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The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act is set of laws in California that assures services and supports to people with developmental disabilities and their family members. The Lanterman Act is also an “ENTITLEMENT,” which means AS LONG AS WE HAVE THIS LAW, WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO GET DISABILITY RELATED SERVICES WE NEED.
The Lanterman Act says:[1]
  •  What our rights are.
  • How the regional centers helps us.
  • That “WE” can define the services and supports we get.
  •  How the Individual Program Plan (IPP) can help us get the services we need.
  •  What to do when someone says “NO” about getting a service we need.
  •  We have the same rights as anyone else
Who can get the services?
People in California with a developmental disability. A developmental disability is a disability that originates before age 18 and continues throughout our life and is one of the following disabilities[2]: cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, epilepsy, or anything that makes you need the same type of support that someone with mental retardation needs.
The Lanterman Act states that we have the right to make choices and decisions about our lives such as:
  • Where to live
  • Where to go to school
  • Being involved in our communities
  • Where to work
  • Having relationships and who we want to live with

Regional Center services and supports under the Lanterman Act:
1)  The regional center is a place to go to get the services and supports we need to live, work, learn, and get connected to our communities.
2)  The regional center helps find and get services and supports we need.
3)  Each regional center will get services and supports for us that are “cost-effective.”
4)  The regional center must give us information that we can understand.
What is an “Individual Program Plan” (IPP)?[3]
If you receive services from the Regional Center, you must have an IPP. An IPP is a legal agreement (contract) that lists the services and supports you need from your regional center. An IPP team and you must write your IPP. You can invite whoever you want to be part of your IPP team. It is your meeting. You should decide:
  • What day the meeting should be
  • Who SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT be there
  • Where the meeting should be held
  • What IS and IS NOT discussed at the IPP meeting
  • And if possible, the consumer should be encouraged to run their own meeting
  • You must agree with what is written in your IPP and sign it. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE, DO NOT SIGN IT!
  • Usually, IPP meetings are every three years but we can ask for one at any time if our situation changes
What if you disagree with a Regional Center?[4]
We have the right to ask questions and talk about decisions the regional center makes about us and our lives. If you do not agree with a regional center’s decision, it must be put IN WRITING. If you do not agree with the regional center, there are three things you can do:
1)    Develop a new Individual Program Plan
2)    Request a fair hearing
3)    File a section 4731 complaint
The Lanterman Act also governs other parts of the developmental disability services system, like:
  • The Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
  • The Area Boards/ State Councils
  • Many programs consumers participate in.
For more information about rights under the Lanterman Act, Regional Centers, the Individual Program Plan (IPP) and disagreeing with Regional Centers see:
A Consumer’s Guide to the Lanterman Act” published by DDS or
Rights Under the Lanterman Act (RULA)” published by Disability Rights California