Your Native Langugage Rights in the Early Start Program

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Your Native Langugage Rights in the Early Start Program

This fact sheet gives you information about your rights to receive information and services in your native language from the regional center under the Early Start Program.  Early Start serves newborns and children up to 3 years old who have developmental delays.

This fact sheet gives you information about your rights to receive information and services in your native language from the regional center under the Early Start Program.  Early Start serves newborns and children up to 3 years old who have developmental delays.

The California law known as Senate Bill (SB) 555 (Correa) clarifies a regional center’s duty under the Early Start Program to provide information and services to you in your native language. You can find the law here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_0551-0600/sb_555_bill_2

Some people who get services from the regional centers do not speak English or are limited in speaking or understanding English. There is no requirement that you must speak, read, or write English to get the services that you or your baby/toddler need from the regional center. This law helps non- or limited English-speaking consumers and their families have equal information about regional center services and supports.

  1. What is considered “native language?”

    Under the Early Start Program, “native language” is the language normally spoken by the child’s parents. 34 C.F.R. sec. 303.25(a); Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(g)(1). For example, if you speak limited English and you normally speak Spanish, your native language is Spanish.

  2. What if I’m deaf or hard or hearing, blind, or visually impaired? What does native language mean for me under Early Start?

    If you are deaf or hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired, “native language” means the mode of communication you normally use. This could include, for example, sign language, Braille, or oral communication. 34 C.F.R. sec. 303.25(b); Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(g)(1).

  3. If my child is being evaluated and assessed for Early Start or for services under Early Start, do I have a right to evaluation and assessment in my native language?

    Yes. Evaluations and assessments must be conducted in your native language, unless the regional center can show it is not possible to do so. 34 C.F.R. sec. 303.321(a)(5); Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(g)(1). If your native language is Vietnamese, the regional center must conduct the evaluation and assessment in Vietnamese. This assessment, the meeting to determine eligibility, and the first Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) meeting must be done in your native language within 45 days of the referral to the regional center. 34 C.F.R sec. 303.310; Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(b).

  4. What about family assessments? Does a family assessment have to be done in the native language of the family member being assessed?

    Yes. Assessment of any family member as part of the family assessment must be done in the native language of that family member, unless the regional center can show it is not possible to do so. 34 C.F.R. sections 303.321(a)(6), 303.25; Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(g)(1).

  5. What about IFSP meetings? Do they have to be in my native language?

    Yes. You have the right to have the planning process for the IFSP and the IFSP meeting in your family’s native language, unless the regional center can show it is not possible to do so. 34 C.F.R. sec. 303.342(d); Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(g)(1). The IFSP should be reviewed every six months or more often when needed. 34 C.F.R. sec. 303.342(b); 17 C.C.R. sec. 52102(b).

  6. Can I have a copy of the IFSP in my native language?

    The regional center must fully explain to you, in your native language, what is in the IFSP. 34 C.F.R. sec. 303.342(e).

    The regional center also must provide you with a copy of the IFSP in your native language, unless the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) decides it would be an undue hardship for them to do so. Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(g)(1); 2 CCR 11162(c).

  7. How soon can I get a copy of my IFSP in my native language?

    Within a reasonable amount of time, unless DDS says is it an undue burden on the regional center. Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(g)(1); 2 CCR 11162(c). You may be able to get the translated IFSP sooner if you remind the regional center that the sooner you get a translated IFSP, the sooner you can consent to services and your child can receive services. The sooner your child gets services to address their condition(s), the more time there is to get a positive outcome.

  8. Does the regional center have to document what my native language is in the IFSP?

    Yes. The regional center must put down what your native language is in the IFSP. Cal. Gov. Code sec. 95020(g)(2). If you normally speak Korean, for example, then your IFSP must state your native language is Korean.

  9. How can I ask the regional center to do everything in my native language?

    You can use this sample letter to ask in writing.

    Date: _______________
    To: ____________________________________(Regional Center Service Coordinator Name)

    Requesting Information in My Native Language For: __________________ (Name of Regional Center Client)

    I request that the IFSP be amended to include a statement that our native language is _________________.

    I request that all assessments, and the planning and development of my child’s IFSP, be conducted in my native language. Also, please provide me with a translated copy of my IFSP in my native language in the timelines required by law.

    Sincerely,

    _________________________________________
    Name

  10. What if the regional center does not document my native language or does not conduct an assessment, evaluation, or the planning process in my native language?

    If your regional center does not document your native language or does not conduct the assessment, evaluation, or planning process in your native language, you can file a complaint. 17 CCR 52170. To file a complaint under the Early Start Program, go to the Early Start Complaint Process page to get the Early Start Complaint Investigation Request form-DS 1827. It is available in English and Spanish. Mail the form, or a short letter, to:

    Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
    Office of Human Rights and Advocacy Services
    Attention: Appeals, Complaints, and Projects
    1215 O Street, (MS 8-20)
    Sacramento, CA 95814

Disclaimer: This publication is legal information only and is not legal advice about your individual situation. It is current as of the date posted. We try to update our materials regularly. However, laws are regularly changing. If you want to make sure the law has not changed, contact DRC or another legal office.