Regional Center Eligibility & Services

Eligibility Assessments

Regional centers provide diagnosis and assessment of eligibility and help plan, access, coordinate and monitor the services and supports that are needed because of a developmental disability. There is no charge for the diagnosis and eligibility assessment.

Once eligibility is determined, a case manager or service coordinator is assigned to help develop a plan for services, tell you where services are available, and help you get the services. Most services and supports are free regardless of age or income.

A person-centered planning approach is used to decide where a person with developmental disabilities will live and the kinds of services needed. Everyone who uses regional center services has a planning team that includes the individual using the services, family members, regional center staff and anyone else who is asked to be there by the individual. The team ensures that services support the individual’s choices including where they live, how they spend the day, and their hopes and dreams for the future.

There is a requirement for parents to share the cost of 24-hour out-of-home placements for children under age 18. This share depends on the parents’ ability to pay. For further information, see Parental Fee Program. There may also be a co-payment requirement for other selected services. For further information, see Family Cost Participation Program.

Infants & Toddlers

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. The criteria for determining the eligibility of infants and toddlers is specified in Section 95014 of the California Government Code. In addition, individuals at risk of having a child with a developmental disability may be eligible for genetic diagnosis, counseling and other prevention services. For information about these services, see Early Start.

Eligibility is established through diagnosis and assessment performed by regional centers.

Provisional Eligibility

A child who is three or four years of age may qualify for provisional eligibility for regional center services, without needing a diagnosis of developmental disability as specified in W&I Code section 4512(a)(1). Provisional eligibility for regional center services is for a child who demonstrates significant functional limitations in at least two major life activities outlined in W&I Code section 4512(a)(2). A disability solely physical in nature does not meet the eligibility criteria. It is not a requirement of provisional eligibility for a three or four-year-old child to have been served in Early Start. Similar to individuals who are eligible pursuant to W&I Code section 4512(a)(1), a child who is determined to be provisionally eligible will have an Individual Program Plan. For information about eligibility criteria, see Lanterman Act Provisional Eligibility.

Children & Adults

To be eligible for services, a person must have a disability that begins before the individual’s 18th birthday that is expected to continue indefinitely and present a substantial disability. Qualifying conditions include intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, and other disabling conditions as defined in Section 4512(a)(1) of the California Welfare and Institutions Code.

Eligibility is established through diagnosis and assessment performed by regional centers.

Services & Supports

DDS is responsible for designing and coordinating services for Californians with developmental disabilities. DDS contracts with regional centers to plan, access, coordinate and monitor these services.

Some of the services and supports provided by the regional centers include:

  • Information and referral
  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • Counseling
  • Lifelong individualized planning and service coordination
  • Purchase of necessary services included in the individual program plan
  • Resource development
  • Outreach
  • Assistance in finding and using community and other resources
  • Advocacy for the protection of legal, civil and service rights
  • Early intervention services for at risk infants and their families
  • Genetic counseling
  • Family support
  • Planning, placement, and monitoring for 24-hour out-of-home care
  • Training and educational opportunities for individuals and families
  • Community education about developmental disabilities


Last modified: May 21, 2024