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Who is eligible for services through the regional centers?

California state law has specific criteria that determine whether or not a person is eligible for Regional Center services. Being diagnosed with a developmental disability is not, solely, enough to qualify. The following eligibility criteria are summarized from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) website.

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Infants and toddlers (age 0 to 36 months) who are at risk of having developmental disabilities or who have a developmental delay may qualify for services. The criteria for determining the eligibility of infants and toddlers is specified in Section 95014 of the California Government Code, as at least one of the following:

— a developmental delay of at least 25% in one or more areas of either:

  • cognitive
  • communication
  • social or emotional
  • adaptive
  • physical and motor development, including vision and hearing
  • an established risk condition of known etiology, with a high probability of delayed development
  • high risk of having a substantial developmental disability due to a combination of biomedical risk factors

In addition, individuals at risk of having a child with a developmental disability may be eligible for genetic diagnosis, counseling, and other prevention services. For information about these services, see Early Start.

In addition to meeting eligibility criteria, to qualify for services through the Regional Center of the East Bay the child must reside in Alameda or Contra Costa County. If the child lives in a county other than these two counties, you can find the child's local Regional Center using this directory.

Regional Center eligibility criteria are defined by law, in Section 4512 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code.

Diagnoses that may qualify a person for Regional Center services include the following developmental disabilities:

  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Epilepsy
  • Conditions closely related to, or that require treatment similar to, that required for an intellectual disability

In addition, to qualify for Regional Center services, a person’s developmental disability must:

    • self-care
    • language
    • learning
    • mobility
    • self-direction
    • capacity for independent living
    • economic self-sufficiency
    • (This definition does not include any handicapping condition that is solely psychiatric, solely a learning disability, or solely physical in nature.)

In addition to meeting eligibility criteria, to qualify for services through the Regional Center of the East Bay the individual must reside in Alameda or Contra Costa County. If the individual lives in a county other than these two counties, you can find the local Regional Center using this directory.

Provisional Eligibility

Welfare and Institutions Code section 4512 was amended in July 2021 to expand eligibility for Lanterman Act Services by allowing children who are three or four years of age to be provisionally eligible for regional center services under the following conditions:

  • The disability is not solely physical in nature, and
  • The child has significant functional limitations in at least two of the following areas of major life activity:
    • Self-care
    • Receptive and expressive language
    • Learning, mobility, and self-direction as determined by the regional center and as appropriate to the age of the child.

The child is not required to have one of the developmental disabilities listed in W&I section 4512 (a)(1)

If your child is found provisionally eligible, an Individual Program Plan (IPP) will be developed with you. A child who is provisionally eligible will need to be reassessed for Lanterman Act services at least 90 days before turning five years of age. The child will then need to meet the definition of developmental disability per W&I Code section 4512(a)(1) to be eligible for ongoing regional center services after five years of age.

Regional center services for a child who was provisionally eligible and who does not meet the definition in W&I Code section 4512(a)(1) shall end when the child is five years of age. If denied eligibility, a fair hearing is the process for resolving disagreements between the regional center and the persons served. For more information, please review RCEB’s Fair Hearing process.

Determining Eligibility

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 does a person apply for services?

In order to find out if your child is eligible to receive services through the Regional Center of the East Bay (RCEB), you will need to complete the general inquiry form.

Please select from one of the options below:

To determine your child’s eligibility for Early Start (birth to age 3) Services, RCEB will collect information from you about your concerns and/or reasons for referral, then an Intake Coordinator will contact you to schedule an interview about your child’s development.

Next, an assessment will be scheduled to evaluate the child and if the child meets eligibility criteria, an Early Start Service Coordinator will be assigned to your child’s case. They will contact you to schedule a meeting where the Individual Family Plan will be developed. The assessment process will be completed within 45 days following the initial referral to the regional center.

Anyone over age 3 and is suspected of having a developmental disability may apply for services by:

RCEB’s intake staff will assist you by walking through the application/referral and working with you to see what information RCEB will need you to submit to begin the intake process.

Parents, guardians, conservators, or an adult with a developmental disability that originated prior to age 18 may initiate the application process. A professional, such as a pediatrician, or other interested parties may also do so, but only with permission from the individual or family.

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 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.

For more information on the next steps after eligibility is determined, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.

Office of the Ombudsperson

The Department of Developmental Services (Department) received funding through the 2022 Budget Act to establish an Office of the Ombudsperson to assist individuals and/or their families who are applying for or receiving regional center services regarding the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act. Beginning December 1, 2022, this new Office will be available to provide information, facilitate resolutions to disagreements and complaints, make recommendations to the Department, and compile and report data.

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