The following summarizes the United Cerebral Palsy’s annual study of the special needs programs and resources available across the country. For more information and access to the entire study, visit

The Case For Inclusion 2015 report is the broadest and most interesting national study of special needs services we have found. They have been publishing similar reports annually since 2006 and have implemented more thorough measures since 2014. The major areas of evaluation used to calculate the rankings include promoting independence, tracking community involvement and safety, keeping families together, promoting productivity, and reaching those in need of services.

The 2015 study highlights some new national declines in providing services and again provides a somber assessment of the services being provided on a national basis to individuals with special needs. While we encourage readers to review the study in more detail, we did want to highlight the major findings.

The relatively positive findings include:

  • 14 states have no large state institutions secluding those with disabilities – another 10 states have only one. This is unchanged from the prior year. (Illinois made no additional closures this year.)
  • The majority of states (42) participate in a national quality assurance program called the National Core Indicators. This program provides a thorough evaluation of each individual’s health, safety and quality of life. (Illinois is a participating state.)

Among the disappointments illustrated in the results are the following:

  • The number of people nationally on waiting lists for services has increased from last year to more than 322,000. (Illinois still has well over 20,000 individuals on their PUNS waiting list.)
  • The number of states serving at least 80% of their ID/DD population and dedicating 80% or more of their spending on community-based services has declined from 38 to 32 states since last year.
  • The number of states that have at least one-third of their individuals with ID/DD working in competitive employment situations has dropped from 17 in 2007 to 10 last year to just 8 in this most current study.
  • Since 2007, when UCP began issuing their composite state rankings, four states: Arkansas (#49), Illinois (#47), Mississippi (#51), and Texas (#50) have consistently ranked at the bottom.

While moving your family or your adult family member with a disability to a state with better resources and more comprehensive services may not be practical, the following tables highlight the UCP composite rankings of the states.

The Five Best States

  1. Arizona
  2. Maryland
  3. Missouri
  4. New York
  5. Hawaii

The Five Worst States

  1. Mississippi
  2. Texas
  3. Arkansas
  4. Montana
  5. Illinois

Largest Ranking Increase Since 2007

  1. District of Columbia (49th to 8th)
  2. Missouri (41st to 3rd)
  3. Ohio (48th to 10th)
  4. Maryland (33rd to 2nd)
  5. Kentucky (40th to 19th)

Largest Ranking Decrease Since 2007

  1. Alaska (2nd to 40th)
  2. Montana (19th to 48th)
  3. Wyoming (17th to 45th)
  4. New Mexico (13th to 36th)
  5. Delaware (14th to 35th)
  6. Idaho (25th to 46th)

There appears to be no common list of characteristics among the states that rank among the best or the worst; the populations, political leanings, and state tax rates all vary significantly.

Please find important disclosures about this resource HERE.