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Self-Determination Program

Programa De Auto-Determinación – en español

What is Self Determination?

Self-Determination was developed as a voluntary alternative to the traditional way of providing regional center services and is intended to offer people more freedom and control over how their services are provided and more freedom and control in who supports them.
Self-Determination is having a choice in all areas of your life including where you want to live, how you will spend your time each day and who you will spend your time with. It’s about having hopes and dreams for the future and developing goals to go after them. It’s about being in control, making your own decisions, spending money your way.

The statewide Self-Determination Program adheres to the following principles to ensure those who participate have:

Freedom – You plan your own life and make your own decisions, just like people without disabilities are able to do

Authority You decide how money is spent for your services and supports

Support – You pick the people and supports that will help you live, work and play in your community

Responsibility – To make decisions in your life for using public money and to accept your valued role in the community

Confirmation – You are the most important person when making plans for your life. You are the decision maker about your services. Self-Determination means “nothing about you without you.”

How is the Self Determination Program different than the traditional program?

Self-Determination provides the flexibility in choosing your services, supports and providers. In the Self Determination Program, you can buy different services from almost anyone in your community, not just those through the regional center. In the traditional program, your service coordinator from the regional center is the person who helps you find the services you need. In Self-Determination, you get to decide who you want to help you. This can be your family, friends, or an Independent Facilitator. You will be given a budget and you will choose which services and supports to use to meet your goals.


Self Determination Program Eligibility

To participate in the Self Determination Program, a person must:

  • Be eligible for Regional Center services
  • Attend an orientation to the Self Determination Program
  • Use Self-Determination Program funds only when generic services are not available
  • Only purchase services necessary to implement the Individual Program Plan
  • Manage services and supports within an individual budget
  • Use a Financial Management Services provider.

TCRC’s Self Determination Orientation

During the orientation, you will hear, in greater detail, information about the Self-Determination Program. At this meeting, people will learn not only about the opportunities but also the increased responsibilities involved in accepting more control over coordinating their services. Understanding this information will help people decide if the Self-Determination Program might be a good option for them. Due to COVID restrictions, TCRC’s orientations will be held by ZOOM. To view TCRC’s orientation schedule for 2021, click here.

Click here to watch a one hour introduction to the Self-Determination Program.

TCRC Orientation Materials

Click here to download a Self-Determination Work Book 

Haga clic aquí para descargar el libro de trabajo en español

Overview of Self Determination Program – Recorded Presentation in English

The orientation materials form the basis of the information participants need to support them in the SDP. In addition to the components above, the orientation will include information on what services are available in the SDP and tools to help participants choose qualified service providers.

To order work books in quantity click here.

What services are included in the Self-Determination Program?

In the Self-Determination Program, planning teams will use a person-centered planning process to develop all Individual Program Plans (IPPs). Persons served, and those who support them, will see many changes in the choice of services and supports available to them. For example, a person served may be able to receive services that regional centers are not allowed to pay for because of past changes to state law; services like camping, certain types of therapies, and behavior services.

Regular regional center services such as supported living services, independent living services and day program services will still be available and can be purchased through the Self-Determination program. Also, there may be new and different services available through local businesses or community agencies that can be purchased through the Self-Determination program.

For the list of Self Determination Services by category, please view it here.

For the Self Determination Program Service Definitions, please view them here.

How will the IPP process be different under the Self-Determination Program?

In Self Determination you will have the opportunity to be more active in creating IPPs and taking on more responsibility in the decision-making process for selecting services and supports. You will receive information and training about managing services and supports along with hiring staff and agencies. You will also have the option of using an “Independent Facilitator” who can help in planning your services and supports and other tasks related to managing your IPP.

 How will budgets be determined under the Self-Determination Program?

You will receive a budget based on the amount of money the regional center spent on your services and supports for the past 12 months.  The budget amount may be changed by the planning team if the you have had a change in your circumstances, needs or resources.

For those who are new to the regional center system, or who have not had a year of regional center services, the planning team will determine the services and supports needed. Using this information, the regional center will put together a budget based on the average cost of similar services.

What is a Fiscal Management Service (FMS) and what does it have to do with the Self-Determination program?

A Fiscal Management Service (FMS) is a service that helps you to manage your budgets under the Self-Determination program. The FMS representative will help make sure that you have enough money to last throughout the year.

The FMS is a required part of the Self-Determination program by California law.  The FMS representative must be part of an agency that contracts with the regional center for services. The FMS representative cannot be a parent or family member of the participant on the Self-Determination program.

Thank you for your interest in the Self-Determination program and please check the Self-Determination page on the DDS website at:  for the most recent updates.

If you want to be notified of DDS updates and progress of the Self Determination Program, please email

For more information, click on the links below:

Department of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS):

TCRC’s Clients’ Rights Advocate

Erica Clark, Clients’ Rights Advocate/Attorney

Gina Gheno, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate

Telephone: 805-308-8950

State Council on Developmental Disabilities

Central Coast Office

David Grady, Manager

Jennifer Lucas, Advocate

Telephone:  408 324-2106