Alta California Regional Center: helping people with developmental disabilities thrive

November 19, 2021 by Erin Bernall

Nonprofits Insurance Alliance (NIA) and Alta California Regional Center (ACRC) have something in common. Each nonprofit is helping thousands meet their mission, whether as an organization or an individual.

More than 27,000 people with a developmental disability in Northern California’s foothills and Sierra Nevada mountain range receive essential services and support year-round from ACRC, a private, nonprofit agency funded and overseen by the California State Department of Developmental Services (DDS). ACRC is one of 21 regional centers in California, which were established under the Lanterman Act. Passed in 1969, the legislation aimed to support individuals with developmental disabilities by providing community-based services, rather than placing people in state developmental hospitals or other clinical institution settings that had been the practice for decades prior.    

The center works with contracted providers to provide a range of health and human services and resources for people from birth through end-of-life in Alpine, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties. “We are engaged with community stakeholders to ensure the services we offer are meaningful and valuable to the clients we serve,” says ACRC Executive Director Lori Banales. ACRC clients with a developmental disability have been diagnosed with intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy or autism.

ACRC creates partnerships to support all eligible individuals with developmental disabilities, children at risk, and their families in choosing services and supports through individual lifelong planning as a means to achieve healthy and productive lives in their own communities. Early intervention services are customized to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. For school-age children, ACRC service coordinators work with students and their families to create individualized plans to assist in the child’s learning. For adults with developmental disabilities, regional center program coordinators provide assistance in such areas as employment, housing, adult programs, healthy relationships, and accessing community services, among many other topics. Ensuring that families get the support and resources they need to make informed choices for their loved ones is also fundamental to overall program success. Service coordinators are specially trained to help guide family members and caregivers in accessing the resources they need as caregivers of someone with a developmental disability.

Although the regional center system serves approximately 300,000 individuals statewide, Banales says that many people remain unaware that the system exists. “We continue to provide outreach in our local communities in order to educate people on what the regional center is and how to initiate the process and access services,” she says. “We provide educational outreach as a means to increase awareness about individuals who have a developmental disability as well as discuss the array of services and supports that are available for clients who are deemed eligible for services.”

ACRC’s team approach, which integrates the expertise of service providers and the participation of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, empowers individuals to live meaningful lives. The collective effort also bonds communities. “We solicit input from our clients, families and community stakeholders to roll out different initiatives. Through working together, and implementing suggestions brought forward, we strengthen and build our community to better support the clients we serve,” says Banales.

As a nonprofit organization itself, NIA understands the value of listening to members and offering quality services that help members focus on what they do best – serving their communities. It’s one of the many reasons why NIA continues to grow as the premier insurance provider that exclusively serves 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in 32 states and the District of Columbia. Since welcoming ACRC as its 22,000th member this summer, NIA has grown to serve more than 22,600 members. Investopedia named NIA Best Overall Nonprofit Insurance Provider in 2021. Learn more about NIA.

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Erin Bernall

About the Author

Erin Bernall is a content creator and editor who specializes in helping businesses deliver their messages with purpose and clarity. She has worked extensively with organizations in the nonprofit, finance and healthcare sectors. In addition to her work in corporate communications, Erin is a published journalist whose credits include Coastal Living, American Spa, Ski Area Management, and American City Business Journals.