Special Education in California - Advocacy & Laws

The Lanterman Act

The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, (Welfare and Institutions Code) was passed in California in 1969. This significant state law outlines the rights and responsibilities of persons with developmental disabilities as well as created the Regional Centers as central points of contact for persons with developmental disabilities and their families.

The Lanterman Act establishes an entitlement to services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities. This entitlement means that individuals with developmental disabilities have the right to receive services and supports which enable them to make decisions and choices about how, and with whom, they want to live their lives; achieve the highest self-sufficiency possible; and lead productive, independent, and satisfying lives.

The Lanterman Act declares that persons with developmental disabilities have the same legal rights and responsibilities guaranteed to all other persons by federal and state constitutions and laws and charges the Regional Center with advocacy for, and protection of, these rights.

For more information, please refer to the following links:

Title 17

The Title 17 Regulations are promulgated under the divisions of the Welfare and Institutions Code cited as the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act and the California Government Code cited as the California Early Intervention Services Act. View the Title 17 regulations on the DDS website.  Please noteThe information provided on the DDS website should not be considered the official version of the regulations. To see the official version of these and other regulations, please view the California Code of Regulations (CCR) on the Office of Administrative Law website. Certified copies of regulations are available at the State Archives in the Office of the Secretary of State (916.653.7715). The California Code of Regulations is also available at the offices of County Clerks or County Law Libraries and 100 state depository libraries

Title 22

View the Community Care Licensing Title 22 page

Early Start

View the California Early Intervention Services Act 

THE LAW IN CALIFORNIA - California Legislature Information on Self-Determination

ARTICLE 4. Services and Supports for Persons Living in the Community [4685 - 4689.8]

  (Heading of Article 4 amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 1011, Sec. 20. )

4685.8.  (a) The department shall implement a statewide Self-Determination Program. The Self-Determination Program shall be available in every regional center catchment area to provide participants and their families, within an individual budget, increased flexibility and choice, and greater control over decisions, resources, and needed and desired services and supports to implement their IPP.

For more about Self Determination and State Law:


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"Ms. Maria Ruiz-Merroth was a key factor in the success my son has shown through the years.  She was able to share her knowledge in Special Education topics with us, and with her guidance execute strategies that have allowed my son to succeed at school.  To put this in practical terms, when we started working with Ms. Ruiz-Merroth my son was in an Autism specific preschool program and now he is about to start High School in a regular education setting for 100% of the time and with an IEP that includes only two reading/comprehension goals.  The journey is not an easy one, it takes a lot of effort, but you need a knowledgeable person to show you where you are aiming to and strategize how to get there; this is what Ms. Maria has been for us."

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Ladera Ranch, CA

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La Palma, CA

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