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Supplement A: Common Terms and Abbreviations

Supplement A: Common Terms and Abbreviations

The Developmental Disabilities system (called DD for short) uses many special terms and abbreviations. This supplement will help you, your family, and your advocates understand the lingo.

Adaptive Skills

Adaptive skills help you adjust well to environments and situations. Examples are communication, self-care, home living, self-direction, work, health, social, and safety skills.

ADL (Activities of Daily Living)

ADL are routine daily activities, such as getting dressed, preparing meals, household chores, working at a job, going to school, and using transportation.


Advocacy is when you or someone else actively represents and supports your needs and interests so you can get the services and supports you need.

Aid Paid Pending

This is your right to keep getting services while you wait for an administrative fair hearing decision. To keep getting services, you must file for a hearing within 10 days of the regional center’s notice that said your services would end or be cut.

AM (Ambulatory) and Non-AM (Non-Ambulatory) Facilities

These terms describe the consumers a facility can serve. You are ambulatory if you can walk. According to fire regulations, if you can walk but have cognitive deficits, and cannot leave the facility without help in an emergency, you may be considered non-ambulatory.


An appeal is a legal process of challenging an official decision. In this manual, an appeal is the legal process of challenging a regional center or developmental center decision to deny or reduce your services. An appeal includes the informal meeting (optional), mediation (optional), and the state fair hearing.

For more information on appeals, see Chapter 10.

Area Boards

See State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD). This is what the Area Boards are now called.

ARCA (Association of Regional Center Agencies)

ARCA is an association of the 21 regional centers. ARCA negotiates contracts with DDS for the regional centers. ARCA also takes policy and legislative positions on behalf of all the regional centers.

ARM (Alternative Residential Model)

ARM is a rate system for Community Care Facilities (CCFs) that serve people with developmental disabilities.


Assessment is a way to identify your unique strengths and needs, and the services to meet those needs.

It can include observations, reviewing your records, and formal testing. Regional center must assess you to decide if you are eligible for regional center services within 120 days of your initial intake. They must do it within 60 days if waiting longer would risk your health and safety.

Assistive Devices

Items or equipment that help you lead a more normal and productive life. They can range from simple to complex.

Authorized Representative

Your Authorized Representative can speak for you so your interests and needs can be met. This person can be your parent or guardian (if you are a minor), conservator (if you are an adult), someone you chose, or someone the State Council on Developmental Disabilities appoints for you.


Autism is a term in the Lanterman Act that most professionals now call Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People with autism have problems with social interaction and communication in different settings. They also have repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities.

The severity of autism varies from one person to another, and diagnosing autism can be difficult for many reasons. This is partly because autism and other disabilities share some common features, such as impaired social interaction and social behaviors.

For more information on autism, see Chapter 2.

Behavior Modification Services

These services and techniques help you change or adapt your behavior to protect your safety, the safety of others, and to improve your skills.

Case Management or Service Coordination

These both mean planning, finding, and getting the services you need. The regional center must actively help you do this. Usually your service coordinator is a regional center employee. Your service coordinator may also be called a case manager, social worker, or Client Program Coordinator (CPC).

Catchment Area

A catchment area is the geographic area that a regional center serves under its contract with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

CCF (Community Care Facility)

People with developmental disabilities may live or go to a CCF. A CCF can be residential (group home) or non-residential (day program). The Community Care Licensing Division of the Department of Social Services licenses CCFs. DDS usually sets the CCF rates for consumers, but sometimes the regional center negotiates rates.

For more information on CCFs, see Chapter 7.

CDER (Client Development Evaluation Report)

CDER is a tool regional centers use. CDER records information about your disability, level of functioning, and deficits (including behavior issues). Your CDER should be updated at your IPP meeting. The information collected using this tool may be combined (without listing consumer names) to summarize consumer characteristics under a particular service model or across the state.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects your control over your movements. It is caused by developmental problems or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement and posture. If you have cerebral palsy, you may have trouble with fine motor tasks (such as writing or using scissors), balance or walking, and involuntary movements. Symptoms differ from person to person and may change.

Cerebral palsy most often starts at birth or within the first few years of life. The early signs usually appear before age 3. Babies with cerebral palsy are often slow to reach developmental milestones, such as learning to roll over, sit, crawl, smile, or walk.

For more information on cerebral palsy, see Chapter 2.

Circle of Support

This is an informal group of people who meet and talk with you regularly. Your circle of support can help you start and keep natural supports. They can help you with your IPP goals and objectives. People in your circle of support do not get paid.

