Self-Determination Program – Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

What is the Self-Determination Program?

A:The Self-Determination Program allows participants the opportunity to have more control in developing their service plans and selecting service providers to better meet their needs.
Q:

When does the Self-Determination Program start; can I enroll now?

A:The Self-Determination Program waiver was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on June 7, 2018. The initial 2,500 participants were selected October 1, 2018 and a second selection of participants were selected on November 22, 2019. After June 7, 2021, the program will be available to all eligible consumers.

If you are interested in SDP enrollment, visit the Program Enrollment page.

Q:

How can I keep updated on the progress of the Self-Determination Program?

A:Updates will be posted as they become available on the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Self-Determination website. To sign up for updates, please send an email to sdp@dds.ca.gov and ask to be included on the update notification list.
Q:

How can someone learn more about the Self-Determination Program?

A:Interested consumers, families, or others are encouraged to visit Self-Determination Program website to find out more information about California’s Self-Determination Program. Individuals may also contact their regional center to find out the date of the next local volunteer advisory committee meeting.
Q:

What is person-centered planning and how does it relate to the individual program plan?

A:Person-centered planning is about the individual’s future and reaching their goals. The process should be driven by the individual and reflect what is important to and for that person. Person-centered planning can include other people, such as family or friends, only if the individual chooses to include them in the process. Once the individual has made choices about what he or she wants and needs, an individual program plan (IPP) is written based on the individual’s decisions. The IPP lays out the individual’s goals and what is needed to reach those goals, including necessary services and supports.

For more information regarding person-centered planning, please see the section in these FAQs titled Person-Centered Planning.

Q:

Who is eligible for the Self-Determination Program?

A:Any eligible regional center consumer may participate in the Self-Determination program on a voluntary basis. The consumer must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Has a developmental disability as defined in Welfare and Institutions Code 4512.
  • Agrees to specific terms and conditions, which include but are not limited to, participation in an orientation for the Self-Determination Program, working with a Financial Management Services entity, managing the Self-Determination Program services within an individual budget; and only purchasing services which are eligible for federal financial participation and not available from a generic agency.
  • Does not live in a licensed long-term health care facility (i.e., a Skilled Nursing Facility or Intermediate Care Facility or State Developmental Center). If an individual living in one of these facilities expresses interest in the Self-Determination Program, through the person-centered planning process, he or she can request that the regional center begin making arrangements for their transition to the Self-Determination Program, provided that he or she is reasonably expected to transition to the community within 90 days.
Q:

Are children under three years of age eligible to participate in the SDP?

A:Some children under three years of age may participate in the SDP.  To be eligible for the SDP, the child must qualify to receive regional center services under Welfare and Institutions Code 4512.

Children under three years old who receive services through the Early Start program because they are at risk of having a developmental disability or  have developmental delays and have not qualified to receive regional center services under WIC 4512 are not eligible to participate in the SDP. Information about who is eligible for Early Start Services may be found here: What is Early Start? – CA Department of Developmental Services.

Q:

Can children under three years of age remain in Early Start Program if they qualify for Lanterman services and want to enroll in SDP?

A:Yes. Children under 3 whose families decide to receive services in the SDP can remain in the Early Start Program and continue to receive the same case management services they receive in Early Start. Consumers participating in the Early Start program will continue to have an Individual and Family Service Plan (IFSP) rather than the Individual Program Plan (IPP) that is developed for other regional center consumers.
Q:

Does a regional center consumer need to receive Medi-Cal to participate in the SDP?

A:Participants in the Self-Determination Program agree to conditions for participation. One condition is that Medi-Cal eligible individuals must timely apply for Medi-Cal. Your service coordinator can help you understand if you are Medi-Cal eligible. The regional center will assist the you in applying for Medi-Cal if you need help.
Some regional center consumers who are not eligible for regular Medi-Cal, may qualify for Medi-Cal through “institutional deeming”. The SDP conditions indicate that consumers and their families may consider institutional deeming to qualify for Medi-Cal. The regional center will assist the consumer in applying for “institutional deeming” Medi-Cal, if needed.
Regional center consumers who are not eligible for regular Medi-Cal or Medi-cal through “institutional deeming” may participate in the SDP.
Q:

What is Medi-Cal “institutional deeming”?

