Self-Determination Frequently Asked Questions

Are children under three years of age eligible to participate in the Self-Determination Program?

Some children under three years of age may participate in Self-Determination.  To be eligible for Self-Determination, the child must qualify to receive regional center services under Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 4512.

Children under three years old who receive services through the Early Start program because they are at risk of having a developmental disability or have developmental delays and have not qualified to receive regional center services under WIC 4512 are not eligible to participate in Self-Determination.

What are the Terms and Conditions I need to agree to in order to start Self-Determination?

Each person who enrolls in Self-Determination agrees to follow specific terms and conditions that are similar to the ones Service Coordinators agree to follow for people who receive traditional services.  To participate in Self-Determination you would agree to:

  • Participate in an orientation for the Self-Determination Program.
  • Work with a Financial Management Service (FMS) entity to coordinate and monitor your yearly spending plan, and facilitate payment for services identified in your spending plan.
  • Be responsible for developing and following an individual spending plan. People in Self-Determination will receive any support they may need with this, in whatever way best works for them and by whomever they choose, through their circle of support.  This could include an Independent Facilitator, family member, friend, or trusted community member.
  • Only use the individual spending plan to pay for services that are eligible for federal financial participation AND not available from a generic agency. People in Self-Determination can work with their circle of support and FMS to determine if a service is allowable.

How will I know how much money I have in my budget?

Your annual individual budget amount is based on the services you need and were authorized to use in traditional services the prior calendar year.  If you have a service need identified in your IPP but have not been able to find someone to provide that service, your budget will include the cost of the support that was needed, not how much support you actually received.   With the help of your planning team, RCRC will generate a report that gives the exact dollar amount for services currently authorized in your IPP, and use those numbers to calculate your Self-Determination budget amount.

If there are service needs that have not yet been identified or your circumstances have changed, you can adjust your budget with your planning team.  If you have never received any supports funded through RCRC, your team will develop the annual individual budget based on your projected service needs and the average rate for the identified services.  You will get a Budget Calculation Tool from your Service Coordinator to review and if you agree with it, you and your Service Coordinator will sign it.

Every year your budget will be reviewed and recalculated to adjust for any changes to circumstances, resources, and/or needs.

What is an Independent Facilitator (IF)?

An Independent Facilitator (IF) is someone that you can choose to support you in Self-Determination.  You are not required to use an IF, however an IF can provide helpful support to you, such as:

  • Helping you understand important information and your options in Self-Determination so you can make confident and informed choices.
  • Supporting you through the person-centered process and making connections with identified service and support providers.
  • Helping you identify what immediate and long term service needs you might have, and help you meet those needs.
  • Locating, accessing, and coordinating services and supports that fit your individual plan.

An IF is not required to have certification or licensure, but they are required to receive training in principals of Self-Determination, the person-centered planning process, and the additional responsibilities related to developing a plan.  A person cannot provide regional center funded services to you if they are also your IF.

What is Person-Centered Planning?

Everyone who participates in Self-Determination must have a plan developed through a person-centered-planning process.  Person-Centered planning is a way to approach, plan for, and work towards the preferred future of a person served by the regional center, and their families.  The process should be directed by the person whose plan it is, and they should be involved in all aspects of the planning discussion.  Person-Centered planning can, and is encouraged to, include a person’s circle of support.  Person-Centered planning is a framework for planning and making decisions, it is not a collection of methods or procedures.  It is based on an awareness of, and sensitivity to, the lifestyle and cultural background of the person and their family.

What is a Financial Management Service (FMS)?

Everyone who participates in Self-Determination is required to use a Financial Management Service (FMS).  FMS agencies help people manage their budget and spending plan, but they do not control the budget or spending plan.  The FMS ensures that payments are made on time for the services that you are using.  Your FMS will also monitor your funds to ensure that you have sufficient funds to support your needed services.  They will provide you with monthly reports. An FMS can also support you to:

  • Hire employees, verify provider qualifications, and get criminal background checks completed if necessary.
  • Follow all employment laws and tax requirements.

How will I know what services I’m allowed to pay for?

This will be part of the discussion during the planning process.  There are guidelines set by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has outlined what types of services are allowed to be paid with Self-Determination funds.  A service needs to be directly related to a goal in your person-centered IPP, and your service coordinator, IF, and/or Participant Choice Manager (defined below) will be able to support you. If you are currently receiving services through RCRC outside of Self-Determination, those services would still be available to you once you are enrolled in Self-Determination and could be paid for with Self-Determination funds if you choose to continue using those services.

Are there supports available to help with enrollment and planning?

Supports are being developed with community agencies and individuals to support people interested in enrolling in Self-Determination.  Beginning August 1, 2022, and effective as of February 1, 2023 people entering into Self-Determination will have the option to pay for Pre-Enrollment Transition Supports outside of their budget.  For more information about what specific supports may be available to you, contact your Service Coordinator or Participant Choice Manager.

What is a Participant Choice Manager?

RCRC’s Participant Choice Managers are here to support anyone who is interested in, or already participating in Self-Determination.  Participant Choice Managers provide support to people enrolled and interested in Self-Determination, training on Self-Determination and person-centered practices, community outreach, and also facilitate communication between different members of a person’s support team when and if needed.  There are two Participant Choice Managers at RCRC, one located in the Eureka office primarily supporting Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, and one located in the Ukiah office primarily supporting Mendocino and Lake Counties.

How do I enroll in Self-Determination?

Self-Determination is open to all eligible people on a voluntary basis.  If you are interested in entering into Self-Determination let your Service Coordinator know that you are interested in starting the process and they can facilitate your next steps.  You can also contact one of the Participant Choice Managers to express interest in participating in the program. The first step will be to participate in Self-Determination orientation, and then give your certificate of completion to your Service Coordinator or Participant Choice Manager.  You may also participate in the orientation and then decide not to join Self-Determination.  You can register for an orientation here:

Orientations are currently available in English and Spanish, however additional languages will be made available in the future.  Please contact a Participant Choice Manager if you have barriers in participating in a scheduled orientation.

Participant Choice Managers:

Alex Chesstell

Eureka Office (Humboldt and Del Norte Counties)

(707)445-0893 ext 317

Sheila Keys

Ukiah Office (Mendocino and Lake Counties)

(707)462-3832 ext 254

Other Resources:

Department of Developmental Services (DDS)

State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD)

Disability Voices United