2016 is a milestone year for California's community-based developmental disabilities services community. 50 years ago, a pair of pilot programs were created, forming the basis for the Lanterman Act. While the promise of the Lanterman Act is now under great threat due to years of underfunding, cuts, and rate freezes, our community has just cause to celebrate half a century of opportunities created for people with developmental disabilities.

We welcome you to this year's celebrations, and look forward to many opportunities around the state for all communities to share their pride in, and appreciation for, the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act.


Welfare and Institutions Code §4501

The State of California accepts a responsibility for persons with developmental disabilities and an obligation to them which it must discharge. Affecting hundreds of thousands of children and adults directly, and having an important impact on the lives of their families, neighbors, and whole communities, developmental disabilities present social, medical, economic, and legal problems of extreme importance.

The complexities of providing services and supports to persons with developmental disabilities requires the coordination of services of many state departments and community agencies to ensure that no gaps occur in communication or provision of services and supports. A consumer of services and supports, and where appropriate, his or her parents, legal guardian, or conservator, shall have a leadership role in service design.

An array of services and supports should be established which is sufficiently complete to meet the needs and choices of each person with developmental disabilities, regardless of age or degree of disability, and at each stage of life and to support their integration into the mainstream life of the community. To the maximum extent feasible, services and supports should be available throughout the state to prevent the dislocation of persons with developmental disabilities from their home communities.

Services and supports should be available to enable persons with developmental disabilities to approximate the pattern of everyday living available to people without disabilities of the same age. Consumers of services and supports, and where appropriate, their parents, legal guardian, or conservator, should be empowered to make choices in all life areas. These include promoting opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to be integrated into the mainstream of life in their home communities, including supported living and other appropriate community living arrangements. In providing these services, consumers and their families, when appropriate, should participate in decisions affecting their own lives, including, but not limited to, where and with whom they live, their relationships with people in their community, the way in which they spend their time, including education, employment, and leisure, the pursuit of their own personal future, and program planning and implementation. The contributions made by parents and family members in support of their children and relatives with developmental disabilities are important and those relationships should also be respected and fostered, to the maximum extent feasible, so that consumers and their families can build circles of support within the community.

The Legislature finds that the mere existence or the delivery of services and supports is, in itself, insufficient evidence of program effectiveness. It is the intent of the Legislature that agencies serving persons with developmental disabilities shall produce evidence that their services have resulted in consumer or family empowerment and in more independent, productive, and normal lives for the persons served. It is further the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Developmental Services, through appropriate and regular monitoring activities, ensure that regional centers meet their statutory, regulatory, and contractual obligations in providing services to persons with developmental disabilities. The Legislature declares its intent to monitor program results through continued legislative oversight and review of requests for appropriations to support developmental disabilities programs.