A:The “institutional deeming” Medi-Cal program is available to Medi-Cal consumers who are under 18 years of age. The consumer must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a qualifying developmental disability, two or more qualifying conditions and receive at least one qualifying service from your local regional center and use that service at least one time a year.
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Live with their family.
  • Be ineligible for other Medi-Cal coverage because of their family’s income.

Your regional center can provide you with more information about this program and help you apply for Medi-Cal under “institutional deeming” if the minor’s family wants to consider this option.

Q:

How do I enroll in Self Determination?

A:During the first three years of the Self-Determination Program, enrollment is limited to 2,500 people. More information about enrollment in the SDP can be found on the Self-Determination Program Enrollment webpage.
Q:

What is Orientation for the SDP? What is the difference between an Informational Meeting and the Orientation?

A:The Informational Meeting is an introductory overview of the SDP. After attending an Informational Meeting, people interested in the SDP can have their name added to the list from which the Department selects participants for the SDP.
The SDP Orientation is a requirement for selected individuals where they will receive more detail about what’s needed to enroll into the SDP.
Q:

How do I find out when and where Orientations are scheduled?

A:Individuals should contact their regional center or Local Advisory Committee regarding where, when, and in what languages SDP Orientations are scheduled.
Q:

Is the Orientation available in languages other than English?

A:Yes. Individuals should check with their regional center or Local Advisory Committee representative regarding where, when, and in what languages SDP Orientations are available.
Q:

What is person-centered planning?

A:Person-centered planning is about the individual’s future and reaching their goals. The process should be driven by the individual and reflect what is important to and for that person. Person-centered planning can include other people, such as family or friends, only if the individual chooses to include them in the process. The individual choices decided through person-centered planning about what the participant wants and needs and what services and supports will help them reach their goals is used to inform their individual program plan (IPP) with their regional center.

Background

For Self-Determination Program (SDP) participants, the individual program plan (IPP) must be developed utilizing a person-centered-planning process. Per the February 11, 2019 correspondence from the Department of Developmental Services, participants can request initial person-centered-planning services to assist them as they transition into the SDP.
Person-centered planning is an approach to determining, planning for and working toward the preferred future of a person with developmental disabilities and her or his family. The preferred future is what the person and family want to do in the future based on their strengths, capabilities, preferences, lifestyle and cultural background. Person-centered planning is a framework for planning and making decisions. It is not a collection of methods or procedures. Person-centered planning is based on an awareness of, and sensitivity to, the lifestyle and cultural background of the consumer and family. (Welfare & Institutions Code Section 4646.5(a)(1)).
Additionally, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations (or rules) for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS,) person-centered planning is a process directed by the person with services and supports needs. It may include a representative who the person has freely chosen, and/or who is authorized to make personal or health decisions for the person. The planning process should also involve others the person or their representative wishes to include, such as family members, legal guardians, friends or others. The person-centered planning process should provide the supports necessary to ensure the person directs the process to the maximum extent possible. Ultimately, the person-centered planning process leads to a written plan that is consistent with the person’s needs and desired outcomes and includes the person’s goals and preferences in areas such as recreation, transportation, friendships, therapies, home, employment, and family relationships.

Q:

What resources are available for support with person-centered planning services prior to enrollment in the SDP?

A:Regional centers can purchase initial person-centered planning services to assist participants as they transition into the SDP. A participant may request person-centered planning services, in addition to those provided by the regional center, to assist with the comprehensive planning to inform the development of the individual program plan (IPP). More information on this initial planning support can be found here.
Q:

What should the participant expect from the individual or organization providing person-centered planning services?

