I/DD Legal Advocacy

Regional Center Services

Regional centers provide diagnosis and assessment of eligibility. They help plan, access, coordinate and monitor needed services and supports. Once eligibility is determined, an assigned case manager or service coordinator helps develop a plan for services and purchase the services needed to implement the plan. Most services and supports are free regardless of age or income.

Under the Lanterman Act, each person with a developmental disability has an Individual Program Plan (IPP), which specifies the services and supports the person is entitled to receive, while also considering the individual’s needs, desires and objectives. Through the IPP process, there is an assessment of the individual’s needs and identification of services and supports for each consumer.  The IPP guarantees the services and supports identified in it for that consumer – it is a legal entitlement.

To be eligible for regional center services, a person must have a disability that begins prior to the age of 18, is expected to continue indefinitely, and meets the criteria for at least one of the following five categories: intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, and disabling conditions closely related to intellectual disability or requiring similar treatment (also known as “fifth category).

Contact us if:

  • You would like a consultation about any of your rights under the Lanterman Act;
  • Your regional center makes a decision a decision without your consent to reduce, terminate, or change services set forth in an individual program plan;
  • You are having trouble obtaining information and services from the regional centers in your native or preferred language.

Some of our work involves challenges to regional center policies that prevent our clients from receiving in-home supports, helps our clients fight for real work for real pay at regional center funded job placements, and highlights the barriers consumers and families from language and ethnic distinct communities face when attempting to access regional center services.

Community Living / Avoiding Institutionalization

Resulting from a national trend underlining an individual’s right to receive services in the least restrictive setting, the number of people in California’s state operated institutions has decreased over time from a high of 13,355 in 1968 to under 650 today.  However, there are still thousands more individuals unnecessarily placed in large, private institutions, and countless more individuals who live in community settings who are in need of crisis or other safety net services.

Our attorneys have litigated class action cases to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, testified before the Legislature about ways strengthen California’s safety net , and has participated in a Task Force charged with examining opportunities to strengthen the developmental disabilities service system.

Contact us if:

  • You have an intellectual or developmental disability, and:
  • You would like a consultation about your right to community living, or
  • You would like assistance leaving an institution or of you are at risk of placement in an institution.

We have helped clients move out of institutions or access needed crisis intervention services to prevent their dislocation from their homes and communities.

Personal Autonomy

The Lanterman Act empowers people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to make choices in their lives, including where and with whom they live and how they spend their days.  Further, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are presumed competent to make these choice for themselves.  

By their nature, conservatorships limit individual autonomy and the ability to make choices. People should not seek conservatorships unless there is a specific, identifiable need that cannot otherwise be met through less intrusive means, such as supported decision-making or other alternatives . Self-Determination , which will soon be implemented in California, similarly enables individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to exercise more control over the services and supports they need.

Contact us if:

  • You would like information about the status of California’s self-determination program;
  • You would like information about alternatives to conservatorships;
  • You believe your rights to make medical decisions for yourself, vote, or parent are being violated.

We have helped our clients participate to the maximum extent possible in making decisions about their own lives.