California Regional Centers & Autism Services

Introduction to California Regional Centers

The California regional centers provide a variety of short and long-term services to developmentally disabled children and adults. There are 21 private, non-profit regional centers throughout California. They are contracted by the State Department of Developmental Services (DDS), which administers state law (the Lanterman Act) and regulation (Title 17) that governs the Regional Center system. The Regional Centers:
  • Are community based agencies that serve individuals with developmental disabilities
  • Are governed by their own Boards of Directors Receive funds from the State of
  • California’s Department of Developmental Services
  • Serve approximately 250,000 individuals and their families statewide
  • Provide service coordination, advocacy, information, support and referrals to service providers for:
  • young children with developmental disabilities
  • adolescents with developmental disabilities
  • adults with developmental disabilities
  • parents
  • caregivers
 While regional centers are governed by the Lanterman Act and Title 17, each regional center operates independently, so there are many differences in the administration of services provided from one regional center to another. The ability of regional centers to provide for services for children, adults and their families has been affected by limitations in public funding.

Regional Center Eligibility and Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

The first step in the process is for the family to apply for regional center services. The regional center will conduct an intake evaluation process to determine if the identified family member is eligible for services. According to the DDS website, 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. A substantial disability is defined by the existence of significant functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of life activity, as determined by a regional center, and as appropriate to the age of the person: 1. Self-care 2. Receptive and expressive language 3. Learning 4. Mobility 5. Self-direction 6. Capacity for independent living 7. Economic self-sufficiency Additionally, 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. They must have a developmental delay in one or more of these five areas: 1. Cognitive development 2. Physical and motor development, including vision and hearing 3. Communication development 4. Social or emotional development, or 5. Adaptive development

The Lanterman Act

California’s Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act requires that regional centers provide services to individuals with developmental disabilitiesThe law provides those with development disabilities the means of integrating into community life and experience everyday living available to people without disabilities. The Lanterman Act supports individuals of any age or degree of disability.The Lanterman Act defines developmental disability as:
  • A disability that is the result of mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and other conditions that are similar to mental retardation and require services that are similar to those required by individuals with mental retardation.
  • Originates prior to age 18.
  • is expected to continue over the person’s lifetime
  • Is not solely physical in nature.
  • Is substantially handicapping
 According to California Code of Regulations, Title 17, Section 54001. “Substantial Handicap means a condition which results in major impairment of cognitive and/or social functioning. The extent of the impairment is such that the person will require interdisciplinary planning and coordination of special or generic services to assist the individual in achieving maximum potential.”

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that School Districts and Regional Centers provide services for people with developmental disabilities which includes autism. For qualified children who are under three years old, the regional centers have the responsibility for providing needed supports and services.
  • If your child is under the age of 3, then, as mandated under IDEA services provided through the “Early Start” program are required from the regional center. Regional centers are required to provide services to infants and toddlers in the five areas that are listed in the previous section of this article. nce a child is 3-years-old, school districts assume primary responsibility for providing services and education support for disabled children until their schooling is complete.
The regional center shares responsibility with the school district for the child’s well-being. IDEA mandates that school districts are required to provide Free Appropriate Public Education, which is specialized instruction without charge. A child is only removed from the regular education environment if the severity of his or her disability prevents satisfactory results. After high school or at age 22, there is no entity mandated to provide educational services. Regional centers are the agencies with primary responsibility to assess and address the ongoing support needs of the qualified individual, throughout the lifetime of the individual.

Autism Treatment Services and Vista Center for Behavior Analysis

When a regional center determines that your child is eligible for services and he or she requires intervention to enhance development in the cognitive, communication, social, and/or adaptive skills areas, or intervention to decrease or eliminate challenging behaviors, they most likely will refer you to a private agency that provides services based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) principles. ABA is the only scientifically-proven treatment for increasing desired behaviors and reducing challenging behaviors in individuals with developmental disabilities. Vista Center for Behavior Analysis has been providing ABA services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities since January, 2001. Vista’s ABA programs are designed to help children, adolescents and adults develop the skills that are necessary for the individual to be able to lead the most independent, fulfilling and productive life of which he or she is capable. Vista provides intensive ABA services to children as young as two and one-half years of age. We offer intensive ABA services to children, to help them develop them overcome their skills deficits as quickly as possible. For teens and adult Vista offers not only our behavior intervention program but we also have developed an Adaptive Skills Program (ASP). In the ASP we utilize ABA principles to assess and address the needs of individuals who require support for the development of essential life skills, including hygiene, grooming, socialization, community integration, independent living, and vocational training, among other skills. Vista will collaborate with you and the regional center to ensure that an individualized program is created to enhance the abilities and skills of your child.

Regional Center Locations

If your child or young adult is in need of ABA or ASP services, Vista Center for Behavior Analysis will be pleased to assist your family. The Regional Centers with whom Vista currently works are listed below:

Regional Centers

Areas Served

Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center
1000 South Fremont
Alhambra, CA 91802-7916
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7916
Alhambra, CA 91802-7916
Eastern Los Angeles county including the communities of Alhambra and Whittier
Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center
3303 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Central Los Angeles county including Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena
North Los Angeles County Regional Center
15400 Sherman Way, Suite 170
Van Nuys, CA 91406-4211
Northern Los Angeles county including San Fernando and Antelope Valleys
San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center
761 Corporate Center Drive
Pomona, CA 91768
Eastern Los Angeles county including El Monte, Monrovia, Pomona, and Glendora
South Central Los Angeles Regional Center
2500 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90018
South Central Los Angeles County including Carson, Compton, and Huntington Park
To obtain our services in your area, please call us at (661) 425-7066.