Metzger, Raphael

The Hijacking of the Lanterman Act for the Developmentally Disabled

By Raphael Metzger

Last week the California Senate Committee on Human Services held a hearing on the Lanterman Act and the future of services for the disabled. Among those present were representatives from the leadership of some of the nonprofit organizations mis-conceptualized as “regional centers created by the Lanterman Act” to serve the disabled.  The fact is that the Lanterman Act did not create any of the organizations we today call “regional centers”.  

Regional centers are privately run nonprofit corporations created and existing pursuant to California law governing non-profit corporations.  What Lanterman did do was to create a function called “regional center” and require that DDS work through private sector contractors to implement this function.  Similarly, although they are not labeled as such, the individuals, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses “vendorized” through regional centers to provide services to the disabled are, fundamentally, sub-contractors.