(a) Each consumer or any representative acting on behalf of any consumer or consumers, who believes that any right to which a consumer is entitled has been abused, punitively withheld, or improperly or unreasonably denied by a regional center, developmental center, or service provider, may pursue a complaint as provided in this section.
(b) Initial referral of any complaint taken pursuant to this section shall be to the director of the regional center from which the consumer receives case management services. If the consumer resides in a state developmental center, the complaint shall be made to the director of that state developmental center. The director shall, within 20 working days of receiving a complaint, investigate the complaint and send a written proposed resolution to the complainant and, if applicable, to the service provider. The written proposed resolution shall include a telephone number and mailing address for referring the proposed resolution in accordance with subdivision (c).
(c) If the complainant is not satisfied with the proposed resolution, the complainant may refer the complaint, in writing, to the Director of Developmental Services within 15 working days of receipt of the proposed resolution. The director shall, within 45 days of receiving a complaint, issue a written administrative decision and send a copy of the decision to the complainant, the director of the regional center or state developmental center, and the service provider, if applicable. If there is no referral to the department, the proposed resolution shall become effective on the 20th working day following receipt by the complainant.
(d) The department shall annually compile the number of complaints filed, by each regional center and state developmental center catchment area, the subject matter of each complaint, and a summary of each decision. Copies shall be made available to any person upon request.
(e) This section 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 this division, 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 this division or in regulations.
(f) All consumers or, where appropriate, their parents, legal guardian, conservator, or authorized representative, shall be notified in writing in a language which they comprehend, of the right to file a complaint pursuant to this section when they apply for services from a regional center or are admitted to a developmental center, and at each regularly scheduled planning meeting.
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