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California's Commitment to People with Developmental Disabilities.

The state of California accepts a responsibility for persons with developmental disabilities and an obligation to them which it must discharge. Affecting hundreds of thousands of children and adults directly, and having an important impact on the lives of their families, neighbors, and whole communities, developmental disabilities presents social, medical, economic and legal problems of extreme importance.

The Lanterman Act, Section 4501 of the Welfare & Institutions Code, 1969

Historical Background

In the 1960's, approximately 13,00 persons with developmental disabilities resided in overcrowded state hospitals with 3,000 persons on a two-to-three year waiting list for admission. During this time, a number of parents and others strongly advocated for and help to establish a system of community-based programs and schools for people with developmental disabilities. However, community resources were limited.

The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Lanterman Act), originally enacted in 1969, promised each developmentally disabled person, regardless of age of degree of disability, the services and supports necessary to live as independently and productively as possible in their own community. The Lanterman Act also established regional centers, private, non profit organizations, as the entities responsible for coordinating, counseling, advocating and providing individualized services and supports for people with developmental disabilities. and their families.

In 1981, the Legislature recognized the State Department of Rehabilitation as having primary responsibility for addressing the vocational needs of adult citizens with developmental disabilities. Since that time, in addition to the role of regional centers, the Department of Rehabilitation has been the lead agency in assuring that these individuals receive support in achieving gainful employment in the community.

To be eligible for regional center services, a person must have a developmental disability which begins before the age of 18 with a condition that is expected to continue indefinitely. Qualifying conditions include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, and other conditions similar to mental retardation or that require treatment similar to mental retardation. The condition must not be solely a psychiatric disorder, learning disability, or solely physical in nature. Persons must reside in California; citizenship is not required for eligibility for the regional centers.

How California carries out its commitment to individuals with developmental disabilities

The rights of children and adults with developmental disabilities and the obligation of the state toward them are implemented through the individual program plan (IPP) process. Through the IPP process, the developmentally disabled person receives the services that enable that person to live amore productive and independent life in the community.

The IPP consists of goals and objectives, and specifies who will be responsible for implementing the goals and objectives, when the activities will start and the frequency of the services and supports. Standards are set by which progress can be measured. The consumer, family, program representatives, and any other authorized representative may attend IPP meetings as part of the planning team.

The vital role of the IPP has been reviewed and upheld by the Supreme Court of California and affirmed by the court in 1985.

An array of services and supports should established which is sufficiently complete to meet the needs and choices of each person with developmental disabilities, regardless of age or degree of disability, and at each stage of life and to support their integration into the main stream of the community.

The Lanterman Act, Welfare & Institutions Code Sec. 4501

In order to assure the maximum flexibility and availability of appropriate services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities, the department shall establish and maintain an equitable system of payment to providers of services and supports identified as necessary to the implementation of a consumers' individual program plan. The system of payment shall include provision for a rate to ensure that the provider can meet the special needs of consumers and provide quality services and supports in the least restrictive setting as required by law.

The Lanterman Act, Welfare & Institutions Code Sec. 4548 (a) (5).