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Appeals, Complaints & Comments

The Department of Developmental Services believes the California developmental services community is best served by the open exchange of information and opinions. DDS is also committed to providing mechanisms for the resolution of problems and complaints when they arise. A number of formal processes have been established for handling appeals and complaints. The following is a brief description of each process with a link to additional information:

Consumer Rights Complaint Process
The Consumer Rights Complaint Process is a mechanism to be used when an individual consumer, or any representative acting on behalf of a consumer, believes that any right has been wrongly or unfairly denied by a regional center, developmental center, or a service provider. This process is not to be used by consumers to resolve disputes about eligibility, or the nature, scope, or amount of services.

Fair Hearings
The Fair Hearing process is for resolving disputes with a regional or developmental center about eligibility or the nature, scope, or amount of services and supports. This process is not to be used by consumers to resolve issues related to denials of rights.

Early Start Complaint Processes (For Children From Birth to Age 3)
Early Start is for infants and toddlers under the age of three who are at risk of having a developmental disability or have a developmental disability or delay, and their families. There are three separate processes in place for addressing disagreements which arise under this program.

The Early Start Mediation Conference Requests is a voluntary process used to informally resolve disagreements between a parent, as defined in law, and a regional center or a local education agency related to any alleged violation of federal or state statutes/regulation governing California’s Early Start Program, including eligibility and services, or related to a proposal or refusal for identification, evaluation, assessment, placement, or services. Mediation can be requested as the first option for resolution or can also be requested when during a complaint or due process hearing process, if a parent decides that mediation might be more appropriate. A complaint must be withdrawn if the Complainant elects to participate in mediation within the 60 day complaint investigation.

The Early Start Due Process Hearing is used to resolve disagreements between parents and a regional center or a local education agency related to a proposal or refusal for identification, evaluation, assessment, placement, or services.

The Early Start State Complaint Process is used to investigate and resolve any alleged violation of federal or state statutes or regulations governing California's Early Start.

Title 17 Complaint Procedure
The Title 17 Complaint Procedure is to be used when: (1) one of the "personal rights" of an individual who resides in a developmental center, community care or health care facility, has been formally denied by the facility as allowed in Title 17 of California Code of Regulation Section 50530; and (2) the consumer disagrees with the facility's decision.

Family Home Agency Appeals
The Family Home Agency (FHA) appeal process can be used by a FHA applicant or vendor to appeal actions taken by a regional center concerning the FHA's vendorization, Certificate of Approval and movement of a consumer.

Vendorization Appeals
The Vendorization Appeal process can be used to appeal a denial of vendorization application, termination of vendorization, or failure of a regional center to comply with regulations.

Residential Facility Appeals
A vendored community care facility may appeal the actions taken by a regional center regarding service level disapproval, sanctions, findings of substantial inadequacy or immediate danger, or enforcement of any requirement by the regional center which is not contained in Title 17, California Code of Regulations.

Rates Appeals
The Rates Appeal process may be used by a vendor to appeal a rate set by the Department of Developmental Services, the effective date of the rate, or the denial of a rate adjustment.

Regional Center or Vendor/Contractor Whistleblower Complaints
If your complaint relates to an improper activity by a regional center or vendor/contractor, this process can be used to file the complaint with DDS.

Citizen Comments and Complaints Form (DS 2007)
If your problem or complaint does not fit one of the above formal processes, DDS has created a form which you may use to submit these complaints or comments to DDS. You may also use the form to acknowledge any individual, regional center, developmental center, or service provider for noteworthy service or conduct. The form is in the Adobe Acrobat format which should be printed and submitted by mail. (English | Spanish)

Consumer Complaint & Appeal Processes Manual
This Consumer Complaint and Appeal Processes manual outlines information on DDS consumer complaint processes, along with the appropriate application forms.
(English | Spanish)

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Last Updated: 7/28/2010