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Letter from Board President Larry DeBoer About Sustaining the Entitlement

Lanterman Offers Solutions for Sustaining the Entitlement in Light of Expected Major Budget Reductions Affecting California’s Health and Human Services Programs

photo of Larry DeBoer Dear Lanterman Community,
In his inaugural address, Governor Brown warned that “painful” budget cuts will be required to close the estimated $25 to $28 billion shortfall projected for the state budget this year. We feel a greater sense of urgency than ever before knowing that California is facing years of reduced budgets and sweeping cuts to health and human services, education and other critical programs, including developmental services.

In the face of this worsening crisis, we have revised and reaffirmed our white paper, “Sustaining the Entitlement for the Developmental Services System: A Regional Center Perspective.” The original version of this paper was published in 2003 by Lanterman Regional Center’s board of directors. It has been updated several times and the current version was approved by the Lanterman board in December 2010. The paper looks closely at the Lanterman Act and the political, social and economic factors that have affected its evolution since it was passed in 1969. It includes a set of definitive recommendations for changes to the entitlement program described by the Act that are intended to help ensure that it will be there for future generations.

We are distributing this paper widely to individuals and organizations both within and outside of the developmental services system. For example, we will send it to Governor Brown and individuals in his administration, to members and selected staff of the California Legislature, to the board of the Association of Regional Center Agencies (ARCA) and to disability and advocacy organizations such as the State Council on Developmental Disabilities and Disability Rights California.

Lanterman Regional Center has always tried to be part of the solution and provide leadership in dealing with challenges to the developmental services system. For example, in response to the severe financial challenges in the early 90s, and with the support of our community, we implemented changes that helped us live within limited budgets while promoting fairness and equity for clients and families. Some of the changes we implemented at that time continue to serve us well today, and we believe that they would provide the same benefits if implemented throughout the State. In fact, some of these changes were included as recommendations in previous versions of this paper and were adopted by the State to be implemented across all regional centers. The Budget Trailer Bill of 2009 included a number of the changes that we have endorsed over the years.

Rather than becoming involved in trying to find solutions to the State’s continuing budget crises, some individuals and organizations associated with developmental services continue to publicly resist any cuts to regional center budgets. Given the severe economic crises that we will certainly be facing well into the future, it should be clear to all that such a strategy is futile. We are more convinced than ever that we must all come together – regional centers, clients, families, providers, advocates and policy-makers – to set principles and priorities that will ensure that the critical services will always be available to people with developmental disabilities.

While we realize that not everyone will agree with all of our recommendations, if we fail to seize this opportunity, we fear ever greater restrictions on eligibility, long waiting lists for service, continued stagnation and reduction of rates paid to service providers, greatly diminished service quality and, finally, the death of the entitlement. With the continuing support of our community, we will keep on working toward solutions that will help preserve the entitlement for current and future generations.

We welcome your comments and encourage you to share them with us. Please submit them via e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Larry DeBoer
President, Lanterman Board of Directors

Read “Sustaining the Entitlement for the Developmental Services System: A Regional Center Perspective” (PDF, 217KB)