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The Lanterman Act, groundbreaking legislation that forever changed the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities in the state of California.

Since the early 1950’s, the developmental services system for individuals with developmental disabilities has come a long way in the state of California and the nation as a whole.

The Lanterman Act, passed in 1969, is the groundbreaking legislation which emphatically declared that people with developmental disabilities and their families have a right to receive the services and supports they need to live like any other individual without disabilities in the state of California. This meant that individuals, no matter what level or type of developmental disability they were diagnosed with had the right to live as free men and women within their local communities and to receive the proper local agency supports to ensure their safety and success.

Before this act passed, the only option for government-funded services in California were state institutions called “State Hospitals” or “State Developmental Centers”. While the federal government and individual states worked on improving the conditions within these institutions, individuals in these facilities were treated and cared for with inhumane and inappropriate methods where individual inalienable rights under our constitution were ignored and not afforded to those living there. Even though treatment has improved over the years in such facilities, those still residing in these centers are not free to live the life they deserve.

In the past, individuals with developmental disabilities faced segregation, isolation and a lack of basic freedoms that every human deserves. Now, due to pioneering laws, such as the Lanterman Act and others, they have many more opportunities available today. Since the inception of the Lanterman Act, agencies such as The SAILS Group, Inc. and others have earned the opportunity to open homes in local communities throughout the state by winning State of California Regional Center Request for Proposals. These local homes have transitioned 132 individuals just in the past 12 months into the community.

The Lanterman Act outlines the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, how the regional centers and service providers can help these individuals, what services and supports they can obtain, how to use the individualized program plan to get needed services, what to do when someone violates the Lanterman Act, and how to improve the system. The Lanterman Act initiatives are funded via the State of California’s Department of Developmental Services’ Community Placement Plan (CPP) budget.

For more information on this topic and other services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, feel free to contact The SAILS Group, Inc. at or visit their website at