DDS: Department of Developmental Services

The Department of Developmental Services is the state office that offers services to children with developmental disabilities and their families. Here's how they can help you.

This is the state office that offers services to children with developmental disabilities and their families.

Learn more:

  • These services are to help families care for their child at home, and take part in community activities.

  • They serve children and adults. You can apply at any age. But if your child has significant needs, it's much better if you apply before they turn 22. 

  • There is a process of applying. Once you have applied and your child is registered, you can get the services as long as they still qualify. Once they turn 18, they will have to re-apply for adult services.


Image with the subject 'What kinds of services does DDS offer?' The text below the subject is 'Education: Learn about your child's condition and how to cope with it through workshops and conferences. Respite Care: Find places and people who can take care of your child for a few hours (or a few days) to give your family a break. Recreational Activities: Your child can play with other kids who have developemental challenges. Support Groups: Both you and you child can talk with other people who are in your shoes.

Click the boxes below to learn more. (Click the link at the bottom of the page to download a 1-page description. It will open in a new tab or appear in the bottom corner of your screen.)

A person has to be a Massachusetts resident and have a documented Developmental Disability.

This is any condition that limits someone's ability to take care of themselves, starts when they are young and will probably affect them for their whole life. It includes autism!

It can be physical (like being blind) or intellectual. Intellectual or cognitive refers to how someone's mind works. If you have trouble thinking, learning and communicating in a typical way, these are cognitive or intellectual limitations.

Here is the DDS definition of developmental disability:


There are 4 regions of DDS in Massachusetts. Each one has a Regional Eligibility Team, who will be in charge of your application.

To apply for DDS services:

  1. Call your nearest DDS Office. Use this DDS Area Locator to find one near you. (Click on the underlined part to open this web page in a new window.)

  2. Tell them you want to apply for DDS services, and ask them which application to use.

  3. Click the links at the bottom of the page to download a PDF copy of the application you need.

The application will ask you for much of the same information that you have collected already for EI. If you have an EI binder, this will be easy!

What to expect:

  • You will get a call from a Regional Eligibility Team member.

  • They will schedule a meeting with you to go over your application.

  • They will make a decision within 60 days to see if your child qualifies. If they qualified for EI, they may also qualify for DDS services.

  • They will assign a coordinator to help you with your services.

For more information, call your local DDS office.   (Click on the underlined part to open the website in a new tab on your screen.)


Sources: EOHHS, MA DDS

 Learn more:

Go to these links to see pages from the Department of Developmental Services website. (They will open in new tabs.)