Ages 14-21: Services & Resources

When your child is between the ages of 16 to 21 there will be a lot of child to adulthood transitions you will need to make to ensure that your child is connected to the adult service systems that he or she may need. Systems you may interact with include:


Before your child becomes an adult at age 18, contact the Social Security Administration about disability benefits. Eligibility for financial assistance with supplemental security income, known as SSI, is the gateway to additional services, such as Medicaid.

Contact the Social Security Administration for more information and to apply for social security disability benefits once your son or daughter becomes an adult. Call toll-free 1-800-772-1213 or visit online at After applying, be sure to call the Social Security Administration monthly to follow up. They will not call you if there are problems with the application.

Anyone eligible for SSI is also entitled to receive Medicaid services. Medicaid provides health coverage, vision and some dental care. It also entitles eligible individuals to in-home care known as Personal Care. It provides assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, meal preparation and housework.


If your son or daughter is already receiving services through the Developmental Disabilities Administration, he or she may already be receiving Personal Care. If not, ask your case manager for a DDA assessment. Personal Care can be provided in your own home by individual or agency providers who are contracted with the state. As a parent, you can also become a Personal Care provider for your adult child. Contact your child’s case manager for more information about Personal Care.

If your child is not an eligible client of DDA, look in the state government blue pages of your phone book for a DDA regional office near you, and ask to speak to someone about intake and eligibility. If your child is not eligible for DDA, look in the state government blue pages for your local community services office to find out about eligibility for Medicaid and other Department of Social and Health Services.

DDA provides services for community-based supported living, companion home, group home and state operated living alternatives (or SOLAS). They are offered through home and community-based waivers, but enrollment is limited.

There are thousands of people waiting for waiver services such as employment and day programs. A waiver is an agreement to receive services in your own community rather than a state institution. Ask to have your child added to the “waiver enrollment database”.

Other out-of-home services include adult family homes and state-run residential habilitation centers. Adult family homes provide personal care and supervision in a licensed setting, but no habilitation or support to access the community. Residential habilitation centers are state-operated institutions founded before community alternatives were developed.


Other local resources to look for include local Arc chapters or activities and services available through the local parks and recreation department.

Local Arc chapters are active throughout the state. They provide information and referral, as well as advocacy. To find out if there’s an Arc near you, look in your local phone book or visit The Arc of Washington State website at for a listing of local Arcs.

Local parks and recreation departments administered by the county or city you live in offer many activities, such as Special Olympics or other community opportunities from bus tours to ballgames and classes. Look in the blue pages of your phone book for more details or call your local city or county information line. A local community college is another great resource to explore for personal enrichment and education.

In addition there will be decisions you will need to make in the areas of:


When your son or daughter reaches 18, you will need to consider what decision-making supports are needed. If your young adult needs more support in making independent choices, sometimes guardianship is an option. There are different kinds of guardianship, and some can be too restrictive. Be sure to weigh the options and consider the implications.

You can contact Disability Rights Washington for more information on supported decision making, guardianship, and protection your young adult’s rights in a guardianship You can reach Disability Rights Washington by calling 1-800-562-2702 or visit their website. Your local Parent to Parent or Arc chapter may also be able to point you in the right direction for guardianship needs.


Because life is so uncertain, and the needs of your child may not all be met, you may also want to think about creating a special needs trust.

Considerations in planning for the future may include wills and special needs trusts. One option for you to explore is the DD Endowment Trust Fund (ETF), administered by The Arc of Washington State. This public/private partnership creates a stable resource to enhance the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities.  For more information, call toll-free 1-888-754-8798 ext. 1.


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