Your Right to Receive Camping, Social Recreation, and Related Services From the Regional Center


Your Right to Receive Camping, Social Recreation, and Related Services From the Regional Center

Regional centers can now pay for camping, social recreation, and other related services under the Lanterman Act. You can ask for these services now! This is a change in the law you can find in the California Welfare and Institutions Code, section 4648.5.

Regional centers can now pay for camping, social recreation, and other related services under the Lanterman Act.  You can ask for these services now!  This is a change in the law you can find in the California Welfare and Institutions Code, section 4648.5.  

What Changed? 

In 2009, California had a financial emergency and regional centers had to stop paying for some services.  Some of the services that were not allowed included camping, social recreation, and other related services.  Beginning July 1, 2021, regional centers can again pay for:

  1. Camping services and associated travel expenses. 
  2. Social recreation activities, except for those activities vendored as community-based day programs. 
  3. Educational services for children three to 17, inclusive, years of age. 
  4. Nonmedical therapies, including, but not limited to, specialized recreation, art, dance, and music. 

What does the Department of Developmental Services Say About This Change in the Law? 

The Department of Developmental Services is the state agency in charge of all 21 regional centers. This agency is sometimes called DDS and it has the power to tell regional centers what to do.  DDS told regional centers they are responsible for informing service coordinators and the public about this change in the law, and to find regional center consumers who may need and want these services.  DDS told regional centers they must make special efforts to tell communities of color who do not speak English.  Funding of social recreation and other related services can help reduce regional center spending disparities for low income people of color.  Regional centers must submit action plans to DDS by December 15th, 2021. 

In a letter on October 7, 2021, DDS told each regional center that they must: 

  1. Take proactive steps to let the community know of the changes to Welfare and Institutions Code, section 4648.5. 
  2. Give information to service coordinators and reach out to consumers, families, providers, and local community organizations to let them know about the availability of the services.  
  3. Consider actions that will raise awareness and help to share information with non-English speaking people and communities of color.  
  4. Make sure that service coordinators talk about the availability of these services and related consumer needs during the Individual Program Planning meeting, and 
  5. Submit an outreach plan to DDS by December 15, 2021. 

You can find this directive on DDS’s website at: 

How Do Regional Centers Decide Who Gets These Services?

Your IPP must explain why you need these services.  When regional centers make decisions on what services to approve, they can consider the following questions:

  1. Do you need the service because of your developmental disability?
  2. Will the service lessen the effects of the developmental disability?
  3. Will the service help you have a normal, independent, and productive life, or help you learn a new skill in an appropriate way?  

Regional centers also have guidelines called Purchase of Service Policies that explain how they make spending decisions for different services.  Ask your regional center to review their Purchase of Service policy about camping, social recreation, and related services.  Each regional center must put their Purchase of Service policies on their website. Purchase of Services (POS) Policies help explain the rules for receiving services.  POS policies for each regional center are different and DDS must approve POS policies.  Welfare & Institutions Code section 4434(d).  POS policies cannot violate the Lanterman Act and must be posted online.  Welfare & Institutions Code section 4629.5.

Do I Have to Exhaust Generic Resources Before the Regional Center Will Fund my Social Recreation Program? 

Yes.  The law says regional centers must make sure there are no other agencies or resources with the duty to provide the service you are asking for.  The law also lets regional centers fund a service while the generic resource is being pursued.  Welfare and Institutions Code, section 4659.

What is Considered a Generic Resource? 

A “generic resource” is an agency or resource required to serve all members of the general public, whether or not they are regional center clients.  Examples of generic resources include city parks and recreation programs, schools, and Medi-Cal.  Welfare and Institutions Code, section 4644(b).

How do I Request These Services? 

As with any new request for a service or support, you should ask for an IPP meeting to talk with the regional center about how you are doing and why you need the new service or support. You can ask for an IPP meeting at any time. The regional center has to hold your meeting within 30 days of your request.  Regional centers can only purchase services that are related to your developmental disability.  When asking for your service, be sure to explain why you need the service and how that service is related to your developmental disability.  

What if the Regional Center Says No? 

If the regional center says no to your request for a service, they must give you written notice by certified mail within 5 working days. It is illegal for the regional center to deny or change a service without giving you written notice. You can appeal even if the regional center refuses to send you notice.  Welfare and Institutions Code, section 4710(b).  For more information on how to appeal, please see Chapter 10 of the Rights Under the Lanterman Act, questions 14-17. 

What Must the Regional Center Include in Their Notice? 

The regional center notice must tell you what they plan to do and which laws allow them to make that decision. It must explain your appeal rights.  The regional center written notice must be clear and in a language you understand. If you would like more information on this, please see Chapter 10 of the Rights Under the Lanterman Act

Advocacy Tips for You:

  1. Ask for an IPP meeting in writing and say you need and want regional center to pay for the social recreation or other related services.  Be ready to explain how that service helps you with your developmental disability and why that program meets your individual needs. 
  2. To get social recreational services funded, your IPP must include social recreational goals.  Review your current IPP to see what your goals are and if they are still what you need and want.  Sometimes new goals need to be added if things in your life change. 
  3. Before your IPP meeting, get and review your regional center’s purchase of service policy for camping, social recreational, and other related services to know the requirements and information they will ask.   
  4. Know what is available in your community and if any of those community programs will or will not work for your individual needs. 
  5. Be ready to tell your service coordinator if you need extra supports to be a part of community programs and services. 
  6. Your IPP should say if you need the regional center to help you get services from another agency.  If a generic agency can provide you the social recreational services you need, regional centers must help you access those generic resources. Welfare and Institutions Code, section 4648(a)(8).  
  7. For minor children, be ready to explain if you cannot afford to pay a part of the social recreation or related service – even the cost you would pay if your child did not have a disability.  A family must be able to look to the regional center when it finds that those services their child without disabilities is receiving become inaccessible or unavailable to their child with a developmental disability, if the regional center does not pay for them.    
  8. If the regional center denies your request, ask for a denial in writing called a “Notice of Action” letter that includes information about your appeal rights. 

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.



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