A:“One of the functions of the person-centered planning process is to help the person and the support team to develop innovative and non-traditional ways to meet the goals in the plan. The goals must not be restricted due to a lack of easily identified services or supports.” (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Home and Community Based Waiver).
The individual or organization providing person-centered planning services should be knowledgeable in person-centered planning and embrace the following concepts:

  • Presuming competence
  • Reframing behavior as communication
  • Respecting cultural diversity
  • Providing critical supports for health and safety across the lifespan so people may live in the community where and with whom they want (Sally Burton-Hoyle, Ed. D, Eastern Michigan University)

The individual or organization providing person-centered planning services are expected to demonstrate they have received training or certification in the person-centered facilitation process. If the selected individual or organization has been trained in any specific approaches (Planned Facilitation, Liberty Plans, MAPs, etc) the participant has the option to request and receive proof of such training.
The participant and their support team should determine how much time the planning process will take based on the needs of the participant, their own scheduling needs, as well as the recommendations of the individual or organization providing person-centered planning. Person-centered planning can range from one short and focused intensive meeting to several meetings, depending on the needs of the participant.
At the end of the planning process, the individual or organization providing person-centered planning services should ensure that there is a written document with clearly stated outcomes provided to the participant that captures the strengths, hopes and dreams of the participant, along with their vision for their future and the supports needed to have a meaningful life in the community.

Q:

What should the individual or organization providing person-centered planning services be paid?

A:In advance of the Department establishing rates for these services, here are some parameters that may assist you in discussing appropriate costs. Individuals or organizations providing person-centered planning services might charge between $25 – $75 per hour or more depending on experience. Individuals or organizations providing this service would likely include preparation and documentation time in addition to the time spent facilitating the meeting(s). The individual or organization may also charge a flat rate that might be as much as $2,500; however, there should be documentation from the provider indicating how many hours of service is being funded. Prior to the provision of service, the regional center must contact the Department at sdp@dds.ca.gov regarding any estimate that exceeds $2,500.

  • Non-vendored providers
    • The participant and individual or organization providing the service should come to an agreement regarding payment terms and then, prior to beginning planning services, provide that information to the Regional Center so that payment arrangements to the provider can be made under service code 024.
  • Vendorization
    • If the individual or organization is seeking vendorization from the Regional Center, they should contact the Community Services Department of the Regional Center in their community regarding the process for obtaining vendorization.
Q:

Is a participant required to have a person-centered plan separate from their individual program plan (IPP)?

A:No. A person-centered plan is optional.
Q:

How do I find a provider or someone to do my person-centered plan?

A:The regional center may be able to provide information and resources on obtaining a provider for a person-centered plan. Other resources may include vendored organizations or agencies that specialize in person-centered planning and practices. Speaking with others who have had person-centered plans or parent or consumer run organizations in the local community is also a good way to explore these resources.
Q:

Is there support to pay for initial person-centered planning when transitioning into the SDP?

A:Yes, assistance with paying for initial person-centered planning is available through the regional center.
Q:

If I have a separate person-centered plan, do I still have to have an individual program plan (IPP)?

A:Yes, an individual program plan, or IPP, is required in the SDP.
Q:

What if I disagree with my IPP?

A:As in traditional services, participants in the SDP have the right to appeal through the fair hearing process. Read about appeal rights on the DDS website on the Consumer Rights, Appeals & Complaints webpage.
Q:

What is an individual budget?

A:It is the amount of money a Self-Determination Program participant has available to purchase needed services and supports.
Q:

How does the individual budget amount get determined? Can my budget be adjusted?

A:The individual budget is determined by the individual program planning team, and is based upon the amount of purchase of service funds used by the individual in the most recent 12-months. This amount can be adjusted, up or down, if the individual program planning team determines that the individual’s needs, circumstances, or resources have changed. Additionally, the individual program planning team may adjust the budget to support any prior needs or resources that were not addressed in the individual program plan.
To view more information about the development of the individual budget, please view this PDF.
Q:

What if there is disagreement amongst the planning team regarding an increase in the individual budget?

