IRC Service Access and Equity (SAE) Efforts

Community EngagementGeneral Announcements

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Inland Regional Center (IRC) is a springboard to greater independence for people with developmental disabilities in the Inland Empire. We are a non-profit agency that has provided support to people with intellectual disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy since 1972. Today we provide case management and service coordination for more than 45,000 clients in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

February 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of IRC and the beginning of the regional center system in the Inland Empire. It is important to reflect on how far we have come since the agency first opened its doors to the community back in 1972.

Over the years, there have been significant policy changes that have impacted the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. The country has also experienced collective growth, resulting in an increase of acceptance for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This has led to an increase in advocacy for alternatives to state hospitals, support for integrated school settings, empowerment for integration in the community, and resources for employment opportunities. These changes were the result of decades of advocacy, commitment, education, and hard work on behalf of parents, professionals, and government leaders.

Reflecting on the 50-year history reminds us all why we take pride in being part of the IRC mission. Countless individuals have formed an incredible legacy, with their passion, dedication, and perseverance, and it is something that is carried forth today to make IRC the epitome of independence, empowerment, and inclusion for the over 45,000 clients we serve in the Inland Empire.

“On November 1, 1988, I began my employment at IRC,” recalls Lavinia Johnson, IRC Executive Director, “today, 35 years later, I continue to feel honored to be serving over 45,000 people with developmental disabilities who live in the communities of Riverside and San Bernardino. Many IRC staff, like myself, are loyal, dedicated, and determined to improve and normalize the lives of our clients. Our work continues to break down the barriers for people whose opportunities are limited in areas of housing, employment, access to medical care, and social inclusion. Although we have many challenges that we will continue to face as we look to the future, we will continue to serve and meet the needs of our clients. We will do this with confidence, gratitude, and the vision of equality for those we serve.”


Enhanced Service Coordination Unit

IRC has been forming a new unit to provide coordination of services at a 1 to 40 Service Coordinator to Client ratio for the underserved communities with low or no Purchase of Services (POS). This unit is called the Enhanced Service Coordination Unit.

The Enhanced Service Coordination Unit at IRC, also known as the 1:40 caseload unit, is available as a service option for our low to no POS clients who live in underserved communities. This unit was created to fulfill the enhanced service coordination mandate from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) which is “intended to improve service access and delivery” by providing clients with “focused support and increased service coordination.” The uniqueness of enhanced service coordination includes the consideration of cultural, linguistic, systemic, and societal barriers and implementation of best practices to reduce such barriers through a service access and equity lens.

Lilliana Garnica is the Enhanced Service Coordination Unit Manager. Lilliana graduated from Ganesha High School in Pomona, CA. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Management, and a Master of Science in Human Services.

Lilliana has started to build a team of dedicated Service Coordinators who will offer case management to the underserved communities with low or no POS, with the goal of identifying and providing needed services. Lilliana said, “The opportunity to be a part of creating the Enhanced Service Coordination Unit is both exciting and humbling. This initiative will provide the possibility to connect with our most vulnerable clients and families by utilizing service access and equity tools that we have collected and learned from because of disparity related efforts. I look forward to building this team and continuing to serve our clients and families with heart and dedication.”


What is Service Access and Equity (SAE)?

SAE is the abbreviation for Service Access and Equity. In past years we used words such as disparity, diversity, and underserved when referring to families that received less services from the regional centers. Today we use SAE along with these terms to highlight the overall goal of ensuring access to services and equity for all clients and their families.


Service Access and Equity (SAE) Efforts  

IRC works diligently to secure supports and services that meet client needs, as specified in the Individual Program Plan (IPP). Services and supports that promote IRC’s core values of independence, inclusion, and empowerment are given the highest priority.

 IRC is mandated by The Lanterman Act, which resulted from advocacy efforts driven by a group of parents seeking change. The Lanterman Act states that “people with developmental disabilities and their families have a right to get the services and supports they need to live like people without disabilities.” Equity and inclusion are at the heart of such efforts. IRC continuously strives to connect with the community and takes pride in creating projects and collaborations to continue working towards equity, inclusion, and cultural proficiency.

Our service access and equity (SAE) efforts are focused on four major areas: clients of Hispanic ethnicity, clients with a primary diagnosis of Autism, clients whose primary language is Spanish, and clients of Black/African American ethnicity. IRC’s SAE efforts are inclusive and available to all families; however, specific projects are culturally and linguistically geared toward closing the disparity gap among underserved populations.

