A settlement agreement reached in the first quarter of 2014 is helping insure appropriate service for tens of thousands of developmentally disabled individuals living in California’s San Bernardino and Riverside counties. DWT partner Terri Keville, along with associate Sarah Fallows and former associate Aleah Yung, helped gather information and negotiate and draft the agreement on behalf of our pro bono client, Disability Rights California (DRC).
The agreement follows more than five years of effort to improve services and communications by the Inland Regional Center (IRC), a non-profit, private agency that is the largest of 21 regional centers in California working with the developmentally disabled.
Among the many issues raised by DRC were ongoing complaints that IRC provided inadequate notification and failed to provide fair process when it terminated or reduced services to some consumers. Specifically, complainants said that IRC’s notifications:
- failed to clearly state which services were being reduced or terminated, and why;
- did not let consumers know about their right to appeal or explain how to do so;
- did not inform consumers about their right to receive continuing services pending the outcome of timely filed appeals; and
- were only in English, although many IRC consumers and their families are not fluent in English.
Under an agreement signed between the parties in January, IRC has agreed to abide by a number of important guidelines regarding its notifications to applicants and consumers, insuring timeliness, responsiveness, and clear communication, as well as its processes for ensuring that consumers receive necessary services.
DWT attorneys have devoted well over 500 hours to the matter, and will continue to work with DRC to assist and monitor compliance with the agreement.
“These are some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” says Keville, “and our team could not be more proud to help them and their families secure needed services and their due-process rights when services are reduced or terminated.”