DDD and True North

*** Disclaimer: The meeting with DDD occurred last month. You might not see the changes described until this plan rolls out State wide. It will probably be two months before your Service Coordinator is informed of these changes. Please don’t ask your vendors or service coordinators about the information in this blog. After reading it, you will know more than they do. 😉 Changes are coming, please be patient while they work through the pilot and the State wide implementation.

I know, I know, I know we all have our own: battles, relationships, and opinion regarding DDD.

For some, DDD is easy. They get all the services they need/ask for. For some, DDD is tenuous. Sometimes they get what they need/ask for and sometimes they don’t. For others, DDD is the enemy and they have all but given up on it.

Last month we lost a battle with DDD , but we gained allies and understood why the DDD representatives made the choice that they did.

This month I was invited to be a parent representative at a week long DDD initiative that looked to change the way DDD operates so that they could achieve True North.

What is True North? Well if we are going to be scientific about it True North is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “the direction towards the top of the Earth along an imaginary line at an angle of 90 degrees to the equator.”

For companies it is something different. It is a guiding principle. For every decision that a company makes they should ask themselves… does this help us achieve our True North?

This is DDD’s True North: All Arizonans who qualify receive timely DES services and achieve their potential.

At this point DDD knows it has not been successful in achieving True North. Currently there are thousands of unassigned authorizations in the DDD system. This means that thousands of its members have been identified as needing a service (therapy, habilitation, or respite) but aren’t getting them. And I would know. My son is one of them.

In an earlier post I wrote about Jackson having an hour of speech removed from his service plan but I didn’t disclose that he has also been authorized for Physical Therapy and has been on a wait list for over a year.

This is a major problem and is one of the reasons why many parents have given up on DDD.  I get it. I understand where you are, how you feel, and I have seen first hand the removal of a needed service for my son, and the inability to fill a service for my son.

But… here is the thing. They know there is a problem and they are dedicated to fixing it.

At the meeting this week we identified many issues with the current system and came up with solutions. These solutions will change how the service coordinators screen for needed therapies, how the vendors assign hours for services, and how parents are communicated with.

Let’s look at these one by one.

Service Coordinators:-

In the past, the service coordinators didn’t have consistent guidance on how to: conduct meetings with the parents, how to screen for services, and how to help families set expectations for the services they would receive and when re-evaluations would need to be done.

During this meeting we created a document for the service coordinators to use to help them screen for service evaluations. This guide also provides families members with a description of each service, exclusions for services, evaluation triggers, and discharge criteria.


When therapies are assigned in the current system it usually goes like this… the service coordinator will assess your child based on their knowledge of developmental milestones and decide whether your child should get an evaluation done or whether they think services should be given. Then usually they are given 1 hour of therapy for 52 weeks. But this is not how the real work operates. So what is changing?

Services coordinators will now be given guidelines to see if a member should be given an evaluation for speech/OT/PT. Based on the outcome of a few short questions they will determine if an evaluation is necessary. After the evaluation the therapist will come up with a Plan of Care. This plan of care will have more flexibility in it. We still don’t know exactly what this will look like- we are waiting for approvals from other departments- but the hope is that we move away from the 1-hour/52 week way of thinking.


When parents come into this system they really don’t know what to expect and the communication from DDD is almost non-existent. We know we can get services 1-hour/52 weeks. We know that we have to meet with our service coordinators (but don’t really care because the meetings are seemingly pointless), and we aren’t given a vision for our child.

Seeing the need for greater communication with families the committee is dedicated to giving parents a clearer understanding of: why certain evaluation are being done, the results of those evaluations, the Plan of Care which will be developed, and the end goal of the therapies.

The hope is that the parents, service coordinators, and therapists work together to create an integrated care program for its members. 

This will be a dramatic change in how DDD operates and it will take some time to implement. The men and women who were a part of this committee meeting were very passionate about their work and about helping our children. They are committed to achieving True North.

All Arizonans who qualify receive timely DES services and achieve their potential.

And it is my hope that by the end of the year we will get there.

Comments on DDD and True North

  1. Susie Turrey says:

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information! I will be going to the next DDD Forum on Wednesday, April 24th in Mesa.

    1. Michele says:

      That’s wonderful. I’d love to hear how that goes. I’ve heard good information has been coming from those meetings.

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