Supported Decision-Making Technical Assistance Program (SDM-TAP)

Supported Decision-Making (SDM) is a way to help people who might have trouble making decisions on their own. This can include people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, people with dementia, or anyone else who might need a bit of extra help understanding their options and making informed choices. SDM is a process that respects people’s rights and dignity, promotes independence, and prevents abuse or exploitation.  

In California law, SDM allows individuals to choose supporters who have a legal right to be part of the individual’s decision-making process. They can choose trusted people, like family members, friends, or other community members to be their supporters. Individuals have the legal right for chosen supporters to be present in meetings where decision making takes place, including Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings, legal hearings, and medical appointments.  

These supporters help the individual understand information, weigh the pros and cons, and communicate their decisions to others. The key point is that the final decision is always in the hands of the individual, not the supporter. The supporter’s role is to assist, not to decide. SDM, in California law, allows an individual to retain ALL their personal rights and autonomy while ensuring that they have trusted supporters advising them. 

For more information, you can find the SDM law here.
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For more information, please view additional SDM-TAP pages below:

What is the Supported Decision-Making Technical Assistance Program (SDM-TAP)? 

SDM-TAP is a statewide resource for people seeking information about SDM. It provides support, education, guidance, assistance and training to educational entities, families, service providers, professionals, people with disabilities, courts, attorneys, mediators, and others in California who wish to use or expand supported decision making in their professional or personal life. Special attention will focus on communities that have been historically underserved, including speakers of languages other than English, as well as immigrant, native, and rural populations. The program also includes a grant program designed to promote and implement SDM throughout California as a legal framework that can be an alternative to conservatorship. The SDM-TAP is administered by the State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) in close partnership with Disability Rights California (DRC) and the UC Davis MIND Institute. 

The History of AB 1663 (2022) 

AB 1663, The Probate Conservatorship Reform and Supported Decision-Making Act, was a crucial step forward in improving how we support those who need help in making decisions. This groundbreaking law focused on reforming California’s limited conservatorship system and promoting alternatives like SDM. Seizing this moment, a broad coalition of disability rights and aging activists and allies (including American Civil Liberties Union, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Coalition for Elder & Disability Rights, Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Disability Voices United, Free Britney L.A., and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities) worked with Assembly Member Maienschein on legislation that ensures people maintain choice and control over their lives.