What are regional centers?

There are 21 regional centers in California, each one covering a specific geographical area. Regional centers are private, independent non-profit corporations contracted by the State of California through the Department of Developmental Services to coordinate lifelong services and supports for people with developmental disabilities and their families.  Regional centers also help support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families by identifying local resources and other community-based services that can address the individual’s identified support needs.

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Who is eligible for services through the regional centers?

Regional centers are responsible for administering programs for the State of California, each of which has different eligibility requirements that have specific legal and clinical definitions.

  • Lanterman Act:To be eligible for services and supports under California’s Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, adults and children aged 3 and older must have a developmental disability.
  • Early Start services: Created by the Early Intervention Services Act, California’s Early Start program serves infants and young children under age three who are considered “high risk” for a developmental disability due to, for example, significant delay in one or more developmental areas or certain medical problems and complications.

What is a developmental disability?

A developmental disability is defined as a disability that is attributable to any of the following conditions:

  • Intellectual Disability
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • Disabling conditions found to be closely related to an  intellectual/cognitive disability or to require treatment similar to that required for individuals with intellectual disabilities

In addition to the above, the disability must:

What is the California Department of Developmental Services? 

The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is a department within the California Health and Human Services Agency dedicated to providing services and supports to people with developmental disabilities. Each regional center operates under a Performance Contract (link to Performance Contract under Transparency) with DDS to meet both budgetary and service goals that are aligned with the Lanterman Act.

What is the Lanterman Act?

The landmark Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act  was established over 40 years ago and created
the regional center system. The 21 regional centers that make up this system links those with developmental disabilities with services and supports they need to live safely and with dignity as valued members of their community.

What Can The Regional Center Do For Me?
The regional center helps identify, coordinate, and monitor the services that are needed for an individual to lead a more independent life because of a developmental disability. This is called case management or service coordination. A case manager or service coordinator is assigned to help every individual. He or she will assist in developing an Individual Program Plan (3 years old and above) that includes the identification of services needed, where those services are available what those services should consist of, and how those services should be monitored for progress.