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In this on-demand masterclass, Eric will guide you through:

1. How to pick a single, impactful goal

2. Create an actionable plan

3. Build the habits and skills you need to succeed

With real-life examples, practical tools, and guaranteed progress for committed individuals, this session is your first step towards a more organized life.

How to know if a self-determination program (SDP) is right for you

You may be wondering:

What is a self-determination program?

Am I eligible for a self-determination plan?

How does a self-determination program work?

Keep reading to have all these questions answered, and more!

What is a self-determination program (SDP)?

A self-determination plan (SDP) is an alternative to traditional spending plans with Regional Centers.

It is a voluntary program that allows clients and their families to determine which services and vendors best meet their individual needs, rather than only through those vendors with whom the Regional Center has contracts.

Individuals create a person-centered spending plan identifying the services and items they will use.

The spending plan outlines the cost of these services and items as well as the providers the individual wants to use.

Spending plans cannot exceed a client’s predetermined budget.

How does an SDP work?

Clients can create their own budget or work with an independent facilitator to help them develop a spending plan.

Then, they work with a financial management system to set up payments to the various vendors they use for different activities.

What is an independent facilitator?

An independent facilitator assists in identifying immediate and long-‐term needs, developing options to meet those needs, leading, participating, or advocating on behalf of the participant in the person-‐centered self-determination plan.

Working with an independent facilitator is voluntary for self-determination participants.

If you choose to have an independent facilitator, this person can assist you with navigating services, choosing providers, and advise you on other tasks you may need to complete in the process of establishing your self-determination plan.

What is a financial management system (FMS)?

A financial management system is required for self-determination plans.

Individuals participating in a self-determination plan must use an FMS provider.

The financial management system provider helps individuals participating in a self-determination plan manage their budget and spending plan.

Using these plans, a financial management system pays for the services and supports selected by the participant. The FMS will provide a monthly report of spending.

The role of an FMS is to:

  • Help manage the budget and pay for services

  • Assist with hiring employees

  • Make sure providers are qualified to deliver services

  • And help providers get a criminal background check, if needed.

It is important that individuals feel comfortable with their chosen financial management system.

A financial management system does not control the participant’s budget.

What is person-centered planning?

Person-centered planning focuses on an individual’s future.

The process should be guided by the individual, allowing them to include what is important to and for them to reach their goals.

Person-centered planning can include input from family or friends, but only if the individual wants to include them.

The individual choices decided through person-centered planning are about what the participant wants and needs, and what services and supports will help them reach their goals.

What are the benefits of an SDP?

This program is designed to give clients and their families freedom of choice as well as responsibility for decision-making and authority to control a budget.

An SDP allows them to live with the services and supports on which they rely such as:

The personalized plan identifies the services to be purchased, how often those services will be provided, and the cost for the services.

Who is eligible?

You or your family member must:

  • Have a developmental disability;

  • Currently be receiving regional center services;

  • Live at home, in the community, or in a group home;

  • Be a responsible participant.

What are my responsibilities?

  1. Go through orientation and training.

  2. Develop a person-centered plan.

  3. Select an Independent Facilitator or other individual to help implement that plan.

  4. Choose a Financial Management System to monitor the budget.

  5. Oversee the staff and agencies that are hired or provide support and services.

  6. Make sure expenses stay within the budget

How do I enroll in a self-determination program?

First, contact your Regional Center service coordinator and let them know of your interest.

Second, attend an SDP orientation. In addition to the orientation, more in-depth training sessions are available through the State Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Third, choose your independent facilitator and set a meeting. This person is well-versed in the self-determination program and can answer your questions as well as provide information for you to get started with your plan.

Finally, remember that all participants in an SDP must have a financial management system provider. Your independent facilitator may be able to recommend a few FMS for you to consider.


The Self-Determination Program (SDP) empowers individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to customize their support services.

This person-centered approach allows them to create spending plans, select service providers, and manage budgets, promoting autonomy and choice.

Unlike traditional Regional Center plans, the SDP focuses on individual needs, fostering independence and control.

It reflects the spirit of self-determination, enabling individuals to shape their lives within budgetary constraints while receiving essential support.

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About the Author

Donna Kaufmann holds a Master’s in Library and Information Sciences. She is currently a retired school library teacher and enjoys volunteering whenever she can reach children through books and reading. Living on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, she finds time to walk her dog, Bodhi; renew her love of knitting, reading and gardening; and is active in a variety of women’s groups and charitable organizations.

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Upskill Specialists was founded when two former special education teachers turned executive function coaches decided that adults need tools and coaching to improve their workplace skills and feel confident and empowered. Our mission is to ensure every adult with EF challenges has access to high-quality coaching services. 

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