Participation In The Self-Determination Program Is Voluntary
Some consumers and their families may disagree with the approach taken by the Self-Determination Bill, or are simply happy with the care they receive under the current system administered by the regional centers. Those consumers and families are free to continue to access vendors and services through the regional centers in the way that they always have. Participation in the Self-Determination Program is entirely elective for families in California, who will have to “opt-in” if they want to take advantage of the program’s increased autonomy.
The Self-Determination Program Vastly Expands The Kinds of Services Available To Consumers
Using your personal annual budget of state funds, you can purchase virtually any kind of service for your consumer. This includes community living support, transportation, advocacy services, family education, respite, home health aides, specialized medical equipment and supplies, personal attendant services, and employment training. In fact, as long as it is within their budget, participants can even purchase services like equestrian therapy and sleep-away camp that have been “suspended” under recent changes to the Lanterman Act. In addition, YOU DECIDE whether the services and supports you’ve purchased are meeting your needs or not. If you decide they aren’t good enough, you’re free to change service providers without going through a regional center approval process.
Participants In The Self-Determination Program Don’t Have To Obtain Services Through Regional Center-Approved Agencies
Participants in self-determination are free to obtain services through the officially vendorized service agencies with whom they have existing relationships, but they are also free to seek out and hire their own service providers who have not been vendorized by a regional center. They can even negotiate unique service plans with their existing vendorized providers that wouldn’t have been possible under the previous system. Participants also have the right to hire, supervise, direct, evaluate, and terminate any service provider at their discretion. Similar to the increased control over funds provided by the independent fiscal manager, the authority to select and replace service providers without going through the regional center allows families to truly customize their consumer’s program!
You’re Also Going To Start Hearing About People Called “Service Brokers”
In a general sense, a service broker is similar to a services coordinator at a regional center. They help you locate service providers in your community, plan a comprehensive program, and coordinate the logistics of how the plan will fit into the consumer’s life. The major difference between a service coordinator and a service broker is that YOU CHOOSE your own service broker and that person or agency is employed BY YOU, not by the regional center. This change allows you to customize every aspect of your consumer’s service plan in cooperation with a professional who places your interests first. A friend or family member can be your service broker, as long as they know the services available in your community and can handle the duties of the position.
You’re Also Going To Start Hearing About “Fiscal Managers” And “Fiscal Management Services”
A Fiscal Management Service, or FMS, helps you work out a yearly budget of state funds to pay for your service plan, and takes charge of dispensing the money in your budget to service providers included in the plan. A fiscal manager is like your accountant, but you should make sure that they also know about the particular financial challenges and tools, such as special needs trusts, that arise in the field of disability rights. Just like service brokers, you will find and hire your own fiscal manager, and that person will work for you, not for the regional center. If you become unhappy with the services of your fiscal manager or simply want to pursue a new financial strategy in providing services to your consumer, you can get a new one. Together, your service broker and your FMS make up an important part of your “circle of support.”
Participants Calculate Their Annual Budget Using Two Basic Formulas
Participants in self-determination will have an annual meeting with regional center representatives and their fiscal manager to determine the amount of the consumer’s annual budget. This meeting is similar to an IIP meeting under the current system. The team at this meeting asks themselves a few questions in order to come up with an annual budget amount. First, they ask how much it has taken in past years to meet the needs of your consumer? Next, they ask how much it takes people in the area to meet the needs of a consumer who has a similar diagnosis and presentation to your consumer’s. The second of these questions enables you not to get stuck in a loop of continually basing your new annual service plans off the services you received under your old ones.
Participants Have A Voice In How Self-Determination Operates
In order for the Department of Developmental Services to evaluate whether the self-determination program is meeting the needs of consumers, they will periodically conduct reviews to seek input from the program’s stakeholders. Because you, the participant, will have so much more control over your consumer’s program under the new system, you will be in the best position to tell the state what aspects of the program are working great, and what could use tweaking. This increased role in the oversight of the program is just another way that the legislature designed the self-determination program to be goal-driven and consumer-centered.