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Advocacy Director’s Report

June 22, 2013 Report

This report represents a summary of the work Disability Rights California (DRC) advocacy programs and projects reported through March 31, 2013; some activities on the legislative and press front may be more current. I would like to thank those who provided the material to make this report possible.



Media Coverage: Sonoma Developmental Center Abuse, Lack of Affordable Housing, Forced Care for People with Psychiatric Disabilities, and Settlement of our IHSS Case

In December 2012 Reuters, the Los Angeles Times and several local radio and TV stations covered a reporter's investigations of abuse at the Sonoma Developmental Center. The majority of the stories included quotes from us about bills we are working on to change the way abuse is reported, as well as our recommendations to reduce abuse of people living in institutions, where Leslie Morrison, DRC staff, pointed out, "residents are among the most isolated in our society."

In February the San Diego City Beat published a feature on the problems of finding Section 8 housing, especially as the cycle of poverty deepens in California.  The story included information about one of our cases – a woman denied housing when a landlord told our client she did not wish to rent to people with disabilities, especially emotional ones.

The California Bar Journal reported on the state's shrinking support for legal services needed by poor people. DRC's executive director, Catherine Blakemore was quoted: "Since 2008 the number of Californians living in poverty increased 25%, while funding for legal services has dropped precipitously." She reported on a case which saved resources by helping two brothers facing foreclosure fix their problems without going to court.

Following the Connecticut school shootings at the end of the year, there was a spate of media coverage calling for increased and usually mandatory treatment of people with psychiatric disabilities, with an emphasis on reaching youth before crises developed. A multiple-page feature in the Sacramento Bee advocating coercive treatment spurred the response of two DRC Board members, Izetta Jackson and Leslie Napper. Their January 27 op-ed in the Sacramento Bee was entitled, "Forced mental health services drive people away" and gave examples of effective outreach to youth.

On March 19 the Los Angeles Times reported on the major settlement worked out by the Brown administration, unions and disability advocates to avoid deep cuts in home supportive services (IHSS) for people with disabilities.  DRC’s lead counsel, Melinda Bird, commented that "the looming cloud of huge cuts is gone," and the named plaintiff, David Oster, explained that he could now stop worrying about how he was going to keep his apartment without the services he depended upon.

Communications Goals: Goal 2
DRC Staff: Leslie Morrison, Catherine Blakemore, Ann Menasche, Melinda Bird, Barbara Duncan
Grant/Funding Source(s): Equal Access, Trust Fund


Press Releases Highlight DRC Cases, Release of New Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) Regulations and the First State Budget in Years without Severe Cuts to Services and Programs for People with Disabilities

One purpose of our press releases over the last six months was to provide in-depth information about our lawsuits, particularly in December concerning the Pablo Carranza case, exposing a state policy reducing home-based nursing hours simply because a youth reached adulthood; as well as the March settlement of a long fought class action case, filed in 2009 to challenge the state's plan to make devastating cuts in IHSS service hours of hundreds of thousands of Californians.

Other press releases were issued on January 8 to publicize new FEHA regulations that we helped develop; and on January 10 to detail the Governor’s proposed budget affecting people with disabilities, with commentary by DRC legislative staff. For the most part, we reported that the proposed budget introduced fewer cuts to disability services and programs.

Communications Goals: Goal 2
DRC Staff: Melinda Bird, Maria Iriarte, Debra Marley, Dara Schur, Deborah Doctor, Evelyn Abouhassan
Grant/Funding Source(s): Equal Access, Trust Fund, PAIMI, PAVA, PADD


Work on Upgrading the Web Homepage, Facebook, Launch of Twitter and Updated Program Brochures

Our website homepage was redesigned and graphically updated to transform the homepage into a tool linking the public with most of our services, programs and priorities. We have received positive commentary, from readers and individuals who responded to the website survey located on the homepage.

As soon as we launched the new homepage, we increased announcements on Facebook and started a video of the week to attract new readers. We are reviewing Google statistics to gauge our success. In the meantime, we have begun using Twitter to announce DRC news and publications.

