Appeals Process (Formerly Fair Hearings)

A Process for Consumers or Applicants Age 3 Years and Older

The fair hearing process is a process for resolving disagreements between the regional center or state developmental center and consumers or applicants who are age three or older.

Under the fair hearing process, disagreements may be about services, eligibility or any decision or action of the regional center or state developmental center with which you disagree. The fair hearing process includes a voluntary informal meeting, mediation, and a fair hearing. The fair hearing brochure and necessary forms to file for a fair hearing and withdraw from a fair hearing are available from your local regional center or by using the following links. If you have questions about the fair hearing process, you may contact your local regional center or the Department of Developmental Services at 916-651-6309.

Fair Hearing Process Brochure PDF
This brochure advises an applicant/recipient of regional center services of their appeal rights and the fair hearing procedures.
DS 1803 – Notice of Proposed Action PDF
DS 1803 is completed by the regional center to advise an applicant/recipient of regional center services of any action the regional center proposes to take which may affect their services and their right to appeal.
DS 1804 – Notification of Resolution PDF
DS 1804 is to be completed when the issues identified for hearing have been resolved and the hearing is no longer necessary.
DS 1805 – Fair Hearing Request PDF
DS 1805 is to be completed by the applicant/recipient of regional center services, or his/her authorized representative, if an informal meeting, and/or mediation, and/or fair hearing is desired.

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The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is making changes to the appeals process in response to concerns from self-advocates, family members, and other stakeholders.  More information about specific changes can be found below.

Regional centers must implement final hearing decisions as soon as possible and implement the decision no later than 30 days after the date of the final hearing decision.  If the regional center can’t implement the final hearing decision within 30 days, they must notify in writing, the person the hearing was about and any authorized representative and the Department  of Developmental Services.  The regional center must explain:

  • The specific exceptional circumstances that make it impossible to implement the decision within 30 days: and
  • The date when the decision will be implemented.

A regional center client or their authorized representative may ask DDS for help getting a hearing decision implemented.  Email or use this online form to ask DDS for help.

Regional centers can submit their implementation delay letters to DDS here.

Beginning October 1, 2022, the  regional center may only have a California licensed attorney attend any step in the appeals process if you also you have a California licensed attorney.  This rule also applies if you are a licensed California attorney.

You must tell the regional center if you will have an attorney attend your mediation or fair hearing.

  • You must tell your regional center 5 days before your mediation.
  • You must tell your regional center 15 days before a fair hearing.

A hearing officer may decide that an attorney can attend the hearing in the “interest of justice.”  This means the hearing officer can let an attorney attend if it will help make it a fair process.  The hearing officer must tell the parties about this decision before the hearing starts.

September 20, 2022 Directive to Regional Centers – Attendance of Attorneys in the Appeal Process


Last modified: November 8, 2022