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Public Policy

California is the only State in the nation, and the only place in the world, with a law that promises each individual with a developmental disability the services and supports he or she needs.  This is the promise of the Lanterman Act. The part of the Lanterman Act that guarantees this right is often referred to as California's "entitlement" for people with developmental disabilities.  Keeping this law in place is the foundation of all advocacy for individuals with developmental disabilities in California.

We urge everyone to read The Arc of California's brief paper explaining
the Entitlement and its profound importance.

Click here to read the paper (PDF)

Papers and Articles

The following papers and articles are being made available for your information and reference because we believe the topics raised have continuing and increasing importance to people with developmental disabilities in Contra Costa County and throughout California.


Community Services—The Way Forward: An Approach to a Policy on Community Service Options.


The Lanterman Act was passed into law in 1969 to create a community alternative to State Developmental Centers in California. Over subsequent decades, the Act has been gradually updated and strengthened.   Through this process, the state has affirmed two fundamental principles which form the foundation of California's developmental disabilities system:

  • Every Californian with a developmental disability has the right to be included in his or her community as a full and active participant.
  • The individual program plan (IPP) - through which individuals choose the services and supports they need to realize their life goals – is the system's driving legal document.

But what happens when these two principles are in conflict?  What happens if a consumer's choice is, or appears to be, in conflict with the system goal of community inclusion?  This paper considers the importance of the two principles, discusses the ways they interrelate and concludes that everyone working in the system has a moral and a professional responsibility to support them both.

The paper also addresses the key role of consensus-building in moving the system forward and emphasizes the importance of including the views of affected consumers and families when major policy changes are being considered.

The paper acknowledges the intense and passionate nature of debate on these topics and suggests that those engaged in the debate actually share a great deal of common ground.  Based on this common ground the paper suggests the necessary elements of sound public policy to guide the system in moving forward.

Click here for the complete Community Services—The Way Forward paper (PDF)


The Arc of California's Position on the Establishment of Workforce Service Centers: Written in 2003, this paper is a response to the proposal by the Service Employee's International Union (SEIU) to create a new public "employer of record" for the 100,000+ direct service staff members now working for local agencies serving individuals with developmental disabilities throughout California.

Complete Position Paper (PDF)
Summary of Position (PDF)

System Reform, Managed Care, and the Myth of a Free Market in California's Developmental Disabilities System: Written in September, 1996, this paper talks about California's strong commitment to a "consumer driven" system with a clear "balance of power" among the consumer, government agencies and corporate entities involved.  The paper describes how Managed Care concepts now threaten California's commitment to it's citizens with developmental disabilities.

Recognizing the Reality: Written in September, 1995, this paper looks at programmatic changes underway in the system and the growing tension between consumer choice and the state's fiscal limitations.

Realizing the Vision: Written in April, 1994, this paper discusses the movement towards consumer rights, consumer choice and self-determination and the importance of linking system change with sound fiscal planning and a common value base.

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