DSPD - Part 1


The Division of Services for People with Disabilities is the state agency in Utah that is charged with promoting opportunities and providing support to people with disabilities. Funding comes from the state legislature and the federal Medicaid program. Population: Any age with disabilities as specified

DSPD Mission

The Mission of the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD) is to promote opportunities and provide supports for persons with disabilities to lead self-determined lives. DSPD also promotes public awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities.

DSPD serves individuals with multiple disabilities. Most have mental retardation or developmental disabilities. Eligible clients have a severe, chronic disability and substantial functioning limitation in seven major life-functioning areas. Individuals over 18 who may have a brain injury and a physical disability may be served.


Children and adults may be eligible for DSPD services if they have the following qualifying disabilities:

  • Mental retardation: a disorder in which a person's overall intellectual functioning is well below average--an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 70 or less. Individuals with mental retardation have a significantly impaired ability to cope with common life demands and lack some daily living skills expected of people in their age group and culture. The impairment may interfere with learning, communication, self-care, independent living, social interaction, play, work, and safety. Mental retardation appears in childhood, before age 18.
  • Cerebral palsy: a medical condition caused by a permanent brain injury that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. It is characterized by a lack of muscle control and body movement.
  • Autism: a disorder of brain function that appears early in life before the age of 3. Children with autism have problems with social interaction, communication, imagination, and behavior.
  • Severe epilepsy: a chronic brain disorder that causes seizures, characterized by a variety of symptoms including uncontrolled body movements, disorientation or confusion, or loss of consciousness. Epilepsy may result from a head injury, stroke, brain tumor, lead poisoning, genetic conditions, or severe infections.
  • Acquired brain injury: the result of a traumatic injury to the head or a stroke, hypoxia, toxic exposure, or intracranial surgery that results in substantial impairment in cognitive abilities or physical functioning.
  • Adults with physical disabilities who cannot use 2 or more limbs.
  • and if they have severe functional limitations that are likely to continue throughout their life in three or more of the following life activity areas:
  • Self-care: a person requires assistance or training in eating, toileting, bathing, dressing or grooming.
  • Receptive and expressive language: a person who lacks functional communication and does not demonstrate an understanding of simple two-step requests.
  • Learning: see Mental Retardation above.
  • Mobility: a person who requires assistive devices to be mobile and who cannot evacuate themselves in an emergency.
  • Self-direction: a person who is significantly below average in making appropriate decisions relating to safety, legal, financial, or residential issues or someone who has been legally declared incompetent.
  • Capacity to live independently: a person who does not have the basic survival skills necessary to live in the community or someone who is a significant danger to themselves or others.
  • Capacity to become economically self-sufficient: An adult who receives disability benefits or who is unable to work 20 hours a week or is paid less than minimum wage without employment support.

Applying for Services

Contact the Region DSPD Office in your area to begin the application process (see chart below). An intake worker will explain the information required and the associated timeframes for submitting the needed information. This information may include:

  • Form 19 (Division's eligibility for services document), signed by a physician or psychologist, which certifies the diagnosis and severity of disability.
  • Inventory for Client and Agency Planning (ICAP) form that identifies skills, deficits, and problem behaviors.
  • Social history
  • Psychological or medical evaluation

The intake worker uses this information to:

  • Determine eligibility;
  • Determine Medicaid eligibility;
  • Identify needed services and supports; and
  • Place people on the waiting list if funds for services are not immediately available. Services are provided to those with the most critical needs first when funding is available. DSPD receives funding through appropriations from the legislature. More often than not, DSPD is not able to offer immediate services to eligible individuals so they are placed on the waiting list. Currently, there are about 1,900 people waiting for services for which funding is not available.

DSPD determines how critical the need is by using a standardized evaluation called the Needs Assessment. Members of local committees assess an individual based on a variety of factors including:

  • severity of disability and problem behaviors exhibited;
  • family's strengths and weaknesses;
  • special medical needs;
  • health and safety issues;
  • availability of other resources;
  • projected deterioration of disability without services; ? length of time without services.
  • A 'needs' score is established which indicates the level of need. People with the highest scores have the first priority for services. This score determines a person?s rank order on the waiting list. The Needs Assessment can be redone if a person's situation changes or there is a suspected change in one or more of the above factors. Contact your intake worker to request another assessment.

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