: Many county boards have partnered with Bright Beginnings/Help Me Grow (HMG) to provide home and community based therapeutic services and guidance to support the development of at-risk children under 3 years of age. These services include occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and guidance from a developmental specialist. This program has no cost for families and no income eligibility requirements.

Adult Transition, Employment, and Community-Based Alternative Programs: All county boards should provide a variety of services for both teens transitioning out of school and for adults. Services can include assistance with both competitive and supportive employment, as well as alternative options to work like day programs and community integration. Your county board should be involved in the transition planning and implementation while a student is in school. Other services needed to maintain community engagement and employment such as transportation or training can be addressed individually and may be able to be provided through a waiver, county board, or other agencies.  

Residential Services: For individuals that are in need of residential placement they should be openly communicating their needs with their county board Service & Support Administrator (SSA).  Minors are typically only placed in residential settings when there are no natural caregivers or if their behavioral needs are so intensive they pose a substantial threat to themselves or others. For families looking for residential options for an adult, they should ask about options, availability and funding needs as they look for housing placements.
After contacting your SSA, you will be provided with a list of appropriate options that may be able to accommodate areas of need. From this list, you will be able to tour facilities and make a decision about which of the available options may be best for your specific situation.  

Behavioral and Healthcare Services: Many county boards offer behavioral health services by partnering with local psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and therapists. Individual and family counseling options may also be available. Your county board may work with you to ensure that all implemented behavioral supports are the least restrictive they can be while still being effective. Through an individual’s Individualized Service Plan (ISP), new behavioral supports may also be identified.
County boards may offer other essential services and programs to support the growth and development of persons with disabilities. For example, the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities offers a Human Sexuality Education and Supports program. This program provides personalized sex education instruction to persons with disabilities and guidance to their families and community members.

Volunteer Opportunities and Community Programs: Most county boards will have opportunities available to individuals with disabilities to volunteer and develop self-advocacy and other skills. For example, Cuyahoga County has the Good Life Ambassador Program. These individuals build self-advocacy skills to provide quality education to private employers, service providers, and other groups on the nature of their disabilities, their strengths, and strategies to foster inclusion.
County boards may partner with outside groups, such as the Special Olympics or community therapeutic service providers, to offer adapted sports, cooking classes, and social/recreation opportunities. Your county board may also have a toy or accessibility equipment lending library. A complete listing of these opportunities should be available on your local county board website or by contacting your SSA. 

Maintaining Services: At certain intervals, you may be requested to complete a reassessment for service eligibility. This may include providing updated medical information and recompleting the Children's Ohio Eligibility Determination Instrument (COEDI) or the Ohio Eligibility Determination Instrument (OEDI). Even if you do not currently require assistance, it is important to provide the appropriate documentation as requested to maintain your connection to county board services. As an individual ages, new areas of need may become apparent as they begin to transition out of public school services and into higher education, training, and employment programs. 

Glossary of Terms: : As you connect with county board services, you may encounter terms or phrases that are not frequently used in day-to-day communication. A listing of many of these can be found on the Milestones website at https://www.milestones.org/resources/glossary.

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