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What Are Regional Centers?

By: the California Department of Developmental Services

Information About Regional Centers
The Department of Developmental Services is responsible for designing and coordinating a wide array of services for California residents with developmental disabilities. These services are provided through a statewide system of 21 locally-based regional centers. Regional centers are nonprofit private corporations that have offices throughout California to provide a local resource to help find and access the many services available to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Both geographic accessibility and population density were considered when selecting locations for the 21 regional centers. The catchment area boundaries for the regional centers conform to county boundaries or groups of counties, except in Los Angeles County, which is divided into seven areas, each served by a regional center.

Services Provided by Regional Centers Regional centers provide or coordinate the following services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families:

  • Information and referral
  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • Counseling
  • 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
  • Advocacy for the protection of legal, civil and service rights
  • Early intervention services for at risk infants and their families
  • Genetic counseling
  • Family support
  • Planning, placement, and monitoring for 24-hour out-of-home care
  • Training and educational opportunities for individuals and families
  • Community education about developmental disabilities

What Do Regional Center Services Cost?
There is no charge for diagnosis and assessment for eligibility. Once eligibility is determined, most services are free regardless of age or income. There is a requirement for parents to share the cost of 24-hour out-of-home placements for children under age 18. This share depends on the parents' ability to pay. There may also be a co-payment requirement for other selected services.

Regional centers are required by law to provide services in the most cost-effective way possible. they must use all other resources, including generic resources, before using any regional center funds. A generic resource is a service provided by an agency which has a legal responsibility to provide services to the general public and receives public funds for providing those services. Some generic agencies you might be referred to are the local school district, county social services department, Medi-Cal, Social Security Administration, Department of Rehabilitation and others. Other resources may include natural supports. This is help that you may get from family, friends or others at little or no cost.

What Can the Regional Center Do For You?
Regional centers help coordinate the services that are needed because of a developmental disability. This is called case management or service coordination. A case manager or service coordinator will be assigned to help you. He or she will help develop a plan for services, tell you where services are available, and help you get the services.

How Do I Know What Services Will Be Provided?
The regional center uses a planning process called an Individual Program Plan (IPP). For children age 0 to 36 months this process is called the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). The plan is prepared by regional center staff and the individual or the parents of a minor child, a guardian or conservator (if any), or anyone else the individual invites to participate.

The IPP (or IFSP) lists goals and the services needed to reach those goals. It lists who will provide the service and who will pay for it. All services listed in the IPP will be provided either by a generic or natural resource, a regional center vendor (a business approved by the regional center) or directly by the regional center.

Where Can I Get More Information?
To obtain more information about services available for individuals with developmental disabilities, visit our Information About Programs and Services page or contact your local regional center.

List of California Regional Centers

Alta California Regional Center
Central Valley Regional Center
Regional Center of the East Bay
Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center
Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center
Far Northern Regional Center
Golden Gate Regional Center
Harbor Regional Center
Inland Regional Center
Kern Regional Center
North Bay Regional Center
North Los Angeles County Regional Center
Regional Center of Orange County
Redwood Coast Regional Center
San Andreas Regional Center
South Central Los Angeles Regional Center
San Diego Regional Center
San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center
Tri-Counties Regional Center
Valley Mountain Regional Center
Westside Regional Center

The information in this module is reprinted from the California Department Developmental Services (DDS) website and appears here by permission of DDS. We encourage you to visit California DDS on the World Wide Web at