CMS (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services)

CMS is the federal agency that oversees Medicaid funding to the states. Medicaid pays the state back for many services and supports for people with developmental disabilities through Medi-Cal and Home- and Community-Based Services Waivers. For information on the DD Waiver, see Chapter 11.

Cognitive Skills

Cognitive skills are defined in regulations as your ability to solve problems, adapt to new situations, think abstractly, and learn (or “profit”) from experience. See 17 CCR § 54002.

Community Inclusion

Inclusion means you are part of your community in at least these 4 areas:

  • You live in a typical community setting, like a house or apartment (instead of an isolated setting, like an institution or a nursing home);
  • You participate in local culture and lifestyle. Examples: being a farmhand in a rural community, owning your condominium or home, or belonging to a church or club;
  • You have relationships with others who are not paid to help you, like friends, coworkers, neighbors, or a spouse; and
  • You have a right to make choices about your own life.

Community Integration

Community integration means you live, work, and play in the same places and ways as people without disabilities. It means you are physically present in natural communities. And you have friends, neighbors, and coworkers, or belong to community associations and boards. Community integration is an important part of community inclusion, but sometimes you may need extra help to fully participate in your community.

Community Participation

Community participation means you participate in community life. For example, you may support local businesses, join local clubs or associations, volunteer for community projects or activities, or use community doctors and dentists for your health care.

CIE (Competitive Integrated Employment)

CIE means working for pay (at least minimum wage) in the community along with people without disabilities. Work can be full-time or part-time, with the same level of benefits as other employees where you work. Benefits could be paid vacation and sick time, health insurance, and retirement saving plans. You should also have chances to advance to other positions, just like other employees. Having your own business counts as working for pay.


If you are 18 or older and need help with decisions about daily living, the court can appoint a person or agency, called a conservator, to help you. A conservator of the person makes sure you have food, clothes, and housing. A conservator of the estate manages your money and other property. Sometimes the conservator of the person and the conservator of the estate are the same person.

If you are a regional center client (or could qualify as one) and you need some help (but not a lot), you may have a limited conservatorship. A limited conservatorship lets you be more self-reliant and independent. It is called limited because you could still take care of yourself and manage your money and property if the court decides you can. The court can give a conservator up to 7 powers. Powers are the ability to make decisions for you in those 7 areas.


This is the word that the Lanterman Act uses for people who get regional center services.

CPC (Client Program Coordinator)

CPC is another name for a regional center service coordinator. A CPC may also be called a case manager or social worker.

CPP (Community Placement Plan)

The CPP helps you move out of or avoid being in a restrictive setting like a developmental center. Each regional center develops a CPP every year. The CPP is approved by DDS and is part of the annual budget.

CRA (Clients’ Rights Advocate)

A CRA makes sure your civil, legal, and service rights are protected if you get services from a regional center or live in Porterville Developmental Center or Canyon Springs. Your CRA provides a variety of advocacy services.

CRAs do not work for the regional center, Porterville Developmental Center, or Canyon Springs. The regional center CRAs and Assistant CRAs work for Disability Rights California’s Office of Clients Rights Advocacy (OCRA). The Porterville and Canyon Springs CRAs work for the State Council on Developmental Disabilities. See Chapter 5 about Advocacy.

Crisis Intervention Services

These services try to solve problems to help you stay in your living situation. Services include mental health and behavior modification, short-term residential services, or extra staff.

DC (Developmental Center)

A DC is a state institution for people with developmental disabilities. There used to be many DCs. Now there is only one – Porterville Developmental Center. There is also one “community facility” that is like a DC – Canyon Springs.

DD (Developmental Disability)

Under California law, a developmental disability (DD) is cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, intellectual disability, and other conditions closely related to intellectual disability or that require similar treatment. It does not include disabling conditions solely physical in nature. The condition must start before age 18, be likely to continue indefinitely, and be a “substantial disability.” The regional centers have to use this definition.

The federal definition of a DD is broader and does not require a specific diagnosis. The regional centers do not use this definition. Under federal law a DD must:

  • start before age 22,
  • be severe, chronic, and likely to continue indefinitely, and
  • cause serious limitations in at least three areas of major life activity:
    • Communication (receptive and expressive language),
    • Learning,
    • Self-care,
    • Mobility,
    • Self-direction,
    • Independent living, and
    • Economic self-sufficiency.

Under the federal definition, children age 0–9 are also considered to have a DD if they have a condition that will probably cause a DD if they do not get services.

