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System in Distress: caring for Californians with Developmental Disabilities | Little Hoover

Updated: Feb 7

Department of Developmental Services (DDS) says it is "committed to facing shortcomings" identified in Commission Report with a "priority to identify and remove the obstacles that prevent access to services from being uniform across regions, income brackets, race, and culture..."




The Little Hoover Commission released a 28-page report today with seven recommendations for the Legislature and state officials to consider implementing that the commission concludes would improve the state's developmental disabilities services system under the landmark Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, known as the "Lanterman Act".

In its report, titled "A System in Distress: Caring for Californians with Developmental Disabilities", the Commission urged state policymakers to address ongoing disparities in the availability and quality of services for this vulnerable community (see below for a link to the full report, fact sheet, and executive summary).

The report was produced following a series of three public hearings held on October 27th, November 10th, and December 8th last year. The hearings were live-streamed and attended in person by many advocates and others. In addition to the hearings, the Commission received written comments (see the Commission website to view the recorded hearings and to view the comments submitted).

The report found what it called "broad problems" in the state developmental disabilities services system, including inconsistencies in services among racial and ethnic groups and among different regions across the state.

The Commission asserted in its report that each of the 21 regional centers currently has "...discretion to establish its own processes to assess individuals for services and determine the array of services offered and under what conditions. This leads to substantial variation in client experiences across the state."

The Commission called on the Legislature to further expand state oversight of the 21 regional centers and to establish more consistent policies, procedures and a core set of services offered statewide.

While the Commission hearings and subsequent report focused on services and supports that children and adults with developmental disabilities eligible to receive services through those 21 non-profit regional centers, it did not look at other major services that people with developmental disabilities also rely on for other long term services and supports, health care, education, housing, and transportation, including special education, IHSS, Medi-Cal, behavioral and mental health services, child welfare services (including foster care), where similar major concerns of equity and disparities have been raised consistently in legislative budget hearings this year and in recent years.

CDCAN NOTE: To receive the free CDCAN Reports, send email request, with "Subscribe CDCAN" in the subject line, to Marty Omoto at: martyomoto@att.net


Statements by Commission Chair and Vice Chair on Report

Pedro Nava, Commission Chair: “We are failing at providing equal access to public services for the intellectually and developmentally disabled. These valuable services, or a lack thereof, can make a critical impact on an individual’s and their family's quality of life.”

Sean Varner, Commission Vice Chair: “The developmental disabilities services system offers a vital lifeline to many individuals and their families. We must do more to address inequalities and inefficiencies in service to better support those who need assistance.”


Statement by Director of Department of Developmental Services (DDS) on Report

Nancy Bargmann, director of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), who has been widely praised by disability advocates and policymakers, including many advocates who provided comments to the commission, issued today the following statement in response to the report:

"The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) welcomes this report from the Little Hoover Commission. Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve a better system of care and support; a better coordinated, consistent, modernized system anchored in equity and empathy.”

"We are committed to facing the shortcomings identified in this report. We have made it our priority to identify and remove the obstacles that prevent access to services from being uniform across regions, income brackets, races, and cultures. This work is central to who we are as a department, and this report will bolster and strengthen our efforts moving forward.”

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WHAT IS THE LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

California’s Little Hoover Commission was modeled after the federal Hoover Commission, created in 1947 to study and make specific recommendations to improve the organizational structure of the executive branch.

The federal Hoover Commission was bipartisan, with members appointed by the Congress and the president to represent the legislative and executive branches and the public and private sectors.

It was called the Hoover Commission because former President Herbert Hoover served as the first chair of that federal commission.

California's "Little Hoover Commission" - officially known as the Milton Marks "Little Hoover" Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy - was created in 1962 as an independent and bipartisan state agency charged with making recommendations to the governor and California Legislature on ways to make state programs more efficient and effective.


DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES (DDS) RESPONSE

The California Department of Developmental Services released late this afternoon the following statement from director Nancy Bargmann, in response to the Little Hoover Commission report:


“The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) welcomes this report from the Little Hoover Commission. Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve a better system of care and support; a better coordinated, consistent, modernized system anchored in equity and empathy.”

“We are committed to facing the shortcomings identified in this report. We have made it our priority to identify and remove the obstacles that prevent access to services from being uniform across regions, income brackets, races, and cultures.”

“This work is central to who we are as a department, and this report will bolster and strengthen our efforts moving forward.”

The Little Hoover Commission conducted a serious examination of the complexities that challenge California’s efforts to provide quality services to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The report is a valuable reminder that collectively we have much more work to do to realize our vision of a whole-person, data-centered, and equity-focused system. The past two state budgets have made significant strides in advancing reforms to improve access to quality services and supports that are culturally and linguistically responsive to Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

However, there is much more work ahead of us.

WORK CONTINUES: Our work is especially focused on individuals with significant service needs requiring increased attention, as well as young children entering the system who can benefit from early intervention services. Additionally, through an extensive stakeholder process, the Department has recently finalized Phase I of the Quality Incentive Program, which includes seven measures linked to provider payments. The measures advance the vision of a developmental services system in the areas of

prevention and wellness, employment, access to services, and workforce capacity, while also focusing on the delivery of high-quality, outcome-based services.

WHAT COMES NEXT: Despite historic investments and initiatives focused on improved service access and equity, it is our obligation to hold ourselves and our system partners accountable, while ensuring that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive community-based services and supports that embrace choice and allow them to live with purpose and dignity. We look forward to working with consumers, families, regional centers, and providers to further iterate and improve on our work to ensure that we address the shortcomings identified in the report. Additionally, we will continue to partner with the Legislature on necessary system changes that deliver on our vision for a 21st-century developmental services system in California.


Learn More:

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION - website:


LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION - Fact Sheet: Caring for Californians with Developmental Disabilities - PDF Document (1 page) - posted on Little Hoover Commission website:


LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION - A System in Distress: Caring for Californians with Developmental Disabilities - Report #273, April 2023

Full Report - PDF Document (28 pages) - posted on the Little Hoover Commission website:

Executive Summary - PDF Document (2 pages) - posted on the Little Hoover Commission website:

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