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Dear SCLARC Service Provider,

South Central Los Angeles Regional, in response to The Joint Legislative Audit Committee and in conjunction with the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) request that regional centers make sure ALL vendors be made aware of their rights when filing complaints, is sending this letter which details the process. Per DDS, Regional Center or Vendor/Contractor Whistleblower complaints are defined as the reporting of an "improper regional center or vendor/contractor activity." An "improper vendor/contractor activity" means an activity by a vendor/contractor, or an employee, officer, or board member of a vendor/contractor, in the provision of DDS funded services, that is a violation of a state or federal law or regulation; violation of contract provisions; fraud or fiscal malfeasance; misuse of government property; or constitutes gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency.

The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has a variety of complaint and appeal processes available to vendors/contractors, agencies, facilities, parents, and consumers. These include Consumer Rights Complaints; Early Start Complaints, Due Process Requests, and Mediation Conference Requests; Lanterman Act Fair Hearing Requests; Title 17 Complaints; and Citizen Complaints and Comments. Each of these complaint and appeal processes can be found on the Department of Developmental Services website and have separate and distinct procedures for resolution. This process directive relates only to the Regional Center of Vendor/Contractor Whistleblower complaints as described above.

DDS will do everything possible to maintain the confidentiality of a complainant making a whistleblower complaint if the complainant requests confidentiality. However, in the rare circumstances where DDS is unable to maintain confidentiality due to its statutory responsibilities (including ensuring the health and safety of consumers and regional center contract compliance), the Department will attempt to inform the complainant of its need to disclose certain information prior to releasing identifying information. Additionally, the identity of the complainant may be revealed to appropriate law enforcement agencies conducting a criminal investigation.

DDS will need a clear and concise statement of the improper activity and any evidence you have to support the allegation. If you do not provide a name or other information (witnesses or documents) that clearly identifies the person you are alleging has acted improperly, and the regional center or vendor/contractor where that person works, the Department of Developmental Services may not have sufficient information to investigate. Copies of documents, rather than originals, should be submitted, as they cannot be returned. Although complaints may be filed anonymously, if insufficient information is provided and the Department has no means to contact your, they may not be able to investigate your allegations.

Purpose

This policy is established to ensure that clients, families, service providers, agencies, community members, and regional center staff can in good faith report suspicions, concerns, or evidence of illegal, unethical or other inappropriate activity without fear of retaliation.

Policy

Definition of Regional Center or Vendor/Contractor Whistleblower Complaints:
Regional Center or Vendor/Contractor Whistleblower complaints are defined as the reporting of an "improper regional center or vendor/contractor activity".

An "improper regional center activity" means an activity by a regional center or an employee, officer, or board member of a regional center, in the conduct of regional center business, that is in a violation of a state or federal law or regulation; violation of contract provisions; fraud or fiscal malfeasance; misuse of government property; or constitutes gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency.
An "improper vendor/contractor activity" means an activity by a vendor/contractor or an employee, officer, or board member of a vendor/contractor, in the provision of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) funded services, that is in a violation of the state or federal law or regulation; violation of contract provisions; fraud or fiscal malfeasance; misuse of government property; or constitutes gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency.

Filing Complaints

SCLARC has a variety of complaint and appeal processes available to clients, families, service providers, agencies, community members, and SCLARC staff. These include Client Rights Complaints; Early Start Complaints, Due Process Requests, and Mediation Conference Requests; Lanterman Act Fair Hearing Requests; Title 17 Complaints; Citizen Complaints, and Comments (Click Here for list). Each of these complaint and appeal processes has separate and distinct procedures for resolution.

This process relates only to the Regional Center or Vendor/Contractor Whistleblower complaints as described above. This Whistleblower Policy shall not be used to resolve disputes concerning the nature, scope, or amount of services and supports that should be included in an individual program plan, for which there is an appeal procedure established in the Lanterman Act, or disputes regarding rates or audit appeals for which there is an appeal procedure established in regulations. Those disputes shall be resolved through the appeals procedure established by the Lanterman Act or in regulations.

Complaints maybe filed with SCLARC staff by contacting:

Executive Director - South Central Los Angeles Regional Center
650 W. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

dexterh@sclarc.org
Phone: 213-744-8412

Director, Community Services
marshamb@sclarc.org
Phone: 213-743-3061,
Fax 213-744-8494

Chief, Community Services
kimb@sclarc.org
Phone: 213-744-8452

Human Resources Director
jamesf@sclarc.org
213-744-8425

Fair Hearing Manager
johannaa@sclarc.org
213-744-8415

Complaints may also be filed with DDS by contacting:

Community Operations Division
Phone: 916-654-1958
Fax: 916-654-1987
1600 9th Street, Room 320, MS3-9
Sacramento, Ca 95814

Community Services and Supports Division (for Early Start Program Services)
Phone: 916-654-2716
Fax: 916-654-3020
1600 9th Street, Room 340, MS 3-24
Sacramento, CA 95814

No retaliation

No individual who in good faith reports a violation of the law shall suffer harassment, retaliation or adverse consequence. A SCLARC staff member who retaliates against someone who has reported a violation in good faith is subject to discipline up to and including immediate termination of employment. This Whistleblower Policy is intended to encourage and enable clients; families, service providers, agencies, community members, and SCLARC staff to report serious concerns within SCLARC prior to seeking resolution outside of the agency.

Process of Investigation

A Regional Center or Vendor/Contractor Whistleblower complaint may be received by anyone listed in sections #1 via phone, fax, e-mail, letter, or in person. The recipient of the complaint should obtain sufficient information from the complainant to refer the complainant to the appropriate person or division for review and resolution. If the complaint is verbal, the recipient of the complaint should document the information provided by the complaint, including the complainant's name (if provided); contact information, the nature of the complaint, who or what the complaint is regarding; the names of the possible witnesses; and the date and time the complaint was received. The person who received the complaint should also be noted in the referral to the appropriate person or division. All reports will be promptly investigated and appropriate corrective action will be taken if the complaint is not anonymous. This information will be provided to the extent that it does not breach any confidentiality. This investigation process also applies to complaints of retaliation.

Confidentiality

SCLARC will do everything possible to maintain the confidentiality of a complainant making a whistleblower complaint if the complainant requests confidentiality. However, in the rare circumstances where SCLARC is unable to maintain confidentiality due to its statutory responsibilities (including ensuring the health and safety of clients and regional center contract compliance), SCLARC will attempt to inform the complainant of its need to disclose certain information prior to releasing identifying information. Additionally, the identity of the complainant may be revealed to appropriate law enforcement agencies conducting a criminal investigation. All mandatory abuse reporting requirements will remain in effect as an exception to confidentiality.

Notification of Whistle Blower Policy

SCLARC will notify employees, board members, clients, families, and vendor communities of both SCLARC's and the State's Whistleblower policy within 30 days of SCLARC's effective date and annually thereafter by the following manner:

Employees will receive an initial e-mail with attachments of the policies. Subsequently, employees will be reminded of the policy existence at the time they sign their annual performance evaluation policy review statement.
Board Members will receive copies of the policies in their Board Packets.
Clients and families will receive a hard copy by mail in their annual Services Cost Statement.
The vendor community will receive copies in their invoices. Copies will also be distributed at the Vendor Advisory Committee Meeting.
 
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