DDS (Department of Developmental Services)

DDS is the state department responsible for implementing and administering the system of services under the Lanterman Act. DDS must make sure your living situation, services, and supports are in the least restrictive, most integrated setting.

DDS is in charge of California’s developmental disabilities services program, including California’s state-operated facilities and community-based services for Californians with developmental disabilities. DDS contracts with the regional centers to coordinate and make sure you get your services and supports.

DHCS (Department of Health Care Services)

DHCS is the state agency responsible for California’s Medicaid program, called Medi-Cal. DHCS works with DDS on the Developmental Disabilities Home- and Community-Based Services Developmental Disability Waiver and other waivers.

DHCS licenses all Intermediate Care facilities: ICF-DDs, ICF-DD/Hs, ICF-DD/Ns and ICF-DD/CNs. DHCS also licenses and monitors nursing facilities.

DHCS also has the Mental Health Services Division (MHSD). MHSD administers several mental health programs for Children and Youth, Adults and Older Adults. The Mental Health Licensing (MHL) Section of DHCS licenses and oversees mental health programs statewide.

Disability Rights California

Disability Rights California is California’s protection and advocacy system. It is a nonprofit agency that works with people with disabilities. Disability Rights California advocates, educates, investigates, and litigates to advance the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, and choices for all people with disabilities. Disability Rights California changed its name from Protection & Advocacy, Inc. in 2008.

Disability Rights California has been protecting the rights of Californians with disabilities since 1978. Disability Rights California operates under federal and state law to protect the rights of people with disabilities. The Office of Clients’ Advocacy (OCRA) is Disability Rights California’s office that hires and places advocates to serve regional center consumers around the state.

DOF (Department of Finance)

DOF is the state department in charge of all state agency budgets. DOF can approve, revise, or change any State agency budget before giving the agency their money. DOF also approves budget increases and is responsible for any regulation with a financial impact.

DOR (Department of Rehabilitation)

DOR is the state department responsible for vocational rehabilitation services. These services help you get and keep competitive employment. DOR also provides short-term supported work services and other supports.

DSM-5 (Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition)

This manual has descriptions and symptoms of “mental disorders,” including intellectual disability, autism, and psychiatric conditions.

DSS (Department of Social Services)

DSS is the state department responsible for California’s Child Welfare and Foster Care system, Welfare-to-Work programs, Disabled and Adult programs, licensed community care facilities, and other programs. The DSS Community Care Licensing (CCL) Division licenses and monitors residential and day programs that serve people with DD.

Dual Diagnosis

You have a dual diagnosis if you have a developmental disability and psychiatric disability.

Emergency and Crisis Services

Emergency and crisis services protect you from immediate danger to your physical or mental health or safety, to help you stay in your living situation. Your regional center provides or purchases these services. They must first provide crisis services without disrupting your living arrangement. If that doesn’t work, they must try emergency housing in your home community. If that doesn’t work, the regional center must help you get back to where you want to live, with all needed supports, as soon as possible. See WIC sec. 4648(a)(10).


Epilepsy is a neurological condition that makes people susceptible to seizures. A seizure is a change in sensation, awareness, or behavior brought about by a brief electrical disturbance in the brain. Seizures vary in intensity. Some cause moments of sensory disruption. Others cause short periods of unconsciousness, staring spells, and convulsions. For more information see Chapter 2.


Facilitation includes modified or adapted materials, special instructions, equipment, or personal assistance that lets you understand and help make decisions about your life.

Fair Hearing

This is an administrative hearing before a judge. At a fair hearing, you and the regional center each present evidence and tell your side of the disagreement. The judge will make a decision based on the Lanterman Act.

Family Support Services

Family Support Services are services to help a family live together and care for their child or children with DD.

FFA (Foster Family Agency)

FFA home placement is similar to traditional foster care. The difference is the FFA certifies, trains and supports a foster family. FFA helps a foster family take care of a child with special needs because of a DD. FFAs is licensed by DSS.

FHA (Family Home Agency)

A FHA is a private nonprofit agency and regional center vendor that:

  • Recruits, approves, trains, and monitors family home providers;
  • Provides services and supports to family home providers; and
  • Helps you move into or out of a family home.

Fifth Category

The fifth category is really two categories. It refers to a condition that (1) is closely related to intellectual disability or (2) needs similar treatment. To be eligible for regional center services under the fifth category, you must prove that either:

  • You have a condition “closely related” to intellectual disability, or
  • You require treatment “similar to” treatment for intellectual disability.


