The Leigh Law Group has been and continues to track changes to the laws protecting disabled children, special-education students, Regional Center consumers, and IHSS recipients. While the below is guidance and not intended as legal advice, it should hopefully help the families of individuals accessing Regional Center services and InHome Support Services (IHSS) to understand the changes affecting their services. If you live in a state outside of California, you should contact a local disability rights attorney or locate the laws and guidance affecting disability rights in your state. If you believe you need an attorney, you should retain legal counsel to avoid missing any potential statute of limitations that may affect your case.
Here in California, the Leigh Law Group continues to work with their clients accessing Regional Center services and IHSS to ensure critical services are uninterrupted.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND GUIDANCE ISSUED BY THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA AND ITS AGENCIES REGARDING REGIONAL CENTER SERVICES
- Are there some services that are allowed to be provided in person or face to face? ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS:
Yes. To help state, local, tribal, and industry professionals protect communities and ensure continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, on March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order exempting essential critical infrastructure workers from the state’s shelter-in-place directive. Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers include professionals providing IHSS and regional center services, such as physicians, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants, social workers, speech pathologists and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians and technologists. Learn more about professionals deemed Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers here: https://covid19.ca.gov/img/EssentialCriticalInfrastructureWorkers.pdf.
- Can I still contact my regional center and/or service coordinator despite the widespread facilities closures?
Yes, regional center services through the CA Department of Developmental Services are still being offered, despite many regional center offices being closed to the public, and service coordinators continue to be available to address inquiries. Contact your regional center for specific questions: https://www.dds.ca.gov/rc/listings/
- Are regional centers still permitted to make eligibility determinations given the limitations on initial intake on assessment?
Yes, the CA Department of Developmental Services issued guidance on March 25, 2020 regarding Lanterman Act eligibility: https://www.dds.ca.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2020/03/DDSDirective_RequirementsWaived_03252020.pdf Even if a regional center is unable to make a definitive determination, it may, if it is reasonably certain the individual is eligible for regional center services, deem the individual presumptively eligible. However, if, after reassessment, the individual found eligible during the effective period of this directive does not have a developmental disability as defined in the Lanterman Act, the regional center’s requirement to show the original finding of eligibility was clearly erroneous is waived.
- Am I able to access any services or schedule early start or IPP meetings remotely?
Yes, the CA Department of Developmental Services issued guidance on March 12, 2020 waiving requirements for in-person meetings and services made available pursuant to the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Lanterman Act), the California Early Intervention Services Act, and/or certain provisions of Title 17, Division 2 of the California Code of Regulations (Title 17). In many cases, consumers can still convene meetings and receive services remotely: https://www.dds.ca.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2020/03/DDSDirective_RequirementWaivedDueCOVID_031220 .pdf To the extent requested by a parent/guardian citing concern related to exposure to COVID-19, and/or to the extent feasible, regional centers may conduct evaluation and assessment activities, provide services, and provide service coordination by remote electronic communications, including Skype, Facetime, video conference, or telephone conference.
- Can I modify services specified as in-person in the IPP to remote services for the time being? Will this have permanent effect on the IPP?
Yes, the CA Department of Developmental Services issued additional guidance on March 18, 2020 waiving certain requirements of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Lanterman Act), the California Early Intervention Services Act, and/or certain provisions of Title 17, Division 2 of the California Code of Regulations (Title 17) in order to provide regional centers more flexibility to support consumers and their families: https://www.dds.ca.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2020/03/DDSDirective_AdditionalWaivedRequirements_031820 20.pdf A parent/guardian, due to concern related to exposure to COVID-19, may request that one or more services to be delivered either in-person or in a specific location pursuant to an Individual Program Plan (IPP) be provided in an alternate location or through remote electronic communications, including Skype, Facetime, video conference, or telephone conference. The agreement to provide services in an alternate location or through remote electronic communication shall not change the frequency or duration of any IPP service absent the agreement of the consumer’s IPP team.
- Will residential placements modify day services to prevent consumer exposure to COVID-19?
The CA Department of Developmental Services issued guidance on March 12, 2020 regarding day services for consumers at high risk for serious illness due to COVID-19: https://www.dds.ca.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2020/03/DDSDirective_DayServices_COVID-19_20200312.pdf Yes, DDS has issued guidance covering how regional centers should act to protect consumers who have compromised immune systems or who are more susceptible to respiratory illness, and/or who reside in Adult Residential Facilities for Persons with Special Health Care Needs, Intermediate Care Facilities/Developmentally Disabled-Nursing, or Intermediate Care Facilities/Developmentally DisabledContinuous Nursing Facilities.
- Have restrictions on Participant-Directed Services been changed as a result of COVID-19?
Yes, the CA Department of Developmental Services issued guidance on March 25, 2020 expanding availability of participant-directed services so that concerns related exposure to COVID-19 are less likely to prevent consumers’ ability to access services: https://www.dds.ca.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2020/03/DDSDirective_AdditionalParticipantDirectedServices_0 3302020.pdf
- Can regional centers provide services while school is closed due to COVID-19?
DDS has issued guidance advising that consumers contact their service coordinator to determine what services may be available to school-aged consumers.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES WAIVER EXTENSIONS:
- The CA Department of Developmental Services issued a directive on April 2, 2020 extending the above-described deadlines another 30 days: https://www.dds.ca.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2020/04/DDSDirective_Extensions_04022020.pdf
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES SPECIALEDUCATION HEARINGS:
The Office of Administrative Hearing (“OAH”) has issued guidance on how general jurisdiction proceedings will be handled during the COVID-19 pandemic shelter-in-place orders. To review, visit:
GENERAL GUIDANCE FROM THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES:
For general guidance from DDS on how to navigate regional center services and related consumer needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and statewide shelter-inplace order, visit DDS’s FAQ page: https://www.dds.ca.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2020/03/COVID19_FAQ_Individuals-Families_03252020.pdf
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND GUIDANCE ISSUED BY THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA AND ITS AGENCIES REGARDING IN-HOME SUPPORT SERVICES
In-Home Support Services (IHSS) are still being delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Program recipients should contact their county and/or check their county IHSS pages for more details regarding services: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/county-ihss-offices.
- I have an upcoming face-to-face assessment to establish eligibility for IHSS. Will it go forward?
Yes, the CA Department of Social Services issued an All County Letter on March 24, 2020 stating that the initial face-to-face assessment must still be performed. However, in order to minimize the amount of assessment time spent, the social worker should collect all relevant information possible over the phone before the home visit. Before going to the recipient’s home, the social worker should also ask the recipient if the recipient is asymptomatic and whether they know they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. A social worker with any symptoms of illness and/or known exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 is not permitted to do an in-home assessment. Read more here: https://cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/Additional-Resources/Letters-andNotices/ACLs/2020/ACL_20-26.pdf Note, counties are permitted to suspend any scheduled reassessment through June 30, 2020.
- Can I access additional support as an IHSS program recipient over 65 years of age?
Yes, the CA Department of Social Services issued an All County Letter on March 30, 2020 stating that additional support for at-risk recipients most in need of such outreach can be initiated by your social worker as needed: https://cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/Additional-Resources/Letters-andNotices/ACLs/2020/20-30.pdf