The state Department of Developmental Services has placed on probation the largest of 21 publicly funded regional centers serving developmentally disabled people, saying it illegally used state money to develop housing, violated the center's contract with the state and circumvented a statutory freeze placed on rates paid to care providers.
The department sent a letter dated Jan. 19 about its actions to the center's board in Southern California.
Its demands include requiring the center to complete an inventory of all state property it maintains, analyze all purchase-of-service funds used for housing services and improve "the culture within the organization which has discouraged employees from raising issues for fear of intimidation and retaliation." The department demands most of the corrective action be completed by March 31.
The letter followed a Jan. 2 Bee story investigating the real estate practices of the regional center – which serves Riverside and San Bernardino counties – and its nonprofit housing affiliate, the California Housing Foundation.
Department spokeswoman Nancy Lungren said the center's failure to comply with the letter's demands could produce punishment ranging from further warnings to the termination of its contract.
"These are very serious matters, and (the department) will work with Inland Regional Center to ensure that it comes into compliance," Lungren said.