Forensic is when a person has had some involvement with the criminal justice system.

Foster Family Home

In the regional center system, a foster family home is a family that gets special training and ongoing help to provide a home and support for a child.

Generic Service

A generic service is a service from an agency that serves the general public and gets public funds. A regional center must try to get the services you need from a generic agency before purchasing them. But, your regional center can purchase services while helping you get generic services.

Group Home

A group home usually means any small group living facility for people of any age with DD. Legally, a “group home” is a community care licensed home with up to 6 adults. Other small group living arrangements have other legal names.

HCBS (Home- and Community-Based Services) Waiver

The HCBS waiver is federal Medicaid funding to help states pay for community- based services, like supported living and supported employment. California has a specific waiver for people with developmental disabilities (the DD Waiver) and some other waivers that people with DD may be eligible for. In California, if you are eligible, you have the right to be told about HCBS Waivers and the services covered.

Some consumers are on the waiver and some are not. It should not affect your services. If you are on the waiver, you must have an IPP meeting every year. DHCS may review and change a fair hearing decision that affects your waiver services.

ICFs (Intermediate Care Facilities)

These are residential health facilities for people with DDs. There are different kinds and different sized facilities, including: ICF-DD, ICF-DD-H, ICF-DD/Ns and ICF-DD/CN. They are all licensed and monitored by DHCS.

The term ICF-MR (Intermediate Care Facility-Mentally Retarded) is used by federal agencies to refer to all ICFs.

See Chapter 7 for more details.

IDT (Interdisciplinary Team)

Your IDT is the group of people who meet to prepare your IPP. The term is used mostly in restrictive settings where many professionals attend meetings. In the law, the term “IDT” has been replaced by the term “planning team.” See WIC sec. 4512(j). Some regional centers use IDTs for special meetings with you when different types of professionals come together.

IEP (Individual Education Plan)

An IEP is a written plan for your education. Your IEP is developed at an IEP meeting by your planning team. Your team must include: you, your parent(s), a special education teacher, a regular education teacher (if appropriate), and a district representative or school administrator.

Learn more about IEPs from Disability Rights California’s Special Education Rights and Responsibilities at:

IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan)

An IFSP is a written plan about early intervention services for eligible babies or toddlers and their families.

Learn more about IFSPs from Chapter 12 of Disability Rights California’s Special Education Rights and Responsibilities at:

IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services)

IHSS is a community-based program that pays providers to support and care for people with disabilities so they can live independently in their communities.

For more on IHSS, see Disability Rights California’s IHSS publications:

ILS (Independent Living Services)

ILS provides two types of services. ILS training helps you learn the skills you need to live independently, such as cooking, cleaning, grooming, and money management. You can also get ongoing ILS services if you have basic self-help skills but need ongoing help to keep your living arrangement.


See Community Integration above.

Intellectual Disability

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, says a person with an intellectual disability has both:

  • Problems with intellectual functioning (reasoning, problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning, and learning from experience). Intellectual functioning is often measured by IQ tests which give scores. Intellectual disability is usually no higher than the range of 65 to 75 points.
  • Problems with adaptive functioning that cause a failure to meet developmental and socio-cultural standards for personal independence and social responsibility. Without support, problems will limit functioning in one or more activities of daily life (communication, social participation, and independent living, in many settings, such as home, work, school, and community).

These problems with functioning must exist during the developmental period of life, which means during childhood or teenage years. Under the Lanterman Act, a person must have these problems before age 18. For more information on Intellectual Disability, see Chapter 2.

IPC (Individual Program Coordinator)

An IPC is the person who works at the Developmental Center and coordinates your IPP.

IPP (Individual Program Plan)

An IPP is a written plan developed by your planning team at a meeting. Your IPP reflects the agreed-upon goals and objectives and identifies the services and supports you want and need to achieve your goals. The regional center must make sure you receive the services listed in your IPP.

For more information on IPPs, see Chapter 4.

Lanterman Act (Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act)

The Lanterman Act is the name of the law in California that gives people with developmental disabilities the right to get necessary services and supports in the least restrictive, most integrated setting. This law established the regional center system and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities. The Lanterman Act is found at Welfare and Institutions (W&I) Code sections 4500 and following.

Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are a group of disabilities that make it hard to learn new academic skills. A person with a learning disability may not perform some skills as well as would be expected give his or her intelligence. For example, dyslexia makes reading difficult, which in turn makes it hard to learn from reading.

