Regional Centers in California
What are Regional Centers?
As a result of the 1969 Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act, Department of Developmental Services (DDS), CA created twenty-one Regional Centers to coordinate lifelong services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. Regional Centers are private, nonprofit community based agencies which serve distinct geographic areas in California. Each Regional Center is governed by a volunteer board of directors which hires a Regional Center executive director and sets policies for the administrative, operational and purchase-of-service functions of that Regional Center. Regional Centers are funded from the California General Fund and the Federal Medicaid program.
http://www.dds.ca.gov/RC/RCList.cfm provides directory of regional centers. The link also provides option to lookup Regional Centers by County and Zip Code Lookup for Regional Centers in LA.
Who is eligible for services from Regional Center?
The local Regional Center staff can evaluate to determine eligibility. To be eligible for services (a) the individual must have a developmental disability that begins before the individual’s 18th birthday (b) the disability is expected to be life long and (c) the disability is substantial. Individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and other disabling conditions found to be closely related to intellectual disabilities may be eligible for services from Regional Centers.
Call 1-800-515-BABY (2229) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find a regional center in your area and make a referral for a child three years or younger.
Visit Early Start Central Directory for more details.
http://www.dds.ca.gov/RC/RCList.cfm provides directory of regional centers. Contact your local regional center for evaluating an individual above three years of age for eligibility.
What are the services offered by Regional Centers?
After an individual is assessed for eligibility and found eligible for services, a case manager or service coordinator is assigned to help develop a plan for services. Most of these services are free however; there may be a requirement to access insurance or other generic resources for addressing the needs of an individual with disabilities.
Services vary based on the age and needs of the individual. A child three years of age or younger may be eligible for either the Prevention Program or the Early Intervention Program.
Details on eligibility criteria for Prevention Program visit http://www.dds.ca.gov/PreventionProgram/Index.cfm
Local Regional Centers Prevention Plan http://www.dds.ca.gov/PreventionProgram/RCPreventionPlans.cfm
Prevention Plan is implemented primarily by Family Resource Centers with the intention of providing trainings to parents and monitoring child development.
Early Intervention Program in CA is offered to families whose children are three years old or younger and have (a) developmental delay or disability or (b) an established risk condition with a high probability of resulting in a developmental disability
Early Intervention Program can be offered by the local Regional Center or local school district.
Details on eligibility criteria and possible services for a child who is eligible for Early Intervention visit http://www.dds.ca.gov/EarlyStart/WhatsES.cfm
If a child is in Early Intervention Program, an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) is developed which states (a) priorities, concerns and resources available to the family (b) child’s current areas of needs and strengths (c) outcomes for the child and family for next six months and (d) services offered along with the funding source.
For more information on IFSP process visit http://www.dds.ca.gov/title17/T17SectionTOC.cfm?SubchapterID=12
For individuals three years and older, Regional Centers help plan, access, coordinate and monitor services for individuals who have developmental disabilities and live in California. These services are provided to meet the goals and objectives outlined in the Individual Program Plan (IPP).
Discover the IPP process at http://www.dds.ca.gov/RC/RCipp.cfm
Regional Centers are mandated to serve persons with developmental disabilities and provide these services in the “most cost-effective manner possible”. The Lanterman Act requires Regional Centers to use all other sources of funding and services before using regional center funds to provide services. As a result of this an individual served by a Regional Center may be asked to access their insurance, local education authority, California Department of Social Services, California Children Services and other agencies prior to funding by Regional Center for required support services.
For more information on some of the services and supports provided by Regional Centers, visit http://www.dds.ca.gov/RC/RCSvs.cfm
Why should I participate in services offered by the Regional Centers?
For families of children three years and younger, who are eligible for Early Intervention services, the Regional Centers coordinate educational services as stated in Part C of the Federal Act IDEA. If appropriate, Regional Center representative will make arrangements to have the child assessed and coordinate appropriate services with your written permission. The family may also receive information about local resources, support groups and other agencies addressing the needs of a child.
For individuals three years and older, Regional Centers help coordinate and access services such as living arrangements, supports needed, day program, education services, supported employment, In-Home support services, supported employment to name a few.
For more information about Programs and Services, click on the following link: http://www.dds.ca.gov/rc/ProgramSvcs.cfm
Is there a process for complaints and appeals?
There are a number of formal processes established by Department of Developmental Services to address problems and complaints. For a list of these processes click on
In general, if an individual consumer or any representative acting on behalf of a consumer, believes that any rights has been wrongly or unfairly denied by a Regional Center or a service provider, use the Consumer Rights Complaint Process. http://www.dds.ca.gov/Complaints/Complt_CR.cfm provides details on this mechanism.
The Fair Hearing process is for resolving disagreements about eligibility, the nature, scope or amount of services and supports. This link http://www.dds.ca.gov/Complaints/Complt_FH.cfm provides mechanism for the Fair Hearing process.
For resolving issues relating to disputes between Regional Centers and representatives of children three years and younger. http://www.dds.ca.gov/Complaints/Complt_ES.cfm
Early Start Mediation Conference Request is to informally resolve disagreements between parents and regional centers or local education agency. For details visit http://www.dds.ca.gov/Complaints/Complt_ESMediation.cfm
Early Start Due Process Hearing Request addresses disputes between family and Regional Center and/or local education agency related to identification, evaluation, assessment, placement or services. For details http://www.dds.ca.gov/Complaints/Complt_ESdueprocess.cfm