Advocating for California’s Regional Center System: Why Meeting Your Legislative Leaders Matters

Dr. CJ Cook, DBABlog

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

In California, the Regional Center System is vital in providing essential services and support for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. However, navigating the budgetary concerns and ensuring adequate funding for these services can be challenging. One crucial way to address these concerns is by actively engaging with legislative leaders. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of meeting with your legislative representatives and provide guidance on locating and connecting with them.

Understanding the Regional Center System: Before diving into the importance of meeting with legislative leaders, it’s essential to understand the significance of the Regional Center System. Established under the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, regional centers are nonprofit private corporations that contract with the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to provide services and support to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. These services range from early intervention and education to housing and employment assistance.

Challenges in Budgeting: Despite the critical role they play, regional centers often face budgetary challenges that can impact the quality and availability of services. Fluctuations in state funding, rising costs of care, and increasing demand for services create a complex landscape for budgeting. Without adequate funding, regional centers may struggle to meet the needs of their clients, leading to gaps in care and support.

Importance of Meeting Legislative Leaders: Meeting with legislative leaders is a proactive way to address these budgetary concerns and advocate for the needs of individuals served by the Regional Center System. Here’s why it matters:

  1. Representation: Legislative leaders are elected to represent the interests of their constituents. By meeting with them, you have the opportunity to voice your concerns and ensure that the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities are heard and understood.
  2. Influence: Legislative leaders have the power to shape policy and allocate funding. By building relationships with them and sharing your experiences and insights, you can influence decision-making processes and advocate for increased support for the Regional Center System.
  3. Awareness: Meeting with legislative leaders raises awareness about the challenges faced by regional centers and the individuals they serve. It helps lawmakers understand the importance of prioritizing funding for developmental disability services and encourages them to take action.
  4. Collaboration: Engaging with legislative leaders fosters collaboration between stakeholders, including policymakers, advocates, and community members. By working together, we can develop innovative solutions to address budgetary challenges and improve the quality of care for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The importance of individuals with disabilities attending meetings with lawmakers to share their lived experiences cannot be overstated. These individuals offer invaluable insight into the daily challenges they face, the impact of policies on their lives, and the effectiveness of existing support systems. By actively participating in these meetings, individuals with disabilities humanize policy discussions, putting a face to the issues at hand and highlighting the urgent need for meaningful change. Their firsthand accounts provide lawmakers with a deeper understanding of the realities of living with a disability, helping to shape more inclusive and responsive legislation. Additionally, empowering individuals with disabilities to engage directly with lawmakers fosters a sense of agency and ownership over the decisions that affect their lives, promoting greater inclusivity and representation in the democratic process.

Locating Assembly Members and State Senators: Finding and connecting with your legislative representatives is easier than you might think. Here’s how you can locate your assembly members and state senators:

  1. Use Online Resources: Websites such as the California State Assembly and California State Senate provide tools to help you find your representatives based on your address. Simply enter your location, and you’ll be provided with contact information for your assembly member and state senator.

Find Address (

  1. Contact Local Offices: Assembly members and state senators often have local offices in their districts. You can reach out to these offices via phone or email to schedule a meeting or express your concerns.
  2. Attend Town Hall Meetings and Events: Legislative leaders frequently host town hall meetings and community events where constituents can engage with them directly. Keep an eye out for these opportunities to connect with your representatives in person.

Let’s Talk: Community Forum | Official Website – Assemblymember Corey A. Jackson Representing the 60th California Assembly District (

  1. Utilize Social Media: Many legislative leaders are active on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Following them on these platforms allows you to stay informed about their work and communicate with them directly.

Advocating for adequate funding for the Regional Center System is crucial to ensuring that individuals with developmental disabilities receive the support and services they need to thrive. Meeting with legislative leaders provides a platform to voice concerns, influence policy decisions, and work collaboratively toward positive change. By actively engaging with our elected representatives, we can make a difference in the lives of those who rely on the Regional Center System for care and support.


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Dr. CJ Cook, DBA

As Program Administrator, CJ is responsible for the proactive oversight of various units within IRC, including Community Management, Service Access and Equity, and Training and Development. CJ's oversight extends to Language Access and Cultural Competency (LACC), Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), equity in the Purchase of Service (POS), and the National Core Indicator (NCI) project. Furthermore, CJ is tasked with managing the IRC's Performance Contract with DDS and overseeing Emergency Services.

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