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An individual is eligible for regional center services if he or she has a developmental disability as defined in the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Welfare and Institutions Code 4512(a).
What is EARLY START?
Children – from birth to age three – who are experiencing or are at risk for a developmental delay/disability are also eligible, as are individuals believed to have at high risk of parenting a child with a developmental disability.
All 21 regional centers across California remain open and are accepting referrals to the Early Start program, although some regional center staff may be working remotely and not holding face-to-face meetings in their offices. As we navigate new challenges, Early Start will continue working to find new ways to support our consumers, families, providers, staff and communities.
- Early Start Healthcare Provider Brochure – An easy-to-read brochure that outlines the screening, referral and intake process. SPANISH Version
- The Early Start Community Flyer – An informative flyer for families who may have a concern about their child’s development. SPANISH Version
What Is a Developmental Disability?
A developmental disability is defined in the State of California (WIC 4512(a)) as a disability that occurs before the age of 18, is substantially disabling for an individual, and is expected to continue indefinitely.
Developmental disabilities include intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism. Also included are disabling conditions closely related to intellectual disability or requiring similar treatment.
Eligibility determinations are made by a team of regional center professionals such as a physician, nurse, psychologist, physical therapist, speech therapist, behavior analyst, and assessment counselor.
You are notified of your eligibility by letter within 10 days after the determination is made. Any applicant who is not eligible for ongoing regional center services will be informed of his/her appeal rights and the fair hearing process, and will also be referred to other appropriate resources.
How to Apply for Regional Center Services?
If you live in Alameda or Contra Costa Counties, you can apply for regional center services by phone or by written request.
The intake process for infants and toddlers birth to age 36 months begins by calling the Early Start Intake line at (510) 618-6195 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone over age 3 and is suspected of having a developmental disability may apply for services by contacting our Intake Coordinator at (510) 618-6122 or email@example.com.
What Does the Intake and Assessment Process Look Like?
You will be directed to the Intake Coordinator who will conduct a basic screening to determine if further assessment and diagnostic services are appropriate. Persons with developmental disabilities may apply for services directly or be referred by others.
Intake is the process in which information is gathered to determine eligibility for regional center services. An Assessment Counselor will schedule an initial intake appointment that will be held within 15 working days following your request for assistance. This appointment, which takes place in your home or at the regional center, is a time for you and your family to be given a complete overview of the regional center and its services.
The Assessment Counselor will arrange for any necessary assessments to determine eligibility. For infants and toddlers between birth and age three, assessments regarding eligibility are performed within 45 days following the initial intake appointment. For individuals three years of age and older, assessments are performed within 120 days following the initial intake appointment. Assessments may include psychological, medical, or developmental evaluations and others if necessary.