California Self-Determination Programs and Your Child

A Support Program Built Around the Individual

An SDP, or “Self-Determination Program,” can be of immeasurable benefit to people with special needs. It is a voluntary alternative to traditional service, allowing for more control in the services and supports needed for the individual. The participants in the program (or their parents), are given a budget they can use to purchase what they believe will most benefit their child or special needs adult. These programs became available to all regional center consumers in 2021.

The Five Principles of an SDP Program

The principles of SDP programs are outlined in California law. These programs are geared to provide individuals and their families more freedom, control, and responsibility in the services they choose, and the support they need to reach the objectives of their Individual Program Plan (IPP).

All SDPs must be built on the five principles of the program:

  1. Freedom: Participants are provided the freedom to make their own decisions, plan their lives, and choose your own support.
  2. Authority: You have the authority to spend your SDP budget as you see fit.
  3. Support: You choose what you need to reach your personal goals, hire support staff, and make decisions that allow you to have the lift you envision for yourself.
  4. Responsibility: You are fully responsible for your SDP budget, and accountable for the expenditures on your behalf.
  5. Confirmation: You and your family have the ability to make the decisions that matter to your life’s journey and choose the range of support and services that are geared to achieve the goals of your IPP.

How Is an SDP Different?

An SDP is a person-focused approach to support and care, far different from the current service coordination process. These programs provide the individual with the decision making power that can significantly improve quality of life, rather than traditional programs that did not offer participants the right to make their own choices about the services and support they want.

Who Is Eligible for an SDP?

To qualify for SDP, the individual must have a qualifying disability, and has been the recipient of at least one qualifying service from a local regional center, which was used at least one time a year. The participant must agree to specific terms and conditions. Those who live in licensed long-term care facilities are not eligible but may become eligible with the help of a regional center if able to transition within 90 days. The services purchased through the SDP must implement the IPP, and funds are managed with the help of a Financial Management Service Provider.

What Are the Qualifying Disabilities for an SDP?

The California SDP allows people with certain disabilities, and their families, to personally control their support. People with autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, and other developmental disabilities, and their families, can gain personalized control and greater flexibility in choosing the support and services they need.

How Do I Enroll?

You can voluntarily enroll in the SDP. You will first be required to attend an orientation. If you wish to transition to one of these person-centered programs, your regional center coordinator can guide you, or you can get help from the lawyers at Woodsmall Law Group, where we provide sophisticated representation in all matters related to fair access rights for people with special needs.

Contact Woodsmall Law Group at (626) 440-0028 for a compassionate special needs attorney. Our law firm serves children and their parents in Los Angeles County, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley.

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