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What is The Lanterman Act?

The Lanterman Act can be found in the 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.

The Lanterman Act creates a system wherein each person (client) with a qualifying developmental disability is empowered to participate in choices about where and how they live, learn, work and play. Each Client has an Individual Program Plan (IPP) which specifies the services and supports the Client will receive, while also considering their 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).

There are five eligibility categories as defined under the DSM V, developmental disabilities, Intellectual Disability (formerly MR), Epilepsy, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury and Fifth Category.  Once a Client is determined to be eligible they remain so for life.

These supports and services are delivered through Regional Centers (RC) located throughout California. RCs 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 through qualified vendors. The Lanterman Act explains how service providers operate and creates an appeals process for Clients and their families to follow if they are not satisfied with services provided by the vendors and/or actions taken by their RC.

This summary is not intended to be a full account of the Lanterman Act.  Persons who are potentially eligible to become a Client of their local RC should seek more complete information on what is available through a Regional Center.

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