District of Columbia

District of Columbia


The District of Columbia enacted supported decision-making legislation in 2015, 2018, and 2021. There are no new supported decision-making bills pending. There is case law that specifically recognizes supported decision-making as a less restrictive alternative to guardianship

Guardianship Laws

Adult Guardianship Statute: 

D.C. Code §§ 21-2001 to 2077; 21-2401 to 2405.03

Supported Decision-Making

Supported Decision-Making Statute

  • Disability Services Reform Amendment Act of 2018
  • Special Education Student Rights Act of 2014:
    • Allows students over the age of 18 to create a special supported decision-making agreement for the purposes of making educational decisions, including decisions about special education services
    • Text of law: D.C. Code §§ 38-2571.04 (2021) [code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/titles/38/chapters/25C/]
    • Link to Enacted Bill: https://code.dccouncil.us/us/dc/council/laws/20-194#

State Legislation

  • Special Education Student Rights Act of 2014:
    • B. 20-0723, 20th Council Period, Reg. Sess. (D.C. 2015)
    • Description: Recognized that “student[s] who have[ve] reached 18 years of age may receive support from another competent and willing adult to aid them in their decision-making”
    • Status: Effective from 3/10/15
    • Public Link [lims.dccouncil.us/Legislation/B20-0723?FromSearchResults=true]
  • Disability Services Reform Amendment Act of 2018
    • B. 22-154, 22nd Council Period, Reg. Sess. (D.C. 2017) (Prior Bill: 2015 Bill Text DC B 385)
    • Description: Recognizes formal Supported Decision-Making Agreements and provides a model form.
    • Status: Effective on 5/5/18
    • Public Link [lims.dccouncil.us/Legislation/B22-0154?FromSearchResults=true]
  • Protecting Children and Vulnerable Adults Through Mandatory Reporting Amendment Act of 2021
    • 2021 DC L.B. 24-0253 (NS)
    • Description: among other things, amends D.C. Code § 7-2133 subsection (f)(1) to make D.C. employees mandatory reporters of abuse, neglect, and exploitation in supported-decision making agreements.
    • Status: 06/01/2021 – Referred to Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety with comments from the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities
    • Public link (https://lims.dccouncil.us/Legislation/B24-0253)

State Grant Programs

2018/2019 State Grantee: The District of Columbia Association of Special Education on behalf of the DC Family Support Council (not funded by NRC-SDM)
  • Summary: The DC Family Support Council (FSC) led an effort to create and pilot a SDM structure for people served by the Department of Disability Services and DC Office of Aging. This adapted and rolled out SDM educational materials to community partners and the other DC government agencies that serve youth with I/DD, older adults, and families. The FSC served as a convener and facilitator to bring together stakeholders to guide the process of crafting a structure for SDM and the roll-out at key agencies. This included sharing best practices and designing training for people with disabilities, families, community providers, and state staff. The FSC convened focus groups to get broad input into opportunities and perceived barriers to SDM, so that everyone (youth, adults, older adults with disabilities, family members, service providers, and state staff) could play a significant role in designing the trainings and SDM roll-out.   This project used NRC-SDM technical assistance for support in: creating a plan for introducing SDM and developing a replicable structure; designing a training of trainers; developing guiding conversations to engage organizations and partners (i.e., banks, health care providers, etc.); and learning how to talk to stakeholders about SDM, how to choose supporters and how to inform “gatekeepers” in the community.
  • NRC-SDM State Community of Practice DC Project: Final Report (August 30, 2019)
  • DC Family Support Council DC Agencies Project Products
  • Molly Whalen, Executive Director, DC Association for Special Education, mwhalen@dcase.org, 202-615-3070

Other Resources

Information Last Updated: June 16, 2023