If you’ve heard about the benefits of self-determination, but feel overwhelmed by the enrollment process, don’t panic. While enrollment does, indeed, require several steps, you’ll only need to initiate three of them on your own. After that, you’ll have a team in place to guide you through the rest.
All individuals served through Regional Centers may now enroll in the Self-Determination Program (SDP). “The program is tailored to meet the unique goals of each person by allowing them the freedom to choose what types of services and supports they would benefit from,” says San Diego Regional Center Self-Determination Program Manager Katie Dempsey. SDP enrollees enjoy unprecedented flexibility to choose programs they prefer—and are no longer limited to vendors contracted with Regional Centers.
“The SDP process supports clients’ rights to determine what they want for their own lives without having to choose from a limited menu,” says Megan Christian, who is an independent facilitator and a person with Autism. “What people like most is that they are finally being heard—and what they want matters.”
During the enrollment process, a budget is developed that can be used to purchase self-determination services within the community or with existing vendors of the Regional Center. Individuals who feel they could benefit from expanded options can follow these three easy steps to begin SDP enrollment.
STEP 1: Attend an Orientation
All prospective enrollees must attend an orientation. Orientations are offered online through both San Diego Regional Center (www.sdrc.org) and the State Council for Developmental Disabilities (https://scdd.ca.gov). Participants can register for a two-hour orientation on either website.
“During the orientation, individuals will learn the basics of self-determination, including what person-centered planning is, how individual budgets are calculated, and what types of services and supports they can receive under the program,” says Dempsey.
STEP 2: Notify Your Local Regional Center Service Coordinator
After attending orientation, clients should let their service coordinator know that they’d like to participate in SDP. This is also the time to request a budget from the service coordinator.
STEP 3: Connect with an Independent Facilitator
Next, choose an independent facilitator (more information below). Independent facilitators work closely with each client to develop a Person-Centered Plan, which is required for participation in the program.
“A Person-Centered Plan is developed to highlight the person’s strengths, goals and dreams in order to provide insight into how services and supports can assist them in reaching their full potential,” says Dempsey. “An independent facilitator or a service coordinator can then guide the process of enrollment from there.”
Please note that there are additional steps to enroll, but after you complete these first three, your independent facilitator will guide you through the rest of the process, which includes choosing a financial management service and developing an individual budget, spending plan and Individual Program Plan.
What is an Independent Facilitator?
Independent facilitators are community partners who act as enrollment guides. They are trained in self-determination and person-centered planning. They have a great deal of experience and knowledge to share about the program and can guide clients every step of the way.
The initial cost of an independent facilitator is paid for by the Regional Center. After clients are enrolled in SDP, they can choose to continue paying for the independent facilitator’s services using their individual SDP budget.
How to Find an Independent Facilitator
Service coordinators can provide a list of qualified independent facilitators to choose from, though many clients prefer to reach out to their community for referrals. Friends who have gone through the process might be able to recommend an excellent provider.
“No matter how you connect with an independent facilitator, it is important to have a conversation with them to decide if they are a good match for you,” says Christian. “Don’t hesitate to interview more than one, especially if you didn’t feel good about the first one you spoke with.”
Where to Get Help
Clients who feel confused about any of the initial steps should contact their service coordinator or independent facilitator. The San Diego Regional Center is also available to answer questions via email at email@example.com.
While the enrollment process can be daunting, many people feel the benefits are well worth the effort. “In hearing feedback from those enrolled in the program, the flexibility and creativity that they have within self-determination has been the best part. Participants in the program are encouraged to step outside the box and dream of what is possible to reach their goals,” says Dempsey.
Anne Malinoski is a contributing writer. She lives in Santee with her husband and two sons.