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Consumer Rights Complaint Process
What is the Consumer Complaint Process?
Section 4731 of the Welfare and Institutions Code (W&I Code) permits each consumer or any representative acting on his or her behalf, to pursue a complaint against a regional center, developmental center, or provider.
Who do I complain to if I believe that my rights have been violated?
Your complaint should be made to the director of the regional center from which you receive case management services. If you reside in a state developmental center, you should complain to the director of that developmental center.
How is this different from Fair Hearing?
The Fair Hearing Process is the procedure to use if you disagree with the nature, scope, or amount of services you receive, or are requesting the regional center to provide. This includes whether you are eligible for regional center services. Under this process, you are appealing a decision of the regional center about the services you are requesting or receiving.
The Consumer Complaint Process is the procedure to use if you believe that the regional center, developmental center, or a provider, has violated or improperly withheld a right to which you are entitled under the law. Under this process, you are asking that the regional center, developmental center, or provider, change its procedures for dealing with you and others in the future.
What will the Regional Center/Developmental Center Director do?
Within 20 working days of receiving the complaint, the regional center/developmental center director will investigate whether the charges are true and send a written response to you and, if appropriate, to the service provider. The regional center/developmental center director's response should contain a proposed resolution to your complaint, including suggestions to resolve your concerns or actions that will, or should, be taken so the problem does not occur in the future. It may or may not find that a right has been violated. If the issues in the complaint are about the nature, scope, or amount of services you receive, the regional center/developmental center director's response should refer you to your case manager to request an IPP meeting or to the Fair Hearing Process. The written response you receive from the regional center/developmental center director should include a telephone number and mailing address for referring your complaint to the Director of the Department of Developmental Services. The regional center/developmental center director's proposed resolution to your complaint will become effective on the 20th working day after you receive it unless you refer it to the next level of appeal.
What if I am not satisfied with the action taken or proposed by the Regional Center/Developmental Center Director?
If you are not satisfied with the action taken or proposed by the regional center/developmental center director, you may, within 15 working days, send your complaint in writing to the Director of the Department of Developmental Services. The Director will, within 45 days of receiving your complaint, issue a written administrative decision and send a copy of the decision to you, the director of the regional center or developmental center, and, if applicable, to the service provider. There is no administrative procedure to appeal the decision of the Director of the Department of Developmental Services.
Is the Regional Center/Developmental Center required to inform me about my right to file a complaint?
All consumers, or where appropriate, their parents, legal guardian, conservator, or authorized representative, must be notified in writing in a language that they comprehend, of the right to file a complaint when they apply for services from a regional center and at each regularly scheduled planning meeting.
How to file a complaint?
Send the completed Welfare and Institution Code Section 4731 Complaint form (DS 255 English | Spanish) or submit a signed and dated letter to the regional center or developmental center director that you are filing a complaint against per the Welfare and Institution Code Section 4731 complaint process.
If you have questions about this process, please contact your local Clients' Rights Advocate:
or contact:Appeals, Complaints & Projects Section
Department of Developmental Services
1600 9th Street, Room 340 (MS 3-9)
Sacramento, CA 95814
Voice: (916) 651-6309
Fax (916) 654-3641