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Budget and Policy Post
November 6, 2023

The 2023-24 California Spending Plan

Human Services

Department of Developmental Services (DDS)

Overview. The spending plan provides $14.1 billion from all fund sources for DDS, an increase of 14.6 percent over revised 2022-23 expenditures ($12.3 billion). Of the total 2023-24 DDS budget, $13.6 billion is for the regional center (RC) system, $341 million is for the state-operated facilities program, and $158 million is for DDS headquarters staff and activities.

The General Fund—which comprises 61 percent of the total DDS budget—provides $8.5 billion in 2023-24, up $1.5 billion, or 21 percent, over revised 2022-23 General Fund expenditures ($7.1 billion). While General Fund spending is increasing by $1.8 billion for the RC system and by $7.4 million for DDS headquarters, General Fund spending for state-operated facilities is essentially flat across the two years.

Nearly all of the growth in General Fund spending is due to a combination of caseload growth, changes in service utilization, costs associated with scheduled increases to the state minimum wage, and previously scheduled increases to service provider rates. A relatively small proportion of year-over-year General Fund growth is the result of a number of new or expanded activities, some of which are discussed in greater detail below.

Projects Caseload to Continue Growing Rapidly. The spending plan assumes that RCs will serve 420,927 individuals in 2023-24 (61,647 infants and toddlers under age three and 359,280 “consumers” [the term used in statute] ages three and older), up 6.2 percent from 2022-23. This growth assumption is roughly in line with pre-pandemic trends (the pandemic produced a seemingly temporary decrease in new entrants to DDS). The spending plan assumes that state-operated residential and community facilities will serve 312 individuals in 2023-24, ten fewer than in 2022-23.

Expands Safety Net Services for Individuals With Especially Complex Needs. The spending plan includes a total of $28.7 million total funds ($22.1 million General Fund) to expand services for individuals with especially complex needs, such as co-occurring diagnoses of developmental disabilities and mental health disorders. Many of these individuals were previously served in the state’s Developmental Centers, which have largely been shut down. This funding includes $15.9 million ($9.8 million General Fund) one time to convert some facilities to a higher level of intensity and $1.6 million ($1.1 million General Fund) ongoing to better support foster children in DDS.

Delays Implementation of Preschool Inclusion Grants by Two Years. The 2022-23 budget package included $20 million General Fund over two years for grants to help preschool programs include more children with exceptional needs. The spending plan delays the implementation of this program until 2024-25.

Increases Provider Rates for Independent Living Services. The 2021-22 spending plan initiated a multiyear plan to phase in a new provider rate model based on a 2020 state-commissioned study. Under this study, independent living services were assumed to have staffing costs equivalent to supported living services, despite the former being a much more intensive service model. The spending plan corrects this assumption, providing $15 million ($8.5 million General Fund) in 2023-24 and $60 million ($34 million General Fund) ongoing to increase service provider rates for independent living services.