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California’s Two Developmental Disabilities Entities: What’s the Difference?

Oversees the coordination and delivery of services to more than 330,000 individuals with disabilities

By Chris Micheli, September 7, 2020 7:11 am

California has two developmental disability-related entities: State Council on Developmental Disabilities and Department of Developmental Services. What’s the difference?

State Council on Developmental Disabilities

Welfare and Institutions Code Division 4.5, Chapter 2, which was added in 1977, established the State Council on Developmental Disabilities in Section 4520 to 4555. Article 1 concerns the composition of the Council and appointments to it. Section 4520 provides that a State Council on Developmental Disabilities with authority independent of any single state agency is created.

Section 4520 also contains several legislative findings and declarations. For example, the Legislature finds that in each of the 56 states and territories, the federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 establishes state councils on developmental disabilities that work to promote the core values of the federal Act., including self-determination, independence, productivity, integration, and inclusion in all aspects of community life.

In addition, California’s State Council on Developmental Disabilities was established pursuant to the federal Act to engage in advocacy, capacity building, and systemic change activities that are consistent with the policy contained in the federal Act. The federal Act requires the Council to promote specified principles. The Legislature also found that the Council faces unique challenges in ensuring access and furthering these principles due to the State’s size, diversity, and a service delivery system that promotes significant local control.

The Council may use funds allocated to it in accordance with the purposes of the federal Act. According to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD), it is established by state and federal law as an independent state agency to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and their families receive the services and support that they need.

Disability Advisory Committee

The Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) within the Council serves as an accessibility resource for all employees with disabilities. The DAC assists the Council’s Executive Director and the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office to create and maintain a workplace for all individuals to have equal and fair employment access and opportunity. According to the Committee, its goal “is to ensure that employees with disabilities are integrated and included in the SCDD workforce. The DAC promotes disability awareness and equal opportunities for all SCDD employees.”

Department of Developmental Services

Welfare and Institutions Code Division 4.1, Part 1, added to the law in 1977, provides in Section 4400 that there is the Health and Welfare Agency a State Department of Development Services (SDDS). In Section 4406, the SDDS succeeds to and is vested with the duties, purposes, responsibilities, and jurisdiction exercised by the State Department of Health with respect to developmental disabilities.

According to the California Department of Development Services, it ensures that Californians with developmental disabilities have the opportunity to lead independent, productive lives in their community of choice. The Department oversees the coordination and delivery of services to more than 330,000 individuals who have cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, Down Syndrome, autism, epilepsy, and related conditions through a network of 21 regional centers and state-operated facilities.

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One thought on “California’s Two Developmental Disabilities Entities: What’s the Difference?

  1. I’ve followed the series of articles about two and three agencies apparently doing similar things. A simple budget cut would be to combine the agencies into one and letting go the high priced administrators and any duplication of the people they administrator.

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