Use of State Institutions for People with Intellectual Disabilities in the United States

Use of State Institutions for People with Intellectual Disabilities in the United States (2005). Nelis, T. & Rizzolo, M.

This brief reports the number of people with I/DD living in state-operated institutions in each state.  It also reports the total number of people with I/DD living in different types of residential settings in the United States.

State Institution Banner
The first institutional program in the United States for people with intellectual disabilities was opened in 1848. It was designed to teach skills to people so they could return to the community. The number of people living in these institutions grew quickly and by 1967 there were 194,650 people living there.

For almost 40 years, the number of people in state institutions has been going down. More people are getting support in the community. However, in 2004, there were still 41,214 people with intellectual disabilities living in state-operated institutions across the United States (see table on right). Alaska, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia are not listed in the table because they have no state-operated institutions.

Today, people with intellectual disabilities can get residential support in many different kinds of places. The chart on the next page shows how many people live in each kind of setting.

State Institution Table
State Institution Chart

State-Operated Institutions
  • Nine states do not have state-operated institutions

Settings for 7-15 Persons include:
  • Larger Group Homes

Private 16+ Settings include:
  • Private Institutions
  • Nursing Homes

Supported Living is where:
  • The person chooses who they want to live with and where they live
  • The place they live is not owned by a service provider
  • The person’s support plan changes as their needs change

Other Settings for 1-6 Persons include:
  • Group Homes
  • Apartments
  • Small ICFs/MR
  • Foster Care

For more information: or call: (303) 492-0639

The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Project is funded in part by The Administration on Developmental Disabilities, the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities. The authors of this brief, Tia Nelis & Mary C. Rizzolo, are affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, one of the University of Colorado’s partners in The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Project.

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