The Regional Center System for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

December 3, 2015 - 2 minutes read

California’s service delivery system for persons with developmental disabilities makes use of “regional centers.”  A Regional Center is a local non-profit corporation that contracts with the state of California to provide the services and supports described in the Lanterman Act to persons with developmental disabilities. While regional centers do provide some direct services, such as case management and assessments to determine eligibility, they purchase services from vendors, as necessary to implement an individualized program plan. 

California’s Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act.

The regional center system began in 1977, with the enactment of California’s Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (the “Lanterman Act“).  This system is composed of twenty-one independent, non-profit corporations, under contract with and funded by the Department of Developmental Services, which provides “fixed points of contact” with the community. Provision of services is limited to persons with developmental disabilities. {§ 4620 et seq.; Association for Retarded Citizens v. Department of Developmental Services, (1985) 38 Cal.3d 389, 389-390.}

Each of the regional centers comprising the system provides consultation, funding and development of services and supports which allow persons with developmental disabilities to be as integrated as possible into the community.  The funding to purchase the services is provided by the state of California, which is utilized by way of each regional center’s purchase of service process to secure programming. Regional Center case managers, called “Consumer Services Coordinators,” provide assistance in planning, locating appropriate services, making funding requests and other case management type tasks.

The Goal of the Lanterman Act.

A central goal of the Act is to prevent the institutionalization of persons with developmental disabilities.  {§§ 4500.5-4501.} One way in which implementation of this goal is furthered is by not only including the family in the process, but by assuring that it is the consumer and his or her family who “shall have a leadership role in service design.” {§ 4501.} The Act is also outcome oriented; it requires that services be “effective in meeting the goals stated in the individual program plan.” {§ 4646(a).} The mere existence and delivery of services is not enough — service agencies [regional centers] must produce evidence that their services have resulted in consumer or family empowerment.” {§ 4501.}


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