The purpose of voluntary mediation is to informally resolve disagreements between parents, as defined by law, and a regional center and/or local education agency (LEA) related to any alleged violation of federal or state statutes/regulations governing California’s Early Start Program, including eligibility and services, and/or proposal or refusal for identification, evaluation, assessment, placement, or services. Early Start is for infants and toddlers under the age of three who have a developmental disability or delay. Mediation can be requested as the first option for resolution or during a complaint or due process hearing process when and if the parent believes that mediation might be more appropriate.
Early Start is governed by Part C of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:
- Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 303
- California Early Intervention Services Act, Government Code, Section 95000 et seq.; and
- Title 17, California Code of Regulations, Sections 52000 – 52175
Any party seeking state level action on a disagreement falling into the category noted above may file a request for a voluntary mediation conference by submitting a Mediation Hearing Request form-
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This form may also be obtained from the regional center, LEA or the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). In addition, a letter of request is accepted by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) in lieu of the request form if all the pertinent information is submitted and the letter is signed by the requester.
Mediation Conference Requests should be filed with:Office of Administrative Hearings
Attention: Early Start Intervention Section
2349 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95833-4231
Alternate Fax: 916-263-0549
The mediation conference will be convened by OAH. The timely issuance of the written mediation agreement may not be delayed by any local efforts occurring at the same time to resolve the matter. If a Mediation Agreement is not fully implemented, a complaint may be filed.
While all parties are encouraged to resolve differences at the lowest administrative level possible, such voluntary resolution may occur at the same time that a request for a Mediation Conference, a Due Process Hearing and/or a Complaint is filed.
The “Parents’ Rights: An Early Start Guide for Families” booklet provides in-depth information about procedural safeguards available to assure services are provided in a manner appropriate to the child’s needs and the concerns of the family. If additional information is needed, contact your regional center, LEA, or the Early Start Program at 1-800-515-2229 or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: February 8, 2021