A legal guardian is an adult who is given the legal authority by a court to take care of a child under 18 and/or the child’s property.

A guardian of the person is legally responsible for the child’s physical, medical, and educational needs.

A guardian of the estate is legally responsible for the child’s property.

LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)

LRE is a federal and state legal requirement that says you have the right to get services in the most integrated and inclusive setting, no matter the level of your disability. This is so you can have the most independent, productive, and normal life possible.


If you and another person (or organization) do not agree about your services and supports, you can meet with them and a mediator to try and find a solution. This meeting is called mediation. The mediator is the person who helps you and the other side agree. Mediation is optional in the regional center appeal process, but can be useful and faster than going to a hearing.


Medi-Cal provides health care services for people who are low-income or who have disabilities. The federal government and the state pay for Medi-Cal.


Medicare is a health insurance program for people who qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Retirement payments and their dependents.

Mobility Training

Mobility training helps you use the most independent transportation possible.

Natural Supports

Natural supports are family and community connections and relationships that help you enhance or keep your quality and security of life.

OAH (Office of Administrative Hearings)

OAH performs the hearing when you have a disagreement with the regional center and you appeal. OAH has Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) who hear the cases and make decisions based on the Lanterman Act.

OCRA (Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy)

OCRA is the DRC office that hires Clients’ Rights Advocates (CRA for short) for the consumers of all 21 regional centers.

People First

People First is a self-advocacy organization of people with developmental disabilities. In California, there is a statewide People First organization and local chapters most areas.

Person-Centered Planning

Your IPP process must be person-centered, which means it must focus on you and your choices, preferences, and needs. Person-centered planning is a way to work toward the future you want for yourself.

Planning Team

Your planning team is the group that helps you develop your IPP. Your planning team includes: you, your parents or legally appointed guardian (if you are a minor), your legally appointed conservator (if you are an adult and have a conservatorship), one or more regional center representative (including the designated regional center service coordinator), and anyone you invite (including a service provider).

POS (Purchase of Service) Funds

Regional centers use POS funds to purchase services for consumers from vendors. Each regional center has a contract with DDS that includes POS funds.

POS (Purchase of Service) Policies

POS policies are guidelines created by a regional center about the kinds and amounts of services it will approve at your IPP meeting. POS policies often set eligibility requirements and amounts for certain supports and services. POS policies with firm limits that violate your legal right to services are illegal. You have a right to services that are planned to meet your needs. All POS policies must have an exception clause so your services can be decided at your IPP meeting to fit your needs.


A psychiatrist is a licensed medical doctor with special training and experience in ongoing mental health disorders.


A psychologist is a licensed doctoral-level professional with mental health training and experience.

RCs (Regional Centers)

RCs are private nonprofit community agencies that provide evaluations, coordinate services, and purchase services for you and your family. A California law, called the Lanterman Act, requires that regional centers be set up across the state. Regional centers are under contract with DDS.

There are 21 RCs in California:

ACRC        Alta California Regional Center

CVRC        Central Valley Regional Center

ELARC      Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center

FNRC        Far Northern Regional Center

FDLRC      Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center

GGRC        Golden Gate Regional Center

HRC           Harbor Regional Center

IRC            Inland Regional Center

KRC           Kern Regional Center

NBRC        North Bay Regional Center

NLACRC    North Los Angeles County Regional Center

RCRC        Redwood Coast Regional Center

RCEB        Regional Center of the East Bay

RCOC        Regional Center of Orange County

SARC        San Andreas Regional Center

SDRC        San Diego Regional Center

SGPRC      San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center

SCLARC    South Central Los Angeles Regional Center

TCRC        Tri-Counties Regional Center

VMRC        Valley Mountain Regional Center

WRC          Westside Regional Center


Regulations are a set of rules and guidelines set up and enforced by a government agency to carry out the meaning and definition of certain laws.


A release gives permission to see and copy documents and records. The RC needs to see certain documents and medical, psychological, and academic records when they assess you. These records are confidential. You (or your parent, conservator, or legal guardian) must sign a release to give the regional center permission to see and copy your records.

Respite Care

Respite care is when someone provides you with occasional or regularly scheduled temporary non-medical care and supervision to:

  • Help family members keep you at home;
  • Provide you with care and supervision when your family is not there;
  • Give family members a break from taking care you; and
  • Provide your basic self-help needs and other daily activities, including interaction, socialization, and daily routines usually done by your family.

