Projects of National Significance (PNS) focus on the most pressing issues affecting people with developmental disabilities and their families, creating and enhancing opportunities for these individuals to contribute to, and participate in, all facets of community life. Through PNS, ACL supports the development of national and state policy and awards grants and contracts that enhance the independence, productivity, inclusion, and integration of people with developmental disabilities.
Current PNS priorities include improving state employment policies and employment outcomes of individuals with developmental disabilities, collecting data on family support and service outcomes, and providing technical assistance and training for AIDD network entities. One project is currently collecting and analyzing data on individual and service outcomes and family services and supports.
Short-Term Projects, Long-Term Differences
Projects are typically short term (1–5 years) and address critical issues. PNS funds have supported families, increased community living options, assisted with family leadership development, and increased opportunities for involving self-advocates in systems change initiatives.
Supporting Emerging Needs
PNS projects enable more rapid response to emerging issues by targeting unserved or underserved areas, with the intent of eventually implementing programs on a broader, national level. Program activities include helping individuals develop self-advocacy and leadership skills, creating opportunities for economic development in communities, and developing initiatives to improve individuals’ employment outcomes. For example, the Autism NOW project collects and disseminates the most current information and resources on autism through its website to empower individuals and their families.
Ongoing Longitudinal Data Collection
PNS funds support national long-term data collection projects that help policymakers, service providers, and individuals with developmental disabilities and their families make the most informed policy and individual care decisions. These studies allow for an overarching, higher-level evaluation of the conditions of individuals with developmental disabilities in the United States.