A:A participant enrolled in the Self-Determination Program will have the same rights established under the traditional service model (e.g. appeals, fair hearing, and all other rights associated with the individual program plan process).
Q:

How does the individual budget amount get determined for an individual, who is either new to the regional center, or does not have a 12-month history of purchase of service costs?

A:For these individuals, the individual budget amount is determined by the individual program planning team by identifying the services and supports needed by the individual and available resources. The regional center will calculate the cost of providing services and supports by using the average cost paid by the regional center for each service or support unless the regional center determines that the consumer has a unique need that requires a higher or lower cost.
Q:

Are there restrictions on what the individual budget can be used for?

A:Yes, a participant can only purchase services and supports that are approved by the federal government and listed in the Self-Determination Program wavier. For the descriptions of the approved services please view this PDF.
Q:

Is the Self-Determination Program budget and In-Home Supportive Services [budget] different?

A:Yes. In-Home Supportive Services is a generic resource and is not included or paid for through the Self-Determination Program.
Q:

Will enrolling in the Self-Determination Program decrease an individual’s budget for services and supports?

A:No, your budget amount is the same as it would be if you were obtaining services through your regional center.
Q:

Can I use my budget to pay for recreation activities?

A:In the Self-Determination Program, you are able to purchase services approved in the Self-Determination waiver. For descriptions of approved services, please view this PDF.
Q:

What is the difference between the individual budget and the spending plan?

A:The individual budget is the amount of money an SDP participant has available to purchase needed services and supports.
The spending plan is how that money will be used to purchase services and supports.
Q:

Is there a cap on the budget? An amount that cannot be exceeded?

A:An individual’s budget amount cannot exceed the amount that services would have cost if the individual was not in the SDP.
Q:

What is a spending plan?

A:The spending plan details the way a participant has decided to utilize the funds in their individual budget for services and supports. To view more information about the spending plan and its relation to the individual budget, please visit this PDF.
Q:

What is the difference between the individual budget and the spending plan?

A:The individual budget is the amount of money an SDP participant has available to purchase needed services and supports.
The spending plan is how that money will be used to purchase services and supports.
Q:

Can a participant get support with developing a spending plan?

A:Support with developing a spending plan is available through the regional center. More information on assistance with initial planning, including developing a spending plan, can be found here
Additionally, funding has been allocated to each regional center and their local volunteer advisory committee to support participants as they transition into the SDP. More information can be found here.
Q:

Does the regional center approve the services in the spending plan?

A:The IPP team jointly develops and approves the IPP which includes the services and supports paid for through the participant’s spending plan.
Q:

What if I need to make changes in my spending plan during the year?

A:Participants may make changes to the spending plan during the year. Participants may transfer up to 10 percent of the funds originally distributed to any budget category to another budget category. Transfers in excess of 10 percent of the original amount allocated to any budget category may be made upon the approval of the regional center or the participant’s IPP team.
Support is available to participants from their FMS provider, their regional center and/or their planning team in making these changes.
Q:

What is an independent facilitator?

A:Participants in the Self-Determination Program may choose a person to help them in the following ways:

  • Assisting the individual with making informed decisions regarding their individual budget
  • Locating, accessing and coordinating services and supports consistent with the participant’s individual program plan (IPP)
  • Identifying immediate and long-term needs and developing options to meet those needs
  • Leading, participating, and/or advocating on behalf of participants in the person-centered planning process and development of the IPP
  • Obtaining identified services and supports
Q:

What type of certification or licensure should individuals request from independent facilitators?

A:It is not required that an independent facilitator have a certification or licensure. However, an independent facilitator is required to receive training in the principles of self-determination, the person-centered planning process, and the other responsibilities consistent with coordination of services for consumers’ individual program plans.
Q:

Where does the independent facilitator obtain the necessary training?

