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Powerful Legislation

The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act (AB 846), also known as the Lanterman Act, is a part of California law that states the rights and responsibilities of persons with developmental disabilities. It is a powerful piece of legislation that establishes an entitlement and defines the service delivery system. It creates the agencies, including regional centers, responsible for planning and coordinating services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities and their families.

The Lanterman Act explicitly:

  • Accepts California’s responsibility for and obligations to its citizens who are developmentally disabled
  • Provides for the establishment of an array of services and supports to meet the needs and choices of each person who is developmentally disabled throughout their life
  • Sets forth the values of the system which include choice, inclusion, independence, respect, maintaining children in the family home, and support for persons with developmental disabilities to become valued members of their home community
  • Establishes the individuals and families of children with developmental disabilities as the primary focus of the system
  • Guarantees the civil and service rights of persons with developmental disabilities
  • Establishes a network of non-profit community-based regional centers to provide assessment and diagnosis, information and referral, lifelong individualized planning and service coordination, purchase of necessary services included in the individual program plan, assistance in finding and using community and other resources, early intervention services for at-risk infants and their families, genetic counseling, residential placement and monitoring, training and educational opportunities for individuals and families, community education about developmental disabilities, advocacy and coordination of services and supports
  • Defines the composition of volunteer Boards of Directors of regional centers as including individuals with developmental disabilities, parents, and others with specific qualifications
  • Defines developmental disability as a disability that:
    • Occurs before the age of 18, and
    • Continues or can be expected to continue indefinitely, and
    • Constitutes a substantial disability, and
    • Includes intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism and “disabling conditions found to be closely related to intellectual disability or to require treatment similar to that required for mentally retarded individuals;’ and
    • Is not solely physical in nature
  • Provides that infants and toddlers (0 to 36 months) who are at risk of becoming developmentally disabled or who have a developmental delay may also qualify for services Provides that individuals who are at risk of having a child with a developmental disability may be eligible for referral for genetic diagnosis, counseling, and other preventive services
  • Establishes the Individual Program Plan as the operating mechanism to identify, plan and provide services and supports
  • Establishes an appeal process for consumers and families to use in the event they are not satisfied with a decision made by a regional center
  • Defines the roles and responsibilities of partners in the service delivery system including the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Protection and Advocacy, and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • Defines the responsibilities of Case Managers
  • Requires regional centers to provide services in the most cost-efficient way possible and to use all other resources, including generic resources, before using any regional center funds
  • Includes provisions related to rates and monitoring of service providers
  • Establishes a performance contracting process between regional centers and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS)

The Department of Developmental Services (DDS)

The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is the department in the California Health and Welfare Agency that has the responsibility of providing statewide policy direction and leadership to ensure that persons with developmental disabilities have the opportunity to lead more independent, productive and satisfying lives as envisioned by the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act.

The State of California, through DDS, contracts with regional centers to provide the service coordination necessary to obtain the services and supports best suited to each individual with a developmental disability.

State Council on Developmental Disabilities

The State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) is a federally mandated and funded organization in charge of promoting the development of an individual and family-centered, comprehensive system of services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. Its goals are to enable individuals to achieve independence, productivity, integration, and inclusion into the community.  SCDD’s Regional Offices work within their specific geographic region to accomplish these goals through advocacy, capacity-building, systems change, and training.

The State Council on Developmental Disabilities Bay Area Regional Office has the monitoring responsibility for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties and can be contacted at (510) 286-0439 or bayarea@scdd.ca.gov. Website: https://scdd.ca.gov

Visit the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) website for more information on the Lanterman Act.