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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.

Early Start Mediation Conference Request This is a voluntary process, on the part of both parties, used to resolve disagreements between a parent and a regional center or a local educational agency involving any matter related to Early Start or related to a proposal or refusal to change or initiate the identification, evaluation, assessment, placement, or services. Mediation may be used as a first option for resolution or may be requested at any time during a due process hearing or the compliant process. The mediation conference must be completed within 30 days from the receipt of the request by the Office of Administrative Law.

Early Start Due Process Hearing This process is used to resolve disagreements between parents and a regional center or local educational agency involving any matter related to Early Start or related to a proposal or refusal to change or initiate the identification, evaluation, assessment, placement, or services.This hearing must be completed within 30 days from receipt of the request by the Office of Administrative Law. The decision is final unless appealed to the superior court of appropriate jurisdiction or civil action is brought by any aggrieved parties.

The Early Start State Complaint Process This process is used to investigate and resolve any alleged violation of federal or state statutes or regulations governing the Early Start program. DDS, and if the complaint involves a local educational agency, the California Department of Education, investigates the allegations and issues a written decision to all parties within 60 days of receipt of the complaint. (See California Code of Regulations, Title 17, Sections 52170-52174)

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.

Language Access Complaint Process
It is the policy of the Department of Developmental Services to provide the public equal access to information about its programs and provision of services. DDS strives to reduce and/or eliminate any language barriers for persons who are non-English speaking or who have limited English proficiency. In accordance with the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act and Title VI of Civil Rights Act of 1964, DDS provides verbal interpretation and translation of written materials regarding the DDS service delivery system in the languages that meet a 5 percent threshold of the persons served, as well as many of other non-threshold languages as possible by utilizing certified bi-lingual DDS staff or contracted services.

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.

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: 11/29/2018