A:Individuals may connect with their local volunteer advisory committee, the regional center and/or other community organizations to explore existing resources or training opportunities for independent facilitators. To view more information about the requirements for the independent facilitator, please view this PDF.
Q:

Who pays the cost of the independent facilitator and how much does it cost?

A:If a participant chooses to hire an independent facilitator, the cost for this service is negotiated between the independent facilitator and the participant and is paid from the participant’s individual budget. Participants may choose to hire one or more independent facilitators.
Q:

What if I need help locating services and supports but choose not to work with an independent facilitator?

A:If a participant chooses not to use the services of an independent facilitator, he/she may choose to use a regional center service coordinator to provide the services and functions of the independent facilitator.
Q:

What are Financial Management Services (FMS)?

A:Financial Management Services (FMS) help participants manage their individual budgets by paying bills and managing the payroll for support workers.
Q:

Does everyone have to have an FMS provider?

A:Yes. The participant is required to utilize the services of an FMS provider of his or her choosing. The FMS provider must be vendored by a regional center.
Q:

Who can be a Financial Management Services Provider?

A:Any entity or person (except a relative, legal guardian or other legally responsible person) chosen by the participant that meets the required qualifications may be a Financial Management Services provider. For more information regarding requirements for FMS providers, please view this PDF.
Q:

As a Self-Determination Program participant, would I pay my providers directly and get reimbursed by the Financial Management Services entity, or would I submit the expenses to the Financial Management Services entity for payment to my providers?

A:The Financial Management Services provider will pay providers directly.
Q:

Who pays for the cost of my FMS provider?

A:The cost of the FMS provider will be paid by the participant out of their individual budget.
Q:

What are the different types of FMS services and how much does each cost?

A:There are three different models of Financial Management Services: Bill Payer, Sole Employer, and Co-Employer. The range of maximum rates within each model are dependent upon the number of services funded from your individual budget as a part of your individual program plan (IPP). For information regarding how the number of funded services affects the maximum rate of each model, please view this PDF.
Q:

For individuals needing 24-hour supportive services, is overtime pay applicable whether the co-employment model or fiscal employer agent is selected?

A:Each participant will need to work with their Financial Management Services Provider to determine when overtime pay is appropriate and/or required.
Q:

Will Financial Management Service providers be expected to verify the use of generic resources?

A:This will continue to be the role of the regional center service coordinator, as it is now in the traditional service delivery system. The Financial Management Services provider will only use the funds in the individual budget to pay for services included in the participant’s individual program plan (IPP).
Q:

Where do I find more information about Financial Management Services?

A:The Department has released a directive, which contains detailed information regarding the role of the Financial Management Services provider. To view the directive regarding Financial Management Services, please view this PDF.
Q:

How do I find a Financial Management Services provider?

A:The Financial Management Services provider is the only vendored service that is required in the Self-Determination Program. A list of FMS providers is available on the Financial Management Services Contact List webpage.
Q:

Are the services provided by the FMS provider counted when determining the FMS rate?

A:Yes, the FMS rate is based on the number of services, which includes the services of the FMS provider.
Q:

Where can an individual find a list of services available in the Self-Determination Program?

A:For a list and description of services that are approved in the Self-Determination Program, please view SDP Service Definitions.
Q:

Can a consumer request services through a provider that is not familiar to the regional center?

A:Yes, the Self-Determination Program allows the participant to choose the services and supports that best meet their needs and IPP objectives. In addition to choosing existing services, a participant can choose services offered from service providers or local businesses, hire their own support workers, or negotiate unique service arrangements with local community resources.  Other than Financial Management Services (FMS) providers, service providers do not have to be vendored through the regional center.
Q:

Can a Self-Determination participant purchase services that are provided by a generic agency such as IHSS, Medi-Cal, or a school district?

