What is The Lanterman Act?
The Lanterman Act is part of California’s Welfare and Institutions Code starting with Division 4.1. The term The Lanterman Act is often used to refer to all of California’s laws affecting individuals with developmental disabilities, including the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act, the Early Intervention Act, and regulations in Title 17 and Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, that further explain and implement the requirements of The Lanterman Act. The Lanterman Act is the name commonly used to describe California’s unique set of laws for persons with developmental disabilities, entitling them to receive the services and supports they need in order to live healthy, productive lives in the community. On KTLP.org, we will use the phrase The Lanterman Act to refer to all of these laws and certainly do not intend to exclude other laws or services by using this common name.
The Lanterman Act creates a system where each person with a disability is empowered to participate in choices about where and how they live, learn, work and play. Each person with a developmental disability has an Individual Program Plan (IPP) which specifies the services and supports the person will receive, while also considering the individual’s needs, desires and objectives. Children under the age of three with developmental delays may also be covered by federal and state legislation, which guarantees an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP).
Regional Centers (RCs) have been created and are governed by The Lanterman Act<. RCs help to develop the IPP or the IFSP and are responsible for making sure the services are available and for purchasing those services. The Lanterman Act explains how service providers operate and creates an appeals process for persons with disabilities and their families to follow if they are not happy with their services, or with an action taken by their service provider or RC.
Click on the following links to access the full text of:
California’s Entitlement to Services
No one recognized the true power of The Lanterman Act until 1985 when the California Supreme Court was called upon for the first time to interpret The Act. The Court case involved a series of budget cuts that the State Department of Developmental Services was looking to implement in response to a budget crisis in 1982.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was clear and far reaching. The Court said for the first time that The Lanterman Act created an entitlement to services at the State’s expense. The Court rejected the idea that available funding was the basis of the system, but rather found the Individual Program Plan (IPP) to be the central component. The State of California, through Regional Centers, had an obligation to implement IPPs to the fullest extent possible, as long as funding remained. When and if funding should run out, it is up to the Legislature, not the administrators, to allocate more money or to pass new laws changing what services are available.
The Court said that The Lanterman Act “clearly defines the right of the developmentally disabled person to be provided with services and the obligation of the state to provide them.” The Court further explained that “through [the IPP procedure], the developmentally disabled person on an individual basis receives, as an entitlement, services that enable him to live a more independent and productive life in the community.”
As for Regional Centers, the Supreme Court said that “while it is true…that regional centers have ‘wide discretion’ in determining how to implement the IPP, they have no discretion at all in determining whether to implement it: they must do so.”
This entitlement to services, recognized by the California Supreme Court in 1985, is the promise of The Lanterman Act. It is unique amongst all of the United States and, indeed, unique in the world. KTLP seeks to keep that promise alive.
Our Entitlement is too Precious to Lose
The majority of families in California are satisfied with their services. This is impressive when you realize that well over 200,000 individuals receive community services. However, many families are frustrated and discouraged with their Regional Center, their case manager and/or their services. Few would deny that there are real problems with the present-day system.
In spite of the problems, California families have something valuable that is nonexistent in any other state – the promise of The Lanterman Act and the entitlement to services. There are times when this promise doesn’t seem that special. Families get so frustrated with their Regional Center, their case manager and/or their service provider that they wonder if the IPP process is even worth the trouble.
When frustrated with the process, consider this – other states have no entitlement. Instead, they have waiting lists of thousands of people; children leave high school and have few options for adult services. In some states the waiting lists are so long that young adults leaving school wait more than ten (10) years for some services. One waiting list expert says that over 800,000 people with developmental disabilities are waiting nationwide. Some states only serve people who qualify for federal funding; in California, the state provides funding for everyone who meets the state’s definition of “developmentally disabled.” If California only served those who qualify for federal funding, 78,000 people would be receiving services right now and more than 120,000 would be waiting!
California contributes state general fund dollars so that every eligible child and/or adult can receive services. This is a good thing, but it allows the state to attempt to control costs in other ways; for example, paying low rates to the providers of service. This causes quality problems, as providers have great difficulty attracting and retaining qualified staff. Though a huge problem, it has permitted California to uphold its entitlement to services for many years.
The bottom line in California:
You have a right to services in your IPP;
You have a right to determine those services;
You have a right to quality services; and
You have a right to appeal decisions made by others when you disagree.
These are significant legal rights but are not always easy to enforce. If these rights are ever removed, people with developmental disabilities and their families will have nothing and will simply have to accept whatever services the legislature and the bureaucracy decide they can or cannot have.
Yes, California families have something too precious to lose and something worth fighting for!
The KTLP Individual Program Plan (IPP) Rules and Timelines
Please click on the link below to download a chart which provides a quick reference guide to many important rules and timelines related to the Individual Program Planning (IPP) Process. Over the years many of these have been forgotten by (or were never known to) many people with developmental disabilities and their families and friends. Even regional center case managers and their supervisors are often unaware of many Lanterman Act legal procedures.
Your IPP Bill of Rights
It is critical that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families understand their rights under current law. What follows is a partial list that we call Your IPP Bill of Rights. Some of these are paraphrased so they are easier to understand, but they are all part of the Lanterman Act law.
Ensure You Are Notified When Your Friend’s or Loved One’s Rights May be Affected
Often, a family member of a person with an intellectual or other developmental disability is not notified when a service coordinator is making changes to the IPP or communicating important information affecting their life. There is a provision in the law that allows another person to be the representative for a non-conserved adult with an intellectual or other developmental disability.
The legal authority for this representative is found in the Welfare & Institutions Code Section 4646(e), and it says:
Regional Centers shall comply with the request of a consumer, or where appropriate, the request of his or her parents, legal guardian, or conservator, that a designated representative receive written notice of all meetings to develop or revise his or her individual program plan and of all notices sent to the consumer pursuant to Section 4710. The designated representative may be a parent of family member.
We have prepared a sample form letter that should be sufficient to ensure that you are notified for all circumstances. Click here to review and download this letter.
You Have a Right to Record Your IPP Meetings
There is a specific section of the law that allows a consumer, parent, guardian, or conservator to record an IPP meeting on an audiotape recorder.
The legal authority to record IPP meetings is found in the Welfare & Institutions Code Section 4646.6, and it says:
Notwithstanding Section 632 of the Penal Code, a consumer, or his or her parent, guardian, conservator, or authorized representative, shall have the right to record electronically the proceedings of the individual program plan meetings on an audiotape recorder. The consumer, or his or her parent, guardian, conservator, or authorized representative, shall notify the regional center of their intent to record a meeting at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. If the regional center initiates the notice of intent to audiotape record a meeting and the consumer, or his or her parent, guardian, conservator, or authorized representative, refuses to attend the meeting because it will be tape recorded, the meeting shall not be recorded on an audiotape recorder. However, the regional center shall have the right to electronically record the meeting when notice of intent to record has been given by the consumer or on the consumer’s behalf.
In order to do this, written notice must be given to the regional center at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. The best way to meet this requirement is to send the regional center a letter one time, stating that you reserve your right to record all future IPP meetings, as this meets the 24-hour-notice requirement. You do not have to record all of your meetings if you do not wish to, but once you’ve given notice you have the right to record any meeting(s) you wish.
We have found that recording meetings can be a very helpful tool for families because it gives a record of what was (and was not) said in an IPP meeting. The fact that the meeting will be recorded can also change the tone and the approach taken in the meeting(s).
We have prepared a sample form letter that should be sufficient to ensure that you give proper notice to record your IPP meetings. Click here to review and download this letter.