Policy Research Brief: State IDD Agencies’ Views on Self-Directed Services


Self-direction allows people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to control most aspects of their home- and community-based services. Other names that states use for self-direction include participant-directed services and consumer-directed services. If the person with IDD is not able or does not want to direct their own services, they can have a family member direct their services for them. (This is also referred to as self-direction). Many people also self-direct some services while receiving other services from provider agencies.

Self-directed services have grown rapidly in recent years, rising from 39 states in 2015 to 47 states in 2022. State IDD agencies admire the flexibility of self-direction. It allows people to set their own schedules and hire their own staff, including friends and family—an advantage when service options are limited, as in rural areas. However, self-direction plans are complicated and therefore difficult for individuals to manage. It is also difficult for state IDD agencies to explain self-direction.


September 2023 
Volume 30, Number 6
Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL)


  • Community life
    • Consumer/self-directed services
  • Specific disability
    • Intellectual/developmental disability (IDD)