Self Determination

A man with a disability skydiving, strapped to an instructor
Orange pie chart with text below that states "50% of adults served by regional centers who did not choose the agency that provides them services"
Blue pie chart stating "91% of adults served by regional centers who did not choose the staff who help them every day"
Orange pie chart stating "67% of adults served by regional centers did not choose who they live with"
Blue pie chart with text stating "46% of adults served by regional centers who do not choose where they go during the day"

Self-Determination Program Call

Check out this week’s SDP Connect topic on our Events page. >>

SDP Connect is a weekly information-sharing Zoom meeting for Self-Determination Program (SDP) participants from everywhere in California, family members, independent facilitators, FMSs, regional center staff, service providers, and anyone else who is interested in moving the SDP forward!

Each meeting will last only one hour. The first 15-30 minutes will be a presentation on a different topic followed by questions and answers from attendees at the meeting. We will stop each meeting after one hour but we will be back the following week to provide more assistance.

Watch past SDP Connect calls. >>

Choice And Control Over Our Lives

The current system requires us to ask: “Who is in charge?” Federal and state laws mandate choice and control by individuals with developmental disabilities over their lives and the services, supports and education they receive. Despite the requirements of the “I” (meaning Individual) in IEP and IPP, programs and classrooms are often one-size fits-all and lack any person-centeredness.

Professionals – regional centers and school districts — usually choose the service providers and teachers. The classrooms and providers are often chosen based on the professionals’ preferences or relationships, convenience, and cost – not on what the individual and their family believes is appropriate. In many cases, the individual and their family are not told what options exist or are given limited choices. They are sometimes denied critically needed services.

Many individuals with disabilities don’t have essential control over their everyday lives. They don’t even get to decide who supports them, where they go, whom they live and spend time with, and even what they eat. This lack of control often leads to poorer outcomes, unhappier lives, and a feeling of helplessness.

Even though laws mandate choice and control by the individual and family, there is little accountability over whether this is happening. Services providers are often beholden to the regional centers who fund them and not to the people they serve. Teachers often feel more accountable to the administrators than to their students.  

Our goals and actions: To ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families have more choice and control, we will focus our energies on the following areas:

  • Monitor implementation of and advocate for the Self-Determination Program statewide and at every regional center. Many of the board members of Disability Voices United were leaders in getting the self-determination law passed and are critical players in bringing the law to reality
  • Advocate for authentic person-centered planning at regional centers and school districts
  • Ensure individuals and families are provided choice of classrooms, services and providers
  • Push for release of names of all providers to be made available to families, regardless of where they are vendored
  • Hold regional centers and school districts accountable for providing choice and options of classrooms and services, as mandated by law. Encourage administrative and legislative oversight
  • Empower individuals and families through advocacy training about their rights to choice and control
  • Advocate for restoration of social and recreational program options
The authors and sponsors of the Self Determination Bill stand around Governor Jerry Brown while he signs the bill at his desk, all smiling

Signing of Senate Bill 468, the Self-Determination Law by Governor Jerry Brown, October 2013. In attendance are the individuals who wrote and fought hard to pass the law (from left to right, with affiliation at the time): Harvey Lapin (parent, Autism Society of LA), Mike Clark (parent, Kern Regional Center), Mark Polit (parent, State Council on Developmental Disabilities), Judy Mark (parent, Autism Society of LA), Connie Lapin (parent, Autism Society of LA), April Lopez (parent, State Council on Developmental Disabilities), Catherine Blakemore (Disability Rights California), Evelyn Abouhassan (Disability Rights California), Teresa Trujillo (Legislative Director for Sen. Emmerson), Senator Bill Emmerson (lead author of the law)

Blue logo with a text box and text that says "The Self-Determination Interchange"

The Self-Determination Interchange

The Self-Determination Interchange is a website for participants in the California Self-Determination Program, as well as family members, advocates, independent facilitators, and anyone else interested in the program. The Interchange hosts resources on the program, reminders about advocacy opportunities, and a forum where community members can ask and answer questions.

Visit the Self-Determination Interchange >>

Logo for the Self-Determination Conference that states: "Taking Charge: Making Self-Determination Work for Us"

Breaking Through Barriers: Advancing Self-Determination

On November 3, 2022, Disability Voices United sponsored a large conference on self-determination that included over 500 attendees. This conference was unique, because it focused on both the barriers experienced by people in the Self-Determination Program, but on practical, systemic solutions to surmount those barriers.

Conference Program >>

Opening Remarks & Opening Panel >>