Updates to Peer/Self Advocacy program brochure and DRC agency brochure are complete and in the process of being translated and printed.

Communications Goals: Goal 2; Goal 3 Objectives a and b
DRC Staff:  Margaret Johnson, Catherine Blakemore, Barbara Duncan, contract graphic designer Hizuru Cruz, Adam Borovkoff, Diana Duffy
Grant/Funding Source(s): Trust Fund, Equal Access



NOTE: Legislative activities are current at the time this report is prepared, however, the legislature moves quickly and things can change overnight. For the most current information about legislative activities reported here, check our home page and legislative website: and

Sponsored Bills

SB 555 (Correa):  This sponsored bill requires Department of Developmental Services ( DDS) and regional centers to provide clear, culturally and linguistically appropriate, easily understandable information about regional center eligibility, services, supports and rights, in the threshold languages for the regional center catchment area. The bill also requires that the consumer’s Individualized Program Plan (IPP)/Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) and other documents be provided in the individual’s native language. The bill moved out of the Senate Human Services Committee with a unanimous vote.  Subsequently, we met with Senate Appropriations staff about the bill, it was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 29, 2013, and placed on the suspense file because the analysis indicated significant costs.  We met with Senator’s Steinberg’s staff and the author’s office to discuss strategies and amendments to move the bill from the suspense file.  The bill has passed Senate and is now in the Assembly waiting assignment to a policy committee.

SB 468 (Emmerson, Beall): DRC and the Autism Society of Los Angeles are co-sponsoring SB 468, which expands the availability of the self determination pilot program that began in 1998, is currently available at only five regional centers and serves about 180 consumers. SB 468 allows for voluntary participation in the project while ensuring that it is available to all consumers regardless of geographic location, economic or educational background, race or ethnicity, and ensures a consistent state-wide administration and comparable services. In the first three years, the self determination project will be available for up to 2,500 consumers and their families. Due to budget constraints, the services provided in the projects will continue to be cost neutral in the aggregate.

We amended the bill to include language which, among other things, clarifies participant eligibility requirements and allows participants in the program flexibility to access regional center services that were restricted or suspended during the 2009 to 2011 budget cycles.  Amendments also require DDS to consult with stakeholders to develop a methodology for individual budgets that are computed in a fair, transparent, and equitable manner based on consumer characteristics and needs; this allows a method for adjusting individual budgets to address participant’s unanticipated needs. Amendments also require DDS to apply for Medicaid funding to administer the program by applying for a state plan amendment(s), amendment(s) to current home and community-based waiver(s) for individuals with developmental disabilities, for a new waiver, or by seeking to maximize federal financial participation. The bill was heard in the Senate Human Services Committee on April 23, 2013, and passed with a unanimous vote.

We also met with appropriations staff to discuss the fiscal issues in the measure.  We developed a fact sheet about how the bill will save money, draw down additional federal dollars to fund the services in the expanded program and increase flexibility and choice for program participants. We are working with the authors’ offices to ensure that the bill continues to move.  The bill has passed Senate and is now in the Assembly waiting assignment to a policy committee.

SB 319 and SB 321 (Price):  DRC Board Legislative Committee approved DRC’s co-sponsorship of these measures at our meeting on April 26, 2013.  Our co-sponsors are Public Counsel Law Center and Special Needs Network, both non-profits located in Southern California.  

