Appeals & Complaints

The state’s developmental services community is best served by an open exchange of information and opinions, and DDS is committed to resolving problems and concerns when they occur. Below are the multiple options consumers, family members, vendors and providers have for filing appeals and complaints.

Consumer Rights Complaint Process

Used when a consumer, or any representative acting on behalf of a consumer, believes a right (or rights) have been unfairly denied by a regional center, developmental center, or a service provider.

*Not to be used for disputes about eligibility for services or the nature, scope or type of services a consumer is receiving – see Appeals Process.

Title 17 Complaint Procedures

This procedure is to be used when: (1) one of the “personal rights” of an individual who resides in a developmental center, community care or health care facility, has been denied; and (2) the consumer disagrees.

Appeals (Formerly Fair Hearing) Process – for individuals age 3 or over

Used to resolve disputes with a regional or developmental center about eligibility for services or the nature, scope, or amount of services and supports a person should be receiving. *Not to be used for consumer rights violations – see Consumer Rights Complaint Process.

Early Start Complaint Processes – for children aged 0-3 yrs

Early Start services are for children aged 0-3 who are at risk of having a developmental disability or have a developmental disability or delay, and their families.

There are three separate processes in place for addressing disagreements under Early Start.

  • Early Start Mediation Conference Request – Voluntary mediation to informally resolve disagreements between parents and a regional center and/or local education agency (LEA) related to alleged violation(s) of federal or state laws governing California’s Early Start Program.

*Mediation can be requested as the first option for resolution, or during a complaint or due process hearing process, if the parent believes mediation might be more appropriate.

  • Early Start Due Process Hearing – the Early Start Due Process procedure is a more formal process to resolve disagreements between families and a regional center and/or LEA related to a proposal or refusal for identification, evaluation, assessment, placement, or services.

*Due process hearing decisions are final unless appealed to the superior court of appropriate jurisdiction or civil action is brought by any aggrieved parties.

  • The Early Start State Complaint Process – the purpose of the State complaint process is to investigate and resolve any alleged violations of federal or state laws or regulations governing California’s Early Start program including eligibility and services. Parents or any individual, agency or organization may file an Early Start State Complaint.

Vendorization Appeals

Used to appeal a denial of vendorization application, termination of vendorization, or failure of a regional center to comply with regulations.

Residential Facility Appeals

Where a vendored community care facility may appeal the actions taken by a regional center regarding service level disapproval, sanctions, findings of substantial inadequacy or immediate danger, or enforcement of any requirement by the regional center which is not contained in Title 17, California Code of Regulations.

Rate Appeals

Used for a vendor to appeal a rate set by the Department of Developmental Services, the effective date of the rate, or the denial of a rate adjustment.

Family Home Agency Appeals

This process can be used by a FHA applicant or vendor to appeal the following regional center actions: denial or termination of FHA vendorization; movement of a consumer from a family home approved by a vendored FHA; and/or revocation of a family home’s Certificate of Approval. The appeal process is defined in Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations Section 56096 and 56097. The FHA must appeal in writing to the DDS Director within 30 days after receiving notice from the regional center of intended action.


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Last modified: November 15, 2022