Regional Center Advocacy

16 Tips For Getting Quality Regional Center Services for Yourself or Your Child, Undated

Publication #5413.01, Undated (DRA)

BEFORE THE MEETING:

Plan what we will ask for.

Together, we will use an IPP planner to help you figure out what services and supports you want and need from the regional center. Talk to family, friends, and other support systems to help you fill out the planner or make your own list.

About Kids Advocacy will send a letter asking for an IPP meeting within 30 days.

It is important for us to let the regional center know before the meeting what we will ask for. That way, the regional center can be ready to decide at the meeting whether it will give you the services and supports we are requesting. About Kids Advocacy will follow up the meeting with a confirmation letter memorializing what was discussed. Once we ask for a meeting, the regional center must hold one within 30 days of the written request.

Request and confirm that a decision maker be there.

The law says that decisions about your child's services and supports must be made at the meeting by the planning team. This means that someone from the regional center who has authority to say “yes” or “no” to your requests (a “decision maker”) must be at the meeting. A decision maker usually will not attend unless you specifically make a request.

AT THE MEETING

A representative from About Kids Advocacy will attend with you.

This is important because it allows you to be the parent, and not have to worry about keeping track of what is being discussed. Also, our representatives are trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution and have the skills to facilitate positive communication to acquire the services and supports your child needs. 

Make sure a “decision maker” is present. If not, we have a right to reschedule the meeting.

Sometimes, a planning team may only “recommend funding” for services and supports, or the regional center may say that the right people are not at the meeting to make a decision. Or, the regional center may say that its “autism committee” or another committee has to approve your request. This is against the law and may mean that you will not get the services and supports that your team agrees you should get. As soon as the meeting begins, make sure that one of the people from the regional center is a “decision maker” and that you can come to a final decision about the services and supports we request at the meeting.

Make sure the meeting is “person-centered.”

Person-centered means that we are an active participant in the meeting and that it is your choices, preferences and needs which drive the discussion and planning -- not what services happen to be available or are the ones “usually” provided for people. There should be a discussion of your child's likes and dislikes, support needs and non-negotiable items to be included in the IPP. It is often good to have the notes taken on big pieces of paper that are put up on the walls so everyone can follow the discussion. The people at the meeting should work as a team to come up with creative ways of meeting your child's goals and dreams. Don’t be afraid to ask questions -- no question is too simple.

Make sure you understand what is being said, even if you don’t speak English.

The IPP meeting is about you (or your child). It is very important that you understand what is being said. If you do not speak English very well, the regional center must have an interpreter attend and should translate important documents for you.

Take notes to document the agreements (and disagreements).

Before the meeting ends, we will want to go over the things we have agreed and disagreed on. At the end of the meeting, your representative from Inland Empire Children will read the list to the team and make sure that everyone agrees with what we have written.

Complete the IPP document.

About Kids Advocacy will make sure to write down: (1) what services and supports will be provided (the type and amount); (2) who is going to provide the services; and (3) when the services will start. If the services cannot start right away because there are additional steps needed (for example, there is no available provider) the IPP must state what steps will be taken, who is responsible to do each step and the timelines for completing each step and then providing the support required by the IPP. The law says that these must be included in the IPP.

Sign the IPP (or a list of the agreements reached) at the meeting.

About Kids Advocacy strongly suggests that you DO NOT SIGN A PAPER THAT JUST INDICATES AGREEMENT WITH A “PROPOSED PLAN.” The IPP you sign should list the specific goals and objectives and the services to be provided. If the regional center will not write the entire IPP at the meeting, make a handwritten list of the agreements so that everyone can sign and take a copy home. The regional center can then type up the document on the form it uses and send it to us. Remember that you can agree to part of the IPP while still noting that you do not agree with other parts of the IPP document or with a refusal to put requested services in the IPP.

If a final decision cannot be reached on any issue(s), we can schedule another meeting within 15 days or file an appeal.

The law says that if the team cannot come to a final agreement at the meeting, Regional Center must schedule another meeting within 15 days. This means that, at the end of the meeting, the service coordinator cannot say that he or she will go to a committee or supervisor and let you know the decision. We should be able to speak to the decision maker face to face at the second meeting. If the answer at the first meeting is “no,” then we do not need a second meeting, and we will ask for a written notice and decide if the request is important enough to appeal.

Get a written notice of any denial.

If the regional center says “no” to any new service request, the law says that we must get a written notice of the denial within 5 days. If the regional center says it wants to change or end a service you are already getting, it must give you written notice 30 days in advance of the change or cut-off. We will need to say very clearly that we disagree with the decision and that we want a written notice. The notice should also include an appeal form that we can fill out if you choose to appeal.

IF THINGS DON’T WORK OUT

  • If there is disagreement, About Kids Advocacy can promptly file an appeal if you choose to challenge the denial of services. We must file the appeal within 10 days if you want current services to be continued during the appeal process. This is called “aid paid pending.”  If it is a denial of a new service or you do not need aid paid pending then you have 30 days to appeal.
  • If we do not receive a denial letter, About Kids Advocacy will contact the case manager. If we still do not receive it, About Kids Advocacy can file an administrative complaint (a “4731 complaint”) and a letter of appeal, if you choose to appeal.
  • If agreed-upon services are not provided, About Kids Advocacy can file an administrative complaint.
  • If the regional center delays making a decision, we will insist on a decision or treat the delay as a denial and file an appeal.