Most people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (ID/DD) in the United States live with family members or in homes they own or lease, alone or with friends. They receive support from family members, friends, or paid support givers in their homes and communities. A minority of people with ID/DD receive long-term supports and services (LTSS) from paid caregivers in settings such as host or family foster homes, group homes, or institutions.

This entry begins with a brief description of institutions and deinstitutionalization. It goes on to describe the deinstitutionalization movement that began with large state-operated ID/DD institutions in the 1960s. It briefly summarizes key events, state and federal legislative changes, and judicial findings that supported deinstitutionalization efforts. It ends with a look at contemporary challenges and recent changes in supporting individuals with ID/DD in noninstitutional community settings.

Suggested Citation

Larson, S. A. (2018). Deinstitutionalization. In E. Braaten (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of intellectual and developmental disorders (pp. 335–360). Retrieved from


Book Chapter 
Sheryl A Larson or +1 612-624-6024
SAGE Publications, Inc.


  • Housing and residential services
    • Institutions and deinstitutionalization