Tarjan Frequently Asked Questions

There are two definitions, federal and state, that determine the type of services and eligibility of individuals with developmental disabilities. The state definition known as the Lanterman Disabilities Services Act (W&I Code Sec 4512(a)) defines the term developmental disability as a severe and chronic disability that is attributable to a mental or physical impairment. The disability must begin before the 18th birthday, be expected to continue indefinitely and present a substantial disability. Also, the disability must be due to one of the following conditions:

  • Mental retardation
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • A disabling condition closely related to mental retardation or requiring similar treatment.

The federal definition follows the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act Amendments of 1994 and defines a developmental disability as a severe, chronic disability of an individual 5 years of age or older that:

  • is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments
  • is manifested before the individual attains age 22
  • is likely to continue indefinitely
  • results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency
  • reflects the individual's need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, supports, or other assistance that is of lifelong or extended duration and is individually planned and coordinated, except that such term, when applied to infants and young children means individuals from birth to age 5, inclusive, who have substantial developmental delay or specific congenital or acquired conditions with a high probability of resulting in developmental disabilities if services are not provided.
The Tarjan Center responds to university and community needs through the activities and programs carried out in their core functions: training, technical assistance, service, research, and information sharing. UCEs are dedicated to build the capacity of individuals with developmental disabilities, and to provide community based-training and create resource links for consumers and their family members, service providers, and professionals to have the best information and access to programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities. In addition, the Consumer and Community Advisory Council is another vehicle for the Tarjan Center to work with consumers and community organizations.

The Tarjan Center is one of a network of more than 60 UCEDDs. UCEDD stands for "University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities." The basic concept of UCEDDs was developed in the 1960s under the direction of President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on Mental Retardation and later legislation that evolved from that Commission’s activities. UCEDDs work in partnership with a federal agency, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), that supports a national network of programs.

In California, the State Council on Developmental Disabilities coordinates the plans for services needed in the state; the Protection and Advocacy agencies carry out legal and advocacy services for individuals with disabilities; and the national network of UCEDDs focus on educational and research needs relating to developmental disabilities.

The key components of UCEDD activities and programs is to promote the independence, productivity, and inclusion of all members of our communities. The overall goal of UCEDDs is to be an additional resource to the state’s disabilities network and assist individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve greater independence, have more choices and be more fully included in community settings.

Tarjan Center faculty provide technical assistance to people with disabilities, members of their families, and service providers at the local, state and national level. Faculty members act as consultants to policymakers at all levels. Tarjan Center faculty provide clinical services, training, and community-based programs to consumers, their family members, service providers, and representatives of various private and public organizations. The Tarjan Center provides academic training to undergraduates, graduates, and fellows who represent a wide range of disciplines in fields relating to developmental disabilities. They also work in community-based training projects, such as early intervention, assistive technology, and community services.

Like all UCEDDs, the Tarjan Center is affiliated with a major research university. Through research, Tarjan Center faculty develop, implement, and evaluate new ideas and promising practices in community settings. The research in biological, behavioral, and social sciences provides important new knowledge about human development. Tarjan Center faculty are in a position to collaborate on grants and contract services to organizations who serve individuals with developmental disabilities. Moreover, UCEDDs like the Tarjan Center have a strong commitment to sharing information and research findings with their broad constituency.