Understanding the System
Responsibilities & FunctionParents with a developmentally disabled child who live in the state of California have a wide variety of services and service providers available to them. It is a challenge, however, to know when and how to interact with all these agencies.
The following is a brief description of several different agencies who may be integral in helping you find services for your child:
Regional CentersRegional Centers are non-profit corporations created by the Lanterman Act to serve people that fall within the state definition of being developmentally disabled. They contract with the State Department of Developmental services and there are twenty-one regional centers throughout California. Each Regional Centers serves a different geographical area.
State of California Definition of a Developmental Disability:
"Developmental Disability" means a Disability that is attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, other conditions similar to mental retardation that require treatment similar to that required by mentally retarded individuals.The Developmental Disability shall:
Responsibilities & FunctionsGenerally, Regional Centers are responsible to act as a central point in the community from which a person with disabilities and his or her family can obtain or be referred for needed services. One of the most important services of the Regional Center is the assignment of a Case Manager and the development with the Consumer and their family, of an Individual Program Plan (IPP). The IPP is a written plan for obtaining those services needed by the consumer, whether the services are provided by the regional center or by another agency.
Other services Regional Centers provide include case finding activities, diagnostic evaluations, prevention and public awareness programs, and coordination and assistance with the development of other community services.
For information on the Regional Center assigned to your area, call The Program Services Department at the Department of Developmental Services, 916-654-1958.
Area BoardsThe Area Boards are part of the system created by the Lanterman Act. There are 13 Area Boards located throughout the State of California. Because they receive federal funds, they serve people who fall within both state and federal definitions of having a developmental disability.
EligibilityFor the State definition of a developmental disability see the Regional Center information above.
The Federal definition of "developmentally disabled" means a severe, chronic disability of a person which;
Responsibilities & Functions
Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)AB 1250 requires all school districts and county school offices to form geographical regions to provide for all special education service needs of those residing within the regions boundaries. Each region's Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) develops a plan describing how it would provide special education services.
Each SELPA must have an Administrative Unit within the legal entity that is responsible for seeing that every eligible child receives appropriate services. Each region determines the funds available and the responsibilities.
Responsibilities & Functions
For information about SELPA offices call 916-323-4768
Mental Health ServicesThe Department of Mental Health is the department mandated by Lanterman-Petris-Short legislation to administer mental health programs for the citizens of California. Each county provides its own plan and is responsible to provide services.
EligibilityAny child, youth or adult who is emotionally, mentally or behaviorally disordered is eligible for mental health services, regardless of their ability to pay. People will be billed on a sliding scale basis that takes into consideration income, number of people in the home, expenses, etc.
Under AB3632/AB 882, the state interagency agreement that provides for free Mental Health Services when referrals for a Mental Health Assessment are made by the IEP Team. Any services provided by Mental Health that are required by the IEP are exempt from financial eligibility standards.
Responsibilities & Function
Department of RehabilitationThe Vocational Rehabilitation Program provides vocation rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities that will enable them to enter or return to employment.
EligibilityAn individual must:
The Habilitation Services Program is responsible for establishing program guidelines, and monitoring and funding community based programs that are designed to prepare developmentally disabled adults for competitive employment; to prepare and maintain them at their highest level of vocational functioning; or to prepare them for referral to vocational rehabilitation services.