RRDP (Regional Resource Development Project)

Regional Resource Development Projects are part of the Department of Developmental Services. RRDPs:

  • Help you move from a restrictive setting like a DC to the community.
  • Assess you for more supports that can help you keep living in the community.
  • Arrange for and assess you if you need acute crisis services.
  • Give training to consumers, families, service providers, and regional center staff.
  • Communicate with the regional centers about developing the annual Community Placement Plan.

See Chapter 8 for more information.

SCDD (State Council on Developmental Disabilities)

The SCDD is an independent state agency that helps plan, coordinate, monitor, and evaluate services for you and your family. Federal law says SCDD must suggest ways to improve and increase services. SCDD puts their suggestions into a State Plan and submits the Plan to the federal government.

Under state law, SCDD must study how people with developmental disabilities get their services. If there are gaps in service, SCDD will recommend to DDS how to get the needed services. SCDD also uses federal money to make grants for developing new services or for self- advocacy projects. SCDD offices used to be called Area Boards. The staff in SCDD offices can give help and trainings to you. 


Self-advocacy means representing and communicating your own interests, making your own choices, and controlling your environment.

Sensory Loss

This refers to losing one or more of your 5 senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, or smell).

Service Coordination or Case Management

This refers to the regional center’s responsibility to actively assist you in program planning and finding and getting necessary services. Your service coordinator is the person responsible for service coordination or case management. Usually, your service coordinator is a regional center employee. A service coordinator could also be called a case manager, social worker, or CPC.


Self-determination means you have a right to make choices about your own life, to have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else, and to speak and advocate for yourself.

Self-Determination Program (SDP)

California’s Self-Determination Program (SDP) is a way to get regional center services. In the SDP, consumers and their families have more freedom, control, and responsibility in choosing services and supports to help them meet objectives in their Individual Program Plan (IPP). It gives you a budget to buy your services in the way you want. Self-Determination is now available to all eligible regional center consumers. See Chapter 3 for more information.

SLA (Supported Living Arrangement)

SLA refers to your supported living services plus any other supports, such as a day program.

SLS (Supported Living Services)

SLS helps you live in a house or apartment you own or rent. SLS can be available as often and for as long as you need it. You can get a variety of services and supports to help you live in your own home, including social, behavioral, and daily living skills training and support, assistance in finding, modifying and maintaining a home, paid neighbors and paid roommates. SLS is aimed at helping you live a normal life, and be included in your community. SLS addresses the “big picture” of your life.

SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility)

A skilled nursing facility provides extended skilled nursing care.

Social Security

Social Security is a federal program started in 1935. It includes disability insurance programs, retirement, and SSI.

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)

SSI is a Social Security Administration program that provides a monthly money benefit to people (or their children, disabled adult children, or spouses) who have worked and paid into the Social Security fund and become disabled. It also comes with Medicare once you have been on this benefit for 24 months in a row.

SSI (Supplemental Security Income)

SSI is a Social Security Administration program for low-income people who have disabilities or are over 65. SSI provides cash for basic food and shelter.

Stakeholder Organizations

These statewide organizations represent the interests of consumers, family members, service providers, and statewide advocacy organizations.


A statute is a law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. The Lanterman Act is a set of statutes about the services and rights guaranteed to people with developmental disabilities.

Substantial Disability

Department of Developmental Services regulations define a substantial disability as “a major impairment of cognitive and/or social functioning.” This means you are substantially disabled by a major impairment of either:

  • Your cognitive functioning (your thinking, your intellect), or
  • Your social functioning (how you relate to others).

You do not have to prove both. But, you have to show major problems in at least three of these areas:

  • Communication skills (receptive and expressive language)
  • Learning
  • Self-care
  • Mobility
  • Self-direction
  • Independent living
  • Economic self-sufficiency

According to the law, substantially disabling conditions require “interdisciplinary planning” and the “coordination of services” to help you “reach your maximum potential.”

To be eligible for regional center services, not only must you have a diagnosis or condition that fits one of the five categories of eligibility, but that diagnosis or condition must constitute a “substantial disability” for you.

For more information, see Chapter 2.


A vendor is a person or agency approved and paid by a regional center to provide services.


This means the regional center has made sure a vendor meets all of the requirements to provide services. The regional center gives each vendor an ID number, service code, and subcode so the vendor can get paid for the services provided.


A voucher is a coupon or other written authorization for a service, such as respite or day care. The regional center can give a voucher to you or your family. You choose your own service provider and pay with the voucher.

WIC (Welfare and Institutions Code)

WIC is the area of California law that includes the Lanterman Act.