Senator Portantino Introduces Bill to Update Definition of a Developmental Disability and Expand Critical Services to Young Disabled Californians

Jennifer E. Engen

 

State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) introduced Senate Bill 870, a measure which increases the “age of onset” definition of a developmental disability to 22 years of age and expands supportive services and programs to ages 18-21 for individuals with developmental disabilities. Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R – Santa Clarita) is a joint author of the measure.

“It has long been established that brain development continues beyond 18 years of age and California should appropriately update the age of onset definition to 22 years of age in order to protect those developmentally disabled individuals who need supportive services,” stated Senator Portantino. “The outdated definition has denied young disabled Californians critical support services and medically necessary programs for far too long and SB 870 aims to fix that.”

Unanimous findings of countless scientific studies, most notably by the National Institute of Health, has long established the medical fact that the brain does not complete its development at age 18, but continues to at least the age of 22. In 1978, the federal government changed its “age of on-set” definition of developmental disability to age 22 in 1978, and 38 states followed by raising their “age of onset” threshold to age 22 as well.

“California law has not kept up with the science. Science tells us the brain continues to develop at least until a person is 22 years of age and our laws should match the science. Anything less is a disservice to the young people needing services. For 40 years, the federal government has used age 22 for its threshold. It is time for California to join 38 other states and get this right,” said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R – Santa Clarita), joint author of SB 870.

California is one of only 12 states still 44 years behind on this issue. As a result, many young disabled Californians are being unfairly excluded from regional center support services, thereby increasing their suffering, reducing their potential levels of self-sufficiency, and ultimately increasing costs to the state in the long run.

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Senator Portantino Introduces Bill to Update Definition of a Developmental Disability and Expand Critical Services to Young Disabled Californians

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