After your Person-Centered Plan (PCP) is completed, you will forward a copy of it to your Regional Center, and confirm your satisfaction with the plan. At that point, a budget will start to be developed; the budget is the amount of money that you will have to spend over a 12 month period in Self-Determination, and it starts with the amount of money spent on your services in the previous 12 months, with additions and subtractions made for “unmet needs” (services or needs in your previous Individual Program Plan (IPP) that you didn’t receive assistance with) or “changes in circumstance” (meaning that life has changed, and so have your needs.)
If you would like an estimate of how many funds were spent on your services in the past 12 months before your PCP is completed, you can email SelfDetermination@sclarc.org with the participant’s name and date of birth. The report will be sent via secured, HIPAA-protected, email that can only be read on a computer (not on a phone or a tablet.) Please note that this is not a certified budget, but rather an estimate to allow you to begin to plan, but SCLARC does not promise the same amount of funding will be included in the more final budget that is presented after receiving the Person-Centered Plan and reviewing it. Specifically, the budget may be higher or lower at that time, depending on unmet needs/changes in circumstances. Budgets are not considered certified by SCLARC until they are signed by the participant/legal representative indicating agreement and a SCLARC Representative.
You will have a budget meeting with the Regional Center after you confirm your satisfaction with the PCP. At that meeting, which may take between 30 minutes to 2 hours, and will be scheduled at your convenience, you will discuss your needs and your PCP, as well as the budget. Self-Determination is required to be cost-neutral when compared to traditional services, so the budget will reflect the same cost of services you would have spent, regardless of your participation in Self-Determination. You will receive a copy of all documents discussed at the budget meeting after the meeting. If you agree with the budget, you will sign and date it to “certify” it and return a copy to the Regional Center. Keep in mind that, in Self-Determination, the participant retains the same rights as in the traditional service delivery system, including the right to the IPP process, and Appeals process, so if you do not agree with any decisions made by the Regional Center during the budgeting development process, you will be able to present your case to a judge.
Once you have your budget, you will need to determine how you will spend your funds and document this on a spending plan. You can work with your Independent Facilitator, Person-Centered Planner, and/or Financial Management Service (FMS) to complete this document. All of your services must be on the list of approved services from the federal government, and you still must utilize generic resources first. When you submit your spending plan to the Regional Center, the Regional Center will review it and provide you with feedback. Once you and the Regional Center agree to the Spending Plan, you will sign and date it to “certify” it and return a copy to the Regional Center. A spending plan that everyone agrees on must be in place no later than the 15th day of the month in order for Self-Determination services to start on the 1st day of the following month, and Self-Determination services only start on the first of the month; for example, if you hope to start Self-Determination on August 1st, you and the Regional Center must have agreed on your spending plan no later than July 15th.
Financial Management Services
Every participant in the Self-Determination Program is required to have a Financial Management Service (FMS). This is the only vendored service a participant must have. Effective July 1, 2022, the cost of the FMS provider will be paid by the regional center outside of the participant’s individual budget. The FMS assists participants with payroll for employees, paying for services, budgeting, and ensuring that applicable employment laws are followed, among other tasks.
- There are three kinds of ways that a participant may interact with their FMS. You can choose any, or a combination, of the models, depending on your needs.
- Bill payer – The FMS and participant do not have any employer/employee relationship, and the FMS writes checks. This might be if someone takes a class or purchases disposable undergarments.
- Co-Employer – The FMS and the participant share the employer/employee relationship and responsibilities, with the FMS responsible for applicable insurances, liability, etc., and the participant able to retain the ability to hire and fire their own staff.
- Sole Employer – The participant has the responsibility of the employer, including the cost of all necessary insurances and liability, while the FMS assists with payroll and ensuring that employment laws are followed.
- A list of FMS providers can be found at www.dds.ca.gov/initiatives/sdp/financial-management-service-contact-list/; some questions you might ask can be found here (English) and here (Spanish).