2 The Regional Center Fair Hearing Process can include the following steps if all parties agree. RC sends a written Notice of Action including information about requesting a Hearing.An informal meeting can be held with the RC.A voluntary mediation can be conducted.A Fair Hearing
3 Under the Lanterman Act, certain rights are guaranteed. If you disagree with a Regional Center decision you have the following rights:To notice of the decision,To notice of hearing,To have an authorized representative,To examine the agency’s file about you.To examine the records that the agency used in making the decision, andTo a timely and adequate hearing.
4 The written Notice of Action must contain certain information The written Notice of Action must contain certain information. If the notice does not contain all of the required information, it is an invalid notice.The RC must notify you within 15 days if your request is denied. The NOA must include the following:The action they are taking,The reason for that action, The effective date,The law or regulation they are relying on,How to appeal,Fair Hearing Rights includingAid Paid Pending,Translation.,Access to Records,Informal meetings and Mediation, andAvailability of advocacy assistance.
5 Aid Paid Pending is an important facet of the RC appeal process. If you appeal a reduction or cancellation of services within 10 days of receiving the NOA, your services will continue during the appeal process. This ensures that people will not have a gap in necessary services.
6 The Informal Meeting is the 1st Step in the Appeal Process. The purpose is to resolve the issue or at least clarify or reduce the disagreement for hearing.It must be held within 10 days of your request.It is a meeting between you (and your representative, if you have one) and a regional center representative.You can bring other people with you to explain the case but you do not have to.The RC will send you a letter outlining its offer to you to resolve the dispute.The decision will go into effect in 10 days after the meeting unless you indicate disagreement by requesting mediation of a hearing.You do not have to participate in an informal.
7 Mediation is a specialized process with a third party to help you and the RC reach agreement. An independent, trained mediator informally meets with you and a regional center representative.Takes place within 20 days of your request for hearing.The mediator tries to find common ground and new solutions.The mediator has no power to force an agreement.If you reach agreement, you sign a private agreement and the appeal process stops.If you do not reach agreement you proceed to fair hearing.
8 The Actual Fair Hearing! Hearing is held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ is an independent officer of the court and employed by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).Must take place within 50 days of your hearing request unless a delay is requested for good cause.A list of witnesses and the general subject of their testimony and all evidence must be exchanged with the RC 5 calendar days prior to the hearing.People can have attorneys or advocates or family members represent them or they can represent themselves.
9 What Happens At The Hearing? The Judge opens the case and explains the process. He then will go over the witness and evidence lists. This is the time to object to any witness or piece of evidence that you feel the judge should not have access to.The judge then asks for opening statements and clarifies the issue that he has to decide on.The Regional Center presents its case by calling witnesses to testify.You can ask questions of its witnesses during “cross-examination.”
10 What Happens At The Hearing? After Regional Center presents its case, it is your turn to present yours. You can call witnesses or testify yourself. Make sure to explain why you need the amount of respite that you have requested.Regional Center gets the opportunity to “cross-examine” your witnesses.After all evidence and witnesses are finished, the Judge will ask for closing arguments. You can either do it orally or request that it be done in a written closing brief instead.The hearing is over and you will receive a decision in the mail a few weeks later.
11 How Do I Prepare For The Hearing? Gather facts and informationMake of list of your child’s needs. Write down everything you do for your child. Also note the things you can’t do with your child but could do with a child of similar age without a disability.Describe your situation ie single parent, healthcare needs of your own or another sibling.Specify what you need respite for, ie to go to a support group.Describe other sources of respite and why they are not enough, ie IHSS, nursing, or other family members.Calculate and list how many hours of respite you need.List what will happen if you don’t get the respite.
12 What Questions Do I Ask At The Hearing? Write questions that help you to explain why you need respite, how you determined the amount that you need, and what you will use it for.Explain what regional center did in response to your request for respite.Practice the questions with your witnesses before going to hearing!
13 What Do I Need At The Hearing? You need witnesses that back up what you are saying.These can be family members, babysitters, friends, or teachers.You can also subpoena people. But, be careful subpoening witnesses with whom you have not been able to discuss their testimony.You need documents that back up what you are saying.Letters from doctors or care providers thatdiscuss the needs of your child.School IEP’s that discuss your child’s behavior.Medical records that describe his/her needs.
14 What Do I Do After The Hearing? The Judge will issue a written decision within 10 days of when the hearing ends unless otherwise agreed.If you win, the regional center must implement the decision.If you or the regional center are not satisfied with this decision, you can appeal it to Superior Court. Very few decisions are appealed.
15 Legal Resources Websites Protection and Advocacy, Inc.Office of Administrative HearingsCalifornia Code of Regulations - Titles 17 & 22Lanterman ActCalifornia Laws at Findlaw