The State of California has identified specific criteria as defined in the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act that determines whether or not a person is eligible for Regional Center services. Being solely diagnosed with a developmental disability is not enough to qualify.
The following eligibility criteria are summarized from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) website.
Eligibility Criteria – Birth to Age 3
Infants and toddlers (age 0 to 36 months) who are at risk of having developmental disabilities or who have a developmental delay may qualify for services. The criteria for determining the eligibility of infants and toddlers is specified in Section 95014 of the California Government Code, as at least one of the following:
- At least a 33% developmental delay in one or more areas of either:
- social or emotional
- physical and motor development including vision and hearing
- an established risk condition of known etiology, with a high probability of delayed development
- high risk of having a substantial developmental disability due to a combination of biomedical risk factors
In addition, individuals at risk of having a child with a developmental disability may be eligible for genetic diagnosis, counseling, and other prevention services. For information about these services, see Early Start.
Eligibility Criteria – Ages 3 and Older
Regional Center eligibility criteria are defined by law, in Section 4512 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code.
Diagnoses that may qualify a person for Regional Center services include the following developmental disabilities:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Intellectual Disability
- Conditions closely related to, or that require treatment similar to, that required for an intellectual disability
In addition, to qualify for Regional Center services, a person’s developmental disability must:
- originate prior to age 18
- be expected to continue indefinitely
- be a substantial disability as defined by Title 17, Section 54001 of the California Code of Regulations, meaning the person experiences, as a result of their developmental disability, significant limitations in three or more of the following areas:
- capacity for independent living
- economic self-sufficiency
- Additional details regarding how a substantial disability is defined can be found in ARCA’s Clinical Recommendations for Defining Substantial Disability.
(This definition does not include any handicapping condition that is solely psychiatric, solely a learning disability or solely physical in nature.)
In addition to meeting eligibility criteria, to qualify for services through Redwood Coast Regional Center, the person must reside in Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, or Mendocino County. If the child lives in a county other than these four counties, you can find the child or adult’s local Regional Center using this directory.
How does a person apply for services through RCRC?
Intake Process – Birth to Age 3
In order to find out if you or your child is eligible to receive services through the Redwood Coast Regional Center, you will need to contact our Intake Department to begin the eligibility process.
To determine your child’s eligibility for Early Start (birth to age 3) Services, RCRC will conduct a comprehensive intake process including an evaluation of your child’s developmental level and a review of available medical records/history.
You will need to contact the Regional Center office located in the County which you reside; please ask for the Early Start coordinator.
Del Norte County
(707) 464-7488, Extension 411
(707) 445-0893, Extension 339
Lake and Mendocino Counties
(707) 462-3832, Extension 274
Intake Process – Ages 3 and Older
To submit a referral to our Intake and Assessment Department, please call our automated referral line for the county in which the applicant resides:
- For Del Norte and Humboldt Counties:
Extension 309 to leave a message in English.
Extension 308 to leave a message in Spanish.
- For Lake and Mendocino Counties:
Extension 259 to leave a message in English.
Extension 258 to leave a message in Spanish.
Or complete the online intake referral and submit by email or return to your local RCRC office. Link
Once your referral has been received, RCRC will mail you an intake inquiry packet. Once we receive the fully completed intake packet, an RCRC Intake Representative will reach out to you to either obtain more information to determine suspicion of aa developmental disability or schedule the initial intake interview.
Parents, guardians, conservators, or an independent adult with a developmental disability may initiate the application process. A professional, such as a pediatrician/medical doctor, or other interested parties may also initiate a referral , but only with permission from the individual or family.
The entire intake process, once the initial intake interview is scheduled, can take up to 120 days.
For assistance with completing the intake packet, please call (707) 462-3832, x238, or email Dwayne Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org for intake and assessment inquiries.
For more information on the next steps after eligibility is determined, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.