Regional Center System in California

Regional Center System in California

Overview

Regional Centers are private non-profit corporations that contract with the California State Department of Developmental Services to provide and/or coordinate services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. Regional Centers assess the needs of the individual and determine eligibility for services.

There are 21 Regional Centers throughout California each serving a particular geographic area and approximately 240,000 children and adults statewide.

Services for children under age three are provided through the Regional Centers’ under the State of California Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS) Early Start Program. Services for individuals age 3 and older are also provided by the Regional Center under the guidance of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act. Each Regional Center is governed by rules outlined by their own board of directors, the specific contract rules of the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS), and the Lanterman Act.

Once eligibility is established, a case manager or Service Coordinator (SC) is assigned to that individual, also known as the "consumer". The SC develops a plan for obtaining the needed services, connects the family with the organizations providing the services, and monitors the progress of the individual. Most services and supports are free of charge regardless of age or income.

Early Start Eligibility (Birth to 23 months)

Infants and toddlers aged 0 – 23 months are eligible for early intervention services under these conditions:

  1. A developmental delay of at least 33% in one of these areas, also called domains:
    • Cognition
    • Communication
    • Social or Emotional
    • Adaptive (Self-help)
    • Physical (Gross motor and Fine motor)
  2. An established risk condition of known origin with a high probability that a developmental delay may result.
Source: 17 California Code of Regulations, 52022.California Government Code 95014. Welfare and Institutions Code 4642.

Early Start Eligibility (24 – 35 months)

Toddlers aged 24 – 35 months are eligible for early intervention services if they have a developmental delay of at least 50% in one of these areas, also called domains or a developmental delay of at least 33% in two or more domains:

  • Cognition
  • Communication
  • Social or Emotional
  • Adaptive (Self-help)
  • Physical (Gross motor and Fine motor)

Early Start: Regional Center Timeline (0-35 months)

The Regional Center has 45 days from the date of the initial parent contact, or agency/physician referral to complete the initial evaluation and assessment for eligibility, and develop the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for those who are determined eligible.

Source: 17 California Code of Regulations, 52086. California Government Code 95020

Early Start: Regional Center Services and Supports (0-35 months)

  • Family Training and Counseling
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Behavior Intervention Services
  • Psychological Services
  • Service Coordination
  • Medical Services for Diagnostic Purposes
  • Early Identification, Screening and Assessment
  • Vision services
  • Assistive Technology Services and Devices
Source: IDEA, Part C, 632(E)

Prevention Resource & Referral Service (0-35 months)

If the child is not eligible for Early Start services, the Regional Center will determine if a referral to Prevention Resource & Referral Services (PRRS) is appropriate based on the child's risk factors. Children are assigned with parental consent to the PRRS program. PRRS is offered by the local Family Resource Center (FRC) which is an independent non-profit agency often operating within or near the Regional Center location.

The PRRS program offers:

  • Information
  • Resources
  • Referrals
Source: Welfare and Institutions Code 4435.1.

Lanterman Act Eligibility (Age 3 and older)

The Lanterman Act provides ongoing services for individuals age 3 and older, if:

  1. The individual has a diagnosed developmental disability in one of these categories:
    • Intellectual Disability
    • Cerebral Palsy
    • Epilepsy
    • Autism
    • Fifth Category: a disabling condition closely related to mental retardation or requiring similar treatment to individuals with mental retardation
  2. The developmental disability originated prior to age 18
  3. The prognosis is expected to continue indefinitely
  4. The developmental disability is responsible for a significant and substantial limitation in three or more functional areas as appropriate to the person’s age:
    • Learning
    • Receptive/Expressive language
    • Self-Care
    • Self-Direction
    • Mobility
    • Capacity for Independent Living (beginning around age 6)
    • Economic Self-Sufficiency (beginning around age 18)
Source: 17 California Code of Regulations 54000, 54001. Welfare and Institutions Code 4512(a), 4512(1).

Lanterman Act: Regional Center Timelines (3+)

Initial intake shall be performed within 15 business days following the request for assistance. This initial intake determines whether a formal assessment is called for. Thereafter, the Regional Center has 120 calendar days to determine eligibility. However, if the delay would result in a risk to the person’s health and safety, the Regional Center will determine eligibility within 60 days.

Lanterman Act: Regional Center Services and Supports (3+)

The services and supports that Regional Centers provide include, but are not limited to, those listed below. View a complete list of services.

  • Adult day program
  • Behavior intervention services
  • Crisis intervention services
  • Day care
  • Durable/non-durable medical equipment
  • Independent/Supported living
  • Licensed residential options
  • Respite
  • Supported employment
  • Transportation services

Transitioning from Under 3 to 3+ Services

When a "high-risk" child turns three, the Regional Center will complete a new assessment. If the child is "substantially disabled" by at least 3 of the conditions listed in Lanterman Act 3+ Eligibility, the child can continue receiving Regional Center services. If not, then services will terminate.

Contacting the Regional Center

Directory of Regional Centers

Go to the State of California Department of Developmental Services website or call their Toll-free phone number (800)515-BABY (2229).

For More information

State of California Department of Developmental Services
State Council on Developmental Disabilities
Disability Rights California (English)
Disability Rights California (Spanish)