To better serve our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, IRC has hired a new Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) Cultural Specialist. As well, we have created a page for deaf and hard of hearing clients and families on our website.

Deaf and hard of hearing clients and families deserve comprehensive and equitable access to services, programs, and opportunities. IRC strives to implement equity and inclusive efforts to reduce communication barriers and disparities in access experienced by many deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing people. IRC’s D/HH Cultural Specialist works collaboratively with community service providers to address the various needs of the Deaf Community by ensuring their access to and use of services and supports is effective and satisfactory.

IRC’s goal is to provide outreach, advocacy, and support in collaboration with our community to meet the language and communication needs of the deaf-plus clients in gaining meaningful access to employment, education, and community services.


Evaluation of Data

Each fiscal year, regional centers and the DDS gather information on how services and supports are purchased. This information is referred to as Purchase of Service (POS) data. POS data shows how regional centers spent service dollars in five categories: by age, race/ethnicity, primary language, disability, and residence type.

IRC’s experience as related to reducing disparities in POS is different from regional centers across the State of California. We understand that it is important to consider race and ethnicity in the context of services to determine if there are disparities or discrimination. IRC believes in client independence, empowerment, and inclusion, and we make every effort to positively impact our clients’ lives. It is not only our duty, but we are also regulated and assessed by DDS, and as an agency, our intention is to always do more than expected from us.

IRC embodies the principles that help our clients gain greater independence and live a better life on their terms. Thus, when we assess for services, we utilize a person-centered approach, based on the individual’s desire. Race, ethnicity, culture, or geographical location are not used to discriminate but rather to integrate our clients into the decision-making process. For example, based on interactions with parents and local Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), IRC has learned that a vast majority of our adult Hispanic clients prefer to live at home with family members rather than independently. We learned that this is because living at home provides them with the opportunity to remain close to other family members and participate in family interactions as most other members of our population would. Also, living at home provides the additional layer of support they love, and gives the sense of community that the Hispanic population embraces and respects. This particular situation highlights the importance of having open communication channels with our clients, educating them about available services but also about the power they have to choose what is best for them. Our data validates our point, establishing that within our region, POS is not determined based on a particular region, nor the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, or culture, as it is not only against DDS directives and the law, but also against our values.


Cultural Specialist

IRC employs a designated Cultural Specialist who is responsible for the organization of client and community trainings. As well, attends meetings and events as the IRC representative—both in the community and in our own conference center, and is responsible for inquiries and assignments related to family and client services paying close attention to SAE in our system of care. The Cultural Specialist also performs various fact-finding and facilitative services and performs related work as assigned. Furthermore, the Cultural Specialist enhances information dissemination to stakeholders, families, vendors, IRC’s executive team, and staff through analyzing disparity data and hosting community information meetings.

As previously stated, IRC employs a D/HH Cultural Specialist who supports the expansion of deaf service resources, provides training and expertise to regional center staff, and coordinates with DDS on statewide efforts. As well, the D/HH Cultural Specialist performs a wide variety of fact-finding and facilitative services and performs related work as assigned. In addition, the D/HH Cultural Specialist enhances information dissemination to stakeholders, families, vendors, IRC Executive team, and staff through analyzing data and hosting community information meetings.


Information Sharing Process

At IRC, we aim to uphold the highest standards of integrity and transparency in providing services to our clients. Our goal is to connect our clients, their families, and the community with information about how IRC conducts business, share resources, manages funds, while addressing the needs of a diverse population. All marketing materials are culturally sensitive and promote inclusion of all ethnicities, race, and gender.

IRC’s digital communications includes, IRC social media accounts, email publications, and any other communications that are web-based. The purpose of IRC’s digital communication is to promote the mission, message, and brand of IRC to key audiences. These audiences are known collectively as the IRC Community and include clients, their families, vendors, community partners, and media. Brand messaging and promotion is carried out in a way that can be readily adapted to meet diverse and changing needs while providing targeted and user-friendly content. IRC’s digital communication also serves to provide current information to the IRC Community in a manner that is relevant, engaging, and easy to navigate.

The strategic direction of IRC’s digital communication is determined and monitored by IRC’s Community Engagement (CE) Unit. With oversight from IRC’s Director of Community Services, CE manages the content, design, creation, functionality, messaging, and administration of all IRC web-based communications.





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Community Engagement

Inland Regional Center's Community Engagement Unit can be reached at [email protected]

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