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Supplement H: How to Get Regional Center Services through Your IPP

Supplement H: How to Get Regional Center Services through Your IPP

Decisions about what services you need and want, who will provide these services, and when are made at your Individual Program Plan (IPP) meeting.  This Supplement explains:

  • How often IPP meetings take place
  • How to get an IPP meeting,
  • How to prepare for your IPP meeting, and
  • What to do if you cannot get the services you need.

When is my IPP meeting?

If you are a new regional center client, the regional center must develop your IPP within 60 days.  If you have not heard from the regional center within 2 weeks, call them.

If you already have an IPP, but are moving to a new regional center area, ask for a transition meeting with both regional centers.  Your new regional center must follow your current IPP until your next IPP meeting.  If your current IPP lists services that are not available in your new area, your new regional center must have an IPP meeting within 30 days and provide alternative services until then.

You will have an IPP meeting every year if:

  • You get services under the Medi-Cal Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver, or
  • You live in a facility licensed as an “Intermediate Care Facility” (ICF-DD, ICF-DD/H, ICF-DD/N, ICF-DD/CN).

For everyone else, your IPP meeting will take place once every three years, unless your needs change or if you ask for a meeting.

When should I ask for an IPP meeting?

Ask for an IPP meeting whenever:

  • Your needs change
  • Your achievements make you ready for something new
  • You need a new or different service
  • You need help from the regional center to get cash or services from another agency

When you ask the regional center for a service or help, you are actually asking for your IPP to be changed to include the service or help you are asking for.  If you ask for an IPP meeting, the meeting must happen within 30 days.

How do I ask for an IPP Meeting?

You can:

  • Call or write your service coordinator and ask for a meeting or to change your IPP.  If you want a service, say which service you want when you call or write.  Sometimes regional centers agree to provide or pay for a service without having an IPP meeting.  If this happens, ask the regional center to add it to your IPP and send you a copy.
  • Ask family or friends to help you write a letter requesting an IPP meeting.
  • Send the letter to the Regional Center or your Service Coordinator.

Here are examples:

Dear Regional Center:

I want to start working and earning money. I want an IPP meeting about the help I need to work.

Or:

Dear Regional Center:

I want to learn how to use the bus to get from my house to the bowling alley. I want this added to my IPP.

Or:

Dear Regional Center:

I need help because Social Security is looking at my SSI. I want my IPP to say that you will help me keep SSI.

What should I do before I go to my IPP Meeting?

  1. Know Your Goals.  Use the IPP Planners in Supplements J and K or the publications in Chapter 4 to help you think about your goals. Goals can be where you want to live and what you want to do each day. The IPP Planners will help you figure out what services and supports you need to reach your goals.
  2. Review Your Current IPP.  Think about the services and supports you get now.  Talk to family, friends, and advocates to help you fill out the planner or make your own list.  Ask yourself these questions:
  3. Do you want to keep some or all of the services you are getting now?
  4. Do you no longer need some of the services you are getting now?
  5. Do you need different services?
  6. Do you want to change who provides your services?
  7. Do you want to change where you live?
  8. Are there services from other agencies you need help from the regional center to get or keep?
  9. Tell the regional center what services you want now.

Tell the regional center what you will ask for before the meeting.  That way, the regional center can be ready to make decisions at your meeting.  Ask the regional center to have a decision-maker at your meeting.  A decision-maker is someone from the regional center who can speak for the regional center and say “yes” or “no” to decisions about your services and supports.  The law says that a decision-maker from the regional center must be at the IPP meeting where final decisions are made on services and supports.

You can use the sample letter in Supplement N to write to the regional center.  Your letter should include:

  • Your completed IPP Planner
  • A list of services you get now
  • Your last IPP with the changes you want
  • Your request for a decision maker

Here is a sample letter:

Dear Regional Center:

Here is my filled-in IPP Meeting Planner. I really want to learn to use a computer. Please ask Becky from the Day program to come to  my IPP meeting.
Please have a decision maker at my IPP meeting.

Who should I ask to be part of my IPP Planning Team?

You can invite anyone you want to be part of your IPP planning team.  Ask people who know you and who can help you to be part of your team at the meeting.  You can invite your family, someone from where you live, from your day program, from your child’s school, or anyone else to be part of this team.  Ask your regional center to invite them.  The people you invite and the people from the regional center make up your IPP team.

Tip!  Some people start “buddy” programs where they each go to the other’s IPP meeting for support and for ideas.

Can I ask for an interpreter to be at my IPP meeting?

Yes.  Communication at your IPP meeting is very important.  If you do not speak or understand English well, or if you feel more comfortable speaking a different language, ask for an interpreter.  The regional center must provide an interpreter at your IPP meeting.  They should also translate your IPP and other documents.  Supplement T shows you how to ask the regional center for an interpreter.

What does it mean to do person-centered planning in an IPP meeting?