SB 319 requires DDS to provide biannual updates to the public on their progress in meeting the requirements of Section 4519.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. Through our advocacy, Section 4519.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code was adopted in Budget Trailer Bill last year and requires regional centers and DDS to collaborate annually to compile and report data relating to purchase of service authorization, utilization, and expenditure by each regional center with respect to key categories, including: age, race/ethnicity, primary language, and disability detail.  It also requires regional centers to report the number of individuals by those categories who are regional center clients but who receive no purchase of service funds.  Regional centers are then required to meet with local stakeholders to discuss the data. The data was recently released. SB 319 requires DDS to ensure that regional centers collect, analyze, and report this data using uniform methodology and procedures that allow for comparisons across regional centers.  Each regional center, starting December 31, 2014, and each December 31 thereafter, would also be required to develop an annual report relating to whether the data indicates a need to reduce disparities, and if so, the regional center’s recommendations and plans to reduce the disparities.  Finally, the bill requires DDS’ web portal to include the regional centers’ annual reports developed and posted by the regional centers pursuant to these provisions.

SB 321 requires DDS to establish performance contract guidelines and measures relating to issues of cultural and linguistic competence and requires DDS to monitor each regional center’s performance objectives for compliance with the guidelines and measures DDS establishes. The bill requires the annual performance objectives, among other things, to be designed to develop culturally and linguistically appropriate services and supports.  Additionally, SB 321 requires DDS, beginning July 1, 2014, to specify in the performance contract any areas that require improvement by a regional center to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

Both of these measures were heard and passed the Senate Human Services Committee on April 9, 2013.  We have been working with our co-sponsors on the measures providing technical assistance.  We have drafted letters in support of both bills and testified in support at legislative hearings.  The bills were heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 29, 2013, and placed on the suspense file. The bills did not make it off suspense.

SB 550 (Jackson): SB 550’s purpose is to increase the supply of affordable accessible housing for people with disabilities including seniors. To do this, it directs the California Building Standards Commission to adopt standards requiring public housing – housing built with specified sources of public money – include at least 10% (no less than 1) units which are fully accessible for people with mobility disabilities and 4% (no less than 1) units which are fully accessible by people with vision or hearing disabilities.

It also directs the Department of Housing and Community Development to adopt regulations which give priority for accessible units to persons with disabilities who need the access features in housing projects that have received a department loan or grant and have accessible units.

We have documented the need for more accessible housing through data on the income levels of people with disabilities overall, specific data on the income of California households which include people who use mobility devices, and estimates of the number of people with visual or hearing impairments in California. Operators and managers of publicly-funded housing report they do not give priority to people who need accessible units, despite federal law requiring this for 25 years in federally funded housing.  SB 550 confirms priority is required when state funds are used.

We agreed to amendments to SB 550; we are still negotiating with the non-profit housing developers, the private housing construction industry and apartment owners, in hopes that they will come to support the bill. SB 550 was heard in Senate Appropriations on May 20 and was put in the suspense file. Unfortunately the bill did not make it off suspense.  We are looking into alternatives for pursuing the idea at a later time.

SB 651 (Pavley):  SB 651 requires that state hospitals and developmental centers provide a resident who is a victim or suspected victim of sexual assault with a medical evidentiary examination at an off-site facility. Currently, when there is a suspected sexual assault in a state hospital or developmental center, the investigations are handled internally by those who work for the facility. Few incidents are ever referred to an outside sexual assault response team (SART), who have the specialized training and equipment needed to properly investigate such incidents. We advocated for this DRC sponsored bill through talks with stakeholders, meetings with legislative staff, letters to legislators, and testimony at hearings. The bill has passed through the Senate and is in the Assembly assigned to Assembly Committees on Human Services and Health.

AB 961 (Levine): AB 961 authorizes Department of Public Health (DPH) and Department of Social Services to publish unredacted citations involving facilities larger than 15 beds, without reporting client specific information. The minimum size limitation is to further ensure the confidentiality of the individual(s) involved in the citation. It requires the DPH to issue survey findings and citations within an established timeframe, with more critical incidents (those involving death or serious injury) receiving priority. The bill requires DPH to publish a report or report to the Legislature on annual compliance with the timeframes. This DRC sponsored bill improves the timeliness of investigations and better informs the public of incidents of abuse and neglect. The bill has passed through the Assembly Health and Judiciary Committees.  It is currently in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in the suspense file and will be heard on May 24, 2013.  Unfortunately the bill did not make it off suspense.

