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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

California's Troubled Regional Centers

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss services for people with disabilities.

Regional centers are private nonprofits that contract with California's Department of Developmental Services to coordinate or provide services for people with developmental disabilities. The 21 regional centers help disabled people and their families help find and access a variety of services.

Maggie Angst and Mathew Miranda at The Sacramento Bee:

 In California, responsibility for finding services for people like Max sits with the state’s 21 regional centers — a $14 billion network of publicly-funded, privately-operated nonprofits that coordinate support for about 400,000 children and adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities.


 Despite efforts to address the longstanding inequities, racial and ethnic gaps in service continue to widen. Latino clients make up the largest share of California’s Regional Center clients, yet per capita, they receive significantly less funding than other racial and ethnic groups. For every dollar spent on White clients, Latino clients on average receive 41 cents, according to the most recent data from the Department of Developmental Services, which oversees the centers. Latinos at Sacramento’s Alta Regional Center got about 43 cents per $1 for White clients in 2021-22 – a considerable dip from 62 cents in 2015-16.


Many parents say they were forced to wait agonizing months or years to hear back about requests for certain services — a trend known as “denial by delay.” For some, it took upwards of eight to nine months just to get their child an initial assessment, which contradicts best practices around early intervention. Other parents reported being provided inaccurate information about costs or service eligibility. In too many cases, parents give up entirely, defeated by a bureaucratic maze they simply cannot navigate on their own.