Information About Regional Centers

Regional centers are nonprofit private corporations that contract with the Department of Developmental Services to provide or coordinate services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. They have offices throughout California to provide a local resource to help find and access the many services available to individuals and their families.

To be eligible for services, a person must have a disability that begins before the person’s 18th birthday, be expected to continue indefinitely and present a substantial disability as defined in Section 4512(a)(1) of the California Welfare and Institutions Code. Eligibility is established through diagnosis and assessment performed by regional centers.

Infants and toddlers (age 0 to 36 months) who are at risk of having developmental disabilities or who have a developmental delay may also qualify for services. The criteria for determining the eligibility of infants and toddlers is specified in Section 95014 of the California Government Code. In addition, individuals at risk of having a child with a developmental disability may be eligible for genetic diagnosis, counseling and other prevention services. For information about these services, see Early Start.

A child who is three or four years of age may qualify for provisional eligibility for regional center services, without needing a diagnosis of developmental disability as specified in W&I Code section 4512(a)(1). Provisional eligibility for regional center services is for a child who demonstrates significant functional limitations in at least two major life activities outlined in W&I Code section 4512(a)(2). A disability solely physical in nature does not meet the eligibility criteria. It is not a requirement of provisional eligibility for a three or four-year-old child to have been served in Early Start. Similar to individuals who are eligible pursuant to W&I Code section 4512(a)(1), a child who is determined to be provisionally eligible will have an Individual Program Plan. For information about eligibility criteria, see Lanterman Act Provisional Eligibility.

Regional centers provide diagnosis and assessment of eligibility and help plan, access, coordinate and monitor the services and supports that are needed because of a developmental disability. There is no charge for the diagnosis and eligibility assessment.

Once eligibility is determined, a case manager or service coordinator is assigned to help develop a plan for services, tell you where services are available, and help you get the services. Most services and supports 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. For further information, see Parental Fee Program. There may also be a co-payment requirement for other selected services. For further information, see Family Cost Participation Program.

Some of the services and supports provided by the regional centers include:

  • Information and referral
  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • Counseling
  • Lifelong individualized planning and service coordination
  • Purchase of necessary services included in the individual program plan
  • Resource development
  • Outreach
  • 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


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Last modified: June 16, 2022