A:Self-Determination participants must use available generic resources first and cannot purchase or pay for these services through their SDP individual budget.
Q:

Are there services that cannot be funded with the SDP budget?

A:Yes, the Self-Determination Program can only fund services that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid determined are eligible for federal financial participation.  California’s SDP waiver identifies the services that are allowed, please view SDP Service Definitions. Participants may also purchase participant-directed goods and services if they meet specific requirements.
Q:

What if the IPP team disagrees about a service need?

A:A Self-Determination Program participant has the same rights as consumers who receive services through traditional regional center services. These include, appeals, fair hearing, and all other rights associated with the individual program plan process. Information on consumer rights, appeals, and complaints can be found here.
Q:

What is the HCBS Final Rule and how does it affect SDP services?

A:The HCBS Final Rule requires that places where people receive services (settings) meet the new criteria to qualify for federal funding under the Medicaid program (called “Medi-Cal” in California). This rule supports all regional center consumers in achieving their IPP outcomes in community settings that promote inclusion.  Services and supports designed for those with developmental disabilities would not automatically be excluded from the SDP. For more information, please visit CMS Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Regulations. All services selected by an SDP participant will need to be compliant with the HCBS Final Rule. The regional center will work with SDP participants to ensure that their services meet these requirements.
Q:

Are services available to address a specialized medical need still an option with the SDP?

A:Yes. Services and supports included in the individual program plan (IPP) can be provided through the SDP if available generic resources including Medi-Cal and private insurance are used first.
Q:

Who is required to get a background check? Will parents and family members need one also?

A:A criminal background check is required for anyone receiving payment, including family members, to provide direct personal care (assistance with dressing, grooming, bathing or personal hygiene services) to a consumer in the SDP.
Q:

Can a consumer request that a provider obtain a background check?

A:Yes. Consumers or the consumer’s financial management service provider may request a background check for providers of services and supports.
Q:

Who is responsible for paying for the background check?

A:The person providing services or their employing agency is responsible for the cost.
Q:

Is there a way to get more information regarding criminal background checks?

A:Yes, if there are more questions regarding background checks, an email can be sent to sdpbackground@dds.ca.gov.
Q:

Are special incident reports (SIR) required in the SDP?

A:Vendored providers are required to file SIRs in the SDP. This includes the FMS provider’s responsibility to report special incidents that the FMS has knowledge of or that has been reported to the FMS by the participant, a service provider, or other person.
Q:

Do I have to enroll in the Self-Determination Program?

A:Enrollment in the Self-Determination Program is completely voluntary. Just like any other program offered under the Lanterman Act in California, an individual chooses what is best for them. An individual may choose to leave the Self-Determination Program at any time.
Q:

What kind of rights and responsibility will participants or their family have if they choose to participate in the Self-Determination Program?

A:Participants in the Self-Determination Program (SDP) have the responsibility to receive an orientation; to have an individual program plan (IPP) that is person-centered; to purchase services and supports necessary to implement their IPP; to purchase services and supports only when there are no services available from generic agencies and the service is eligible for federal financial participation; to manage SDP service and supports within their individual budget consistent with your IPP and spending plan; and to choose a Financial Management Services provider.
Q:

If I choose to participate in the Self-Determination Program, will I still have the same rights as other regional center consumers?

A:Yes, participants enrolled in the Self-Determination Program have the same rights as other regional center consumers.  These include appeals, eligibility determinations, and all other rights associated with the individual program plan process. Information on individuals’ rights can be found at Consumer Rights, Appeals, and Complaints.
Q:

If a current participant moves to another regional center, can they still participate in the SDP?

A:Yes, the individual will still be able to participate at their new regional center.
Q:

Where can I find more information about my rights and responsibilities in the Self-Determination Program?

A:More information can be found at SDP Statute (California Law) and in other FAQs on the SDP webpage.

Share  

Last modified: October 13, 2021