Rights Under the Lanterman Act

Protecting the Rights of the Disabled in Los Angeles

The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as the Lanterman Act, is a California law passed in 1977 that guarantees and promotes the Constitutional rights of disabled children and adults. The Lanterman Act requires that the State of California provide sufficient support services to allow disabled individuals to live full lives and reach their maximum potential, and most notably, to provide services for children affected by severe disability.

If your child or a loved one is not receiving the services and rights guaranteed by the Lanterman Act, our attorneys at Woodsmall Law Group are here to help. Our passion is helping families and children get the services they deserve and protect their rights, with no compromises.

What Rights Does My Child Have Under the Lanterman Act?

The Lanterman Act guarantees that people with developmental disabilities have the same rights guaranteed by the US Constitution and the laws of California. Developmentally disabled people are further guaranteed the right to participate in and receive the benefits of any activity that receives public funding without being subjected to discrimination. Specific rights laid out by the law include, but are not limited to:

  • A right to treatment and rehabilitation services and supports in the least restrictive environment.  Treatment and rehabilitation services and supports should foster the developmental potential of the person, and be directed toward the achievement of the most independent, productive, and normal lives possible. Such services shall protect the personal liberty of the individual and shall be provided with the least restrictive conditions necessary to achieve the purposes of the treatment, services, or supports.
  • A right to dignity, privacy, and humane care. To the maximum extent possible, treatment, services, and supports shall be provided in natural community settings.
  • A right to participate in an appropriate program of publicly supported education, regardless of the degree of disability.
  • A right to prompt medical care and treatment.
  • A right to religious freedom and practice.
  • A right to social interaction and participation in community activities.
  • A right to physical exercise and recreational opportunities.
  • A right to be free from harm, including unnecessary physical restraint, or isolation, excessive medication, abuse, or neglect.
  • A right to be free from hazardous procedures.
  • A right to make choices in their own lives, including, but not limited to, where and with whom they live, their relationships with people in their community, the way they spend their time, including education, employment, and leisure, the pursuit of their personal future, and program planning and implementation.
  • A right to a prompt investigation of any alleged abuse against them.

The law requires the State of California to provide regional centers throughout the state to assist those who are disabled, to creating tailor-made plans for each person, and to assist in providing all needed services. Under the Lanterman Act, the state is required to pay for part of all of the services necessary to guarantee the rights of disabled individuals, depending on the income level and ability to pay of the individual and their family.

Who Qualifies for Assistance Under the Lanterman Act?

There are three categories of people who are eligible for services and care under the Lanterman Act:

  1. Those who meet the criteria laid out in the Lanterman Act to be classified as developmentally disabled
  2. Pregnant women who have a high risk of giving birth to a disabled child
  3. Babies and children three years or younger who have a high risk of becoming developmentally disabled.

To qualify as developmentally disabled, you must have a condition (such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or others) that significantly limits you in three or more of the seven primary areas of life activity:

  • Self-care
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Mobility
  • Self-direction
  • The ability to learn independently
  • The ability to earn sufficiently to support yourself

To qualify for services under the Lanterman Act, you must go to your nearest regional center, where an evaluation will be performed to review your candidacy for assistance. Assuming the assessment determines your child or loved one qualifies for help, you will be assigned a coordinator, and a comprehensive individual plan will be put together and implemented.

What Do I Do if I’m Not Getting the Help I Need?

If you feel your child was incorrectly denied assistance under the Lanterman Act, or that the services provided are falling short and you aren’t getting the help you need, you DO have legal recourse. At Woodsmall Law Group, we have intimate knowledge of the Lanterman Act and all relevant processes to get children the help they deserve. Our team is dedicated to protecting the rights of disabled children, adults, and their families, and we have the expertise and experience to make it happen. We offer a free consultation, so call us today at (626) 440-0028 and let us help.

Additional Information