Where Do I Start?

A developmental disability is defined in federal and state law as a severe and chronic disability attributable to a mental or physical impairment other than mental illness, manifested before age 22, likely to continue indefinitely, and resulting in substantial functional limitations in major life activities according to Ohio Revised Code 5123.01 and Federal Public Law 106-402.

To initiate the eligibility process for ages birth through 3 years of age, a referral must be made to Northwest Ohio Early Intervention at (419) 665-3322 or fill out the online referral form HERE. For ages 3 and above call the Service and Support Administration at, (419) 782-6621. Individuals and guardians will be directed to obtain documentation to confirm a developmental disability. The individual or guardian must sign consent forms if records are needed from the community.

What are the Steps in Determining Eligibility?

Step 1 – Call

Call (419) 782-6621 and ask for the Eligibility Department. If the person is younger than 3, contact Northwest Ohio Early Intervention at (419) 782-6934.

Early Intervention

Referrals into the Defiance County Board of DD’s Early Intervention program are coordinated by the Help Me Grow Office. Once a referral is made to the Help Me Grow Office, screenings and a developmental assessment are done to determine if the infant or toddler has a delay. The written evaluation will discuss the child’s strengths and needs. A family assessment is also done to help determine what the family’s strengths and needs are in relationship to the infant or toddler.

To contact the Help Me Grow Office for further information or to inquire about services, please call 419-782-6934.

Preschool & School Age Programs

Referrals for entrance into Good Samaritan’s preschool and school age programs must come from the school districts. Eligibility criteria is based upon the special education rules of the Ohio Department of Education.

Step 2 – Provide Proof of Disability

For ages 3-5 years old
Documentation of at least two developmental delays or established risk. This can usually be documented through the child’s individualized Education Plan (IEP), Evaluation Team Report, or medical records.

For ages 6 and over
The eligibility process in Ohio is a two-step process:

1. Diagnosis verification

  • An item list will be sent indicating the required paperwork needed to begin the process.
  • A qualifying diagnosis of a developmental disability must meet the following criteria:
    1. Onset of disability must be documented prior to age 22.
    2. Diagnosis must be made by a licensed, qualified professional and be supported by the appropriate diagnostic assessments.
    3. The disability must be likely to continue indefinitely.
  • The diagnosis must be a physical or mental impairment other than mental illness.
  • Examples of acceptable diagnoses and documentation:
    1. Intellectual Disability: Psychological evaluation by Ph.D. which includes both IQ scores and adaptive functioning scores.
    2. Down Syndrome: Medical documentation signed by MD.
    3. Autism Spectrum Disorder: Comprehensive evaluation incorporating clinically appropriate assessment tools used to diagnose ASD signed by MD or Ph.D.
    4. Seizure Disorder: Current medical documentation signed by MD.
    5. Cerebral Palsy: Medical documentation signed by MD.
  • Examples of educational terms/informal labels that are not acceptable as qualifying diagnoses for ages 6 and over include: global developmental delay, Borderline Intellectual Functioning, Cognitive delay/disability, non-specific learning disabilities, and any diagnosis using the terms ‘featuring of’ or ‘history of’ a certain disorder.

    Step 3 – Visit and Interview

    Administration of the COEDI or OEDI
    Once the diagnosis is verified, either the COEDI (Children’s Ohio Eligibility Determination Instrument) or OEDI (Ohio Eligibility Determination Instrument) is completed by a trained Assessor. The COEDI and OEDI are screening instruments developed by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and are used to determine if an individual has substantial functional limitations in major life areas. If the person has a qualifying diagnosis and at least three (3) areas of substantial functional limitations according to the COEDI or OEDI, then the person is eligible for services through the Defiance County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The limitations are listed below:

    • COEDI – Ages 6-15
      Mobility / Self Care / Self Direction / Capacity for Independent Living / Learning / Receptive and Expressive Language
    • OEDI – Ages 16 and over
      Mobility / Self Care / Self Direction / Capacity for Independent Living / Learning / Receptive and Expressive Language / Economic Self Sufficiency (16 and over)

    Eligibility is redetermined at ages 3, 6 and 16. This means you or your family member might not always be eligible for services. You have the right to appeal if you do not agree with the results of the eligibility review.

      Step 4 – Eligible or Not Eligible

      Our goal is to complete the process in 45 days, but this depends on how quickly the family or support person provides records confirming a developmental disability. You will receive a letter in the mail stating if you are eligible to receive services or not.

      What Happens After I am Found Eligible?

      After the individual or legal guardian is notified of the eligibility status, they will be referred for the identified services available through the County Board.


      When is Eligibility Re-determined?

      If a developmental disability is confirmed by fulfilling the diagnosis verification reviewed above, an Intake Evaluator meets with the individual and others to administer the State mandated evaluation tool (C/OEDI) to assess the impact of the individual’s disability on his/her functional abilities.

      The State of Ohio requires that eligibility be re-determined when an individual turns 3, 6, and 16 years old. It may also be done when a qualifying diagnosis changes, functional skills change, following an extended “break” in services, or on an annual basis as requested by any member of the IP team. Also, if you move to another county, your eligibility status may be re-determined. You will maintain your current eligibility status until the re-determination occurs in the new county of residence.


      If eligible, services can begin. If not, staff will help you find other options.