Public Policy Goal: Goal 1
DRC Staff: Evelyn Abouhassan, Catherine Blakemore, Tho Vinh Banh, Leslie Morrison, Brandon Tartaglia, Dara Schur, Deborah Doctor
Grant/Funding Source(s): Equal Access, Trust Fund


Update on Board Legislative Committee Positions on Bills
SB 585 (Steinberg): This bill would clarify that services provided under the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT)  law may be provided pursuant to the procedures specified in the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) as well as all other statutes providing dedicated mental health funds to counties.  The bill provides that AOT services can be provided with MHSA funds only if the county’s MHSA plan provides for this.  The MHSA services must be offered on a voluntary basis to individuals before the individual has a treatment plan developed under the AOT Demonstration Project Act, i.e., MHSA funds can only be used for involuntary AOT services as a last resort. This bill would specify that counties that elect to implement Laura’s Law may pay for those services using MHSA funds.  The bill clarifies that decisions to fund AOT with MHSA funds can occur during the county budget process as long as all other provisions of the MHSA are followed.  DRC has a neutral position on the bill. The bill has passed the Senate and is in the Assembly awaiting assignment to a policy committee.

SB 260 (Hancock): This bill is similar to SB 9, which was introduced in 2011.  The DRC Board took a support position on SB 9.  SB 9 was signed into law in 2012.  It allows a prisoner – under 18 years of age at the time of committing an offense and sentenced to life without parole – to submit a petition for recall and resentencing.  SB 260 similarly will require the court to hold a hearing to determine resentencing of an individual who was under 18 years of age at the time of an offense and was prosecuted as an adult once the person has served 10 years in prison.  While SB 260 does not specifically require the court to consider the individual’s disability, the bill does allow the court to consider the individual’s inability to effectively deal with police officers or prosecutors, incapacity to assist his or her attorney and other relevant evidence.  DRC has a support position on the bill.  The bill has passed Senate and is now in the Assembly waiting assignment to a policy committee.

SB 755 (Wolk): This bill would prohibit a person court ordered to receive AOT from purchasing or possessing a firearm without a court finding that such possession would be a danger to self or others.  Under current law an individual may be placed under AOT even when the individual has no history of violent or dangerous behavior either to themselves or others.  Current law limits the right of individuals under certain forensic commitments and Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) conservatorships from the possession, custody, or control of a firearm.  However, for individuals placed under an LPS conservatorship, the court must make a specific finding that possession of a firearm would present a danger to the safety of the person or to others.  SB 755 would likely raise Equal Protection arguments since people under an outpatient commitment would be treated differently than individuals under a LPS conservatorship.  DRC opposes this bill unless amended.  The bill has passed Senate and is now in the Assembly waiting assignment to a policy committee.

SB 364 (Steinberg): SB 364 would state the intent of the Legislature to provide consistent standards for protection of the personal rights of persons who are subject to involuntary detention under the LPS Act and to provide services in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the needs of the person.  It encourages each county mental health department to post on its internet web site a current list, to be updated at least annually, of ambulatory services and other resources for persons with mental health disorders and substance abuse that may be accessed by providers and consumers of mental health services.  It encourages counties to serve people on a voluntary basis, even after being placed on a custodial hold.  It encourages counties to develop training programs for designated staff about the LPS Act, which will help ensure people with mental health disabilities are treated appropriately and in least restrictive environments. It further updates and strengthens advisements given to clients, including ensuring children and property is safeguarded when a person is taken into a custodial hold. DRC worked with the author and stakeholders on amendments to clarify assessment and detention processes. Our original position was support if amended, with the soon to be in print amendments – we now support the bill.  The bill has passed Senate and is now in the Assembly waiting assignment to a policy committee.