Your IPP is all about you and your choices.  “Person-centered” means you are the most important person at the meeting.  The meeting is about your hopes, your likes and dislikes, where you need help, what services you want, and what you think are the most important services and supports to include in your IPP.  It is not about what services happen to be available or are usually provided for people like you.

The people at the meeting should work as a team to come up with ways to meet your goals and dreams.  They need to take the time to make sure you understand everything.  The team should listen to everyone’s ideas.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone to say something again or to ask questions.  Your questions will help everyone at the meeting understand your choices and needs.

How can I have the most valuable IPP meeting?

Make sure a decision-maker is present at your meeting.  Sometimes, a planning team will only “recommend funding” for services and tell you someone else will make the actual decision to add those services to your IPP or not.  The regional center may say that the POS (Purchase of Service) committee or another committee has to approve your request.  You have the right to meet with the person who can say “yes” or “no” to your request.

Unless a decision-maker is at the meeting, there is no one at the meeting who can say “yes” or “no” about what goes into your IPP.  As soon as the meeting begins, make sure that one person from the regional center is a “decision-maker” – someone who can say “yes” or “no” to a service while you are meeting with the regional center.  If a decision-maker is not present, the regional center must have a second meeting within 15 days (unless you agree to a longer time) where a decision-maker must be present.  You can still talk about the services you need or want.  But no decisions can be made.

Also ask someone to take notes on big pieces of paper put up on the walls for everyone to see.  Ask them to write down things you have agreed and disagreed on.  After the meeting, the note-taker can read the list to the team and make sure everyone agrees with what has been written.

What does a complete IPP document look like?

The IPP document must include:

  • your goals and objectives,
  • services and supports you need and want (the type and amount),
  • who will provide the services (another “generic” agency or a particular provider or type of provider), and
  • when the services will start.

If services cannot start right away because there is no available provider or you must first ask Medi-Cal or a health plan, your IPP must say:

  • what steps will be taken to get services to start,
  • who is responsible for each step,
  • the timelines for completing each step, and
  • what services will be provided in the meantime.

Will I get a copy of my IPP right after the meeting?

No, but the regional center must give you a list of agreed-upon services and supports right after the meeting.  The list can be written or electronic.  If known, the list must also include the start date, frequency and duration,  and the provider of the services and supports.

When should I sign the IPP (or a list of the agreements made) at the meeting?

The IPP you sign should list your goals and objectives, services to help you reach those goals, who will provide the services, and when the services will start.  If the regional center will not write the entire IPP at the meeting, make a handwritten list of the agreements you have made so everyone can sign the list.  Take a copy of the signed list home with you. The regional center can then type up the list on the form it uses for IPPs and send it to you.

Important: Do not sign a paper that says you agree with a Proposed Plan.

You can agree to parts of the IPP and disagree with other parts.  Only the parts of an IPP you agree to can be implemented.  If you are denied a new service you wanted and a substitute service was written into your IPP, you can disagree or you can agree temporarily.  Here are examples of what you might write for that:

I disagree with the denial of [requested service]. I agree to accept [substitute service] while I try to get the [requested service]. Please give me a notice of the denial of the [requested service] so that I can appeal.

Or:

I disagree with the denial of [requested service]. I accept the [substitute service] under protest. I believe that the [requested service] would better meet my needs, and I would like another IPP meeting within 15 days to continue to discuss adding the [requested service] to my IPP.

You can wait for the regional center’s notice of denial and file an appeal, or you can ask for another IPP meeting within 15 days to continue your conversation with the regional center.

Must the regional center give me a written notice of any denial, reduction, or termination of services?

If the regional center says “no” to a new service you ask for, they must send you a written denial notice within 5 days.  If they say they want to change or end a service you already get, the regional center must give you written notice 30 days before the change or cut-off happens.  The notice must tell you what information and law the regional center is basing their decision on, the reasons for their decision, and how you can appeal.  If the regional center wants to reduce or terminate any of the services you already get, the notice must tell you when that change will happen.

Is there anything I can do to keep the services I have while I am appealing the regional center’s decision to reduce or end them?

If you want to fight the denial and keep your current services, file your appeal within 10 days of the written notice from the regional center, and you can keep your current services during the appeal process.  This is called “aid paid pending.”  If you do not file your appeal within 10 days, it does not mean your appeal is late.  You have up to 30 days to file an appeal.  But, if you file later than 10 days after you receive the regional center’s notice, you cannot keep your current services during the appeal process.

What if the regional center never gives me a notice?  

You can appeal even if you do not get a notice.  Ask for a notice, because the notice gives you important information about why the regional center decided to deny, reduce, or terminate your services and the law the regional center is relying on to do that.  This information is very important and necessary to your appeal, so try to get this information before you go through the appeal process.  If you do not get a notice, contact your service coordinator.  If you still do not get it, you can file an administrative complaint (called a Section 4731 complaint) to force the regional center to give you an adequate of notice about their decision.