Hidden Resources - Regional Center Q & A


By Fran Goldfarb


What are Regional Centers?


The Regional Centers are:


       a system of 21 independent private non-profit agencies that are under contract with the California Department of Developmental Services.

       provide funding to purchase services needed by people with developmental disabilities and their families.


There are seven Regional Centers in Los Angeles County and each serves a particular of the county.


Who is eligible for services from Regional Center?


       Children, birth through three years old, who are have or are at risk for a developmental disability

       Individuals who were diagnosed with a developmental disability before age 18, and whose disability is expected to continue lifelong and represents a substantial handicap.

       The eligible disabilities include:


       Cerebral Palsy


       Mental Retardation

       Disabling conditions that resemble mental retardation


Is ADD covered by Regional Center?


Many conditions such as ADD and Tourette's Syndrome do not fall under the umbrella of developmental disability and are therefore not covered by the Regional Center system.


Why do some Regional Centers fund children with Asperger's Syndrome and other's do not?


All of the Regional Centers contract with the DDS but they are independent agencies and how they provide services is governed by their Board of Directors. Each Board has a mandate to decide how services should look in their community. Each individual Regional Center may interpret substantial handicap differently and this will affect their choices as to whom to fund.


A good suggestion: When you call to have an intake for your child, say that (s)he has Autism. Let the Regional Center determine where on the spectrum they fall.


What services are covered?


Regional Center doesn't have a menu of services; instead services should be based on what your child needs. So describe your concern or need, don't just ask for a service.



       Regional Center is the payer of last resort so if the school district or your insurance company can fill the request, you will be expected to try there first.

       For children over age 3, anything having to do with their education comes through the school district.

       Regional Center can fund such services as after-school programs or aides, respite for parents and behavioral therapy.


How do I apply?


Call your local Regional Center and ask to talk with their Intake Coordinator.


Local Regional Centers


North Los Angeles Regional Center

818 778-1900

Areas covered: Agoura, Calabasas, San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley


Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center

213 383-1300

Areas covered: Burbank, Glendale, Northeast LA, Pasadena


Westside Regional Center

310 258-4000

Areas covered: Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Malibu, Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, West LA