The regional center system was established to provide coordinated planning for lifetime community care for people with developmental disability.
The Lanterman Act declares that people with developmental disabilities have the same legal rights and responsibilities as all other people, and charges the regional center with advocacy for, and protection of, these rights. The regional center system was established to provide coordinated planning for lifetime community care for people with developmental disability. Regional centers provide a system for diagnosing individuals suspected of or having a developmental disability and helping people with these disabilities to make use of all essential public and private services to meet their special needs. The goal of regional center services is to enhance and maximize the functioning of each person with a developmental disability, to avoid the development of secondary disabilities, and to reduce the incidence of developmental disabilities through a vigorous program of identification, education, and prevention.
People with developmental disabilities qualify for regional center services. A developmental disability is defined by state law as:
- A disability that begins before the person’s 18th birthday,
- Continues or can be expected to continue indefinitely,
- Presents a significant disability in three or more functional life areas,
- And must be due to one of the following conditions: Autism, Cerebral palsy, Epilepsy, Mental retardation, Disabling conditions closely related to mental retardation or requiring similar treatment
In addition to persons with mental retardation, the regional centers are now mandated to serve persons with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, conditions similar to mental retardation, or conditions that require treatment similar to the treatment required for individuals with mental retardation. To be eligible for services under the Lanterman Act a person must also have a "substantial disability."
Regional Center services can include:
- Assessment and diagnosis
- Service coordination linking people with services
- Lifelong individualized planning
- Assistance in finding and using community resources
- Purchase of services identified in the individual plan
- Advocacy for the protection of legal, civil and service rights
- Early intervention services for at-risk infants and their families
- Information and referral
- Family support
- Training and educational opportunities for individuals and families
- Community outreach, awareness and education about developmental disabilities
- Quality assurance and enhancement activities
- Resource development
To apply, find a Regional Center near you.