Public Policy Goals: Goal 1
DRC Staff: Evelyn Abouhassan, Brandon Tartaglia, Deborah Doctor, Margaret Johnson
Grant/Funding Source(s): Equal Access, Trust Fund


Update on Other Legislation
AB 256 (Garcia): AB 256 would authorize a school to suspend or expel a student for bullying done electronically, including when the bullying is done away from school grounds but is related to any school activity. DRC opposes this bill because it will expand the circumstances under which students can be suspended or expelled, including some circumstances where the student is not on school grounds. The bill would unintentionally allow for students with disabilities to be suspended or expelled because of actions that are a manifestation of their disability. We opposed this bill through letters and talked to the author’s office about our concerns. The bill has passed through the Assembly and is currently in the Senate awaiting assignment to a policy committee.

SB 126 (Steinberg): SB 126 extends the provisions of SB 946 through July 1, 2019.  SB 946, which is current law, requires that every health care service plan and health insurance policy issued, amended, or renewed after January 1, 2012, that provides hospital, medical or surgical coverage, provide coverage for behavioral health treatment for pervasive developmental disorder or autism. However, SB 946 is set to sunset on July 1, 2014. DRC supported SB 946 as it provided increased access for behavioral services for people with developmental disabilities.  We also support extending the provisions of SB 946 because it will allow more people to utilize and have coverage for pervasive developmental disorder or autism. This is especially helpful as many families are just now starting to acquire insurance coverage.   We have written letters and testified in committee supporting the bill.  The bill has passed through the Senate to the Assembly and has been assigned to the Assembly Committee on Health.

SB 163 (Heuso): SB 163 mandates regional centers to fund copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles for services listed in the IPP or IFSP.  Additionally, it allows for payment directly to the insurer or the family and requires DDS to develop forms to implement the law. We worked with Senate Human Services staff to adopt a language requiring DDS to develop universal forms to implement the law so that there is consistency across the 21 regional centers, rather than have each regional center develop different documents. 

DRC has written letters and testified in support of the measure; regional centers should fund copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles because many families have insurance with a deductible that is cost prohibitive for them to cover individually – and it would be more cost effective for the regional center to cover the deductible than purchasing the services directly. This is an equity measure for families with different types of insurance, and is a cost savings for regional centers that may have to provide the services directly when high costs place the insurance funded service out of reach for the family.   The bill is currently on the Senate Appropriations suspense file. The bill did not make it off suspense.

SB 561 (Fuller): We opposed this bill which requires a pupil expelled from school for certain offenses undergo a mental health evaluation conducted by a licensed clinical psychologist in order to enroll in another school. The bill does not give a timeframe during which the assessment must happen:  denying students an appropriate education during the delay. The bill allows the use of MHSA money for this purpose. We talked to the author’s office to express our opposition and collaborated with advocacy partners on an opposition message. The author has decided to make this a two year bill and work with DRC and other organizations to address concerns with the legislation.  The bill is currently in the Senate Education Committee.

AB 843 (Logue) and AB 1157 (Jones): As in previous years, bills were introduced to require proof of identity to vote.  Current law only requires proof of identity for first time voters and the types of identification are not limited to driver’s licenses.  AB 843 required proof of residency for conditional voter registration to be effective.  Current law allows a voter to cast a provisional ballot pending determination of residency.  AB 1157 required the inclusion of the last four digits of the voter’s social security number, driver’s license number or identification card number on a mail in ballot.  DRC opposed both bills because these additional requirements go beyond federal and state law and put requirements in place that would have made it more difficult for people with disabilities to register and cast a ballot. Both bills failed in the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committees.

SB 111 (Beall): Under current law certain persons may use a signature stamp to affix a signature to various elections documents. A voter is prohibited from using a signature stamp until an affidavit of registration is completed in the presence of a county elections official. This bill would allow registered voters to use a signature stamp if the voter submits an affidavit of registration electronically utilizing a signature stamp approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles and transmitted to the Secretary of State.  DRC supported this bill.  It has passed through the Senate and is in the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee awaiting a hearing date.
Public Policy Goals: Goals 1 and 2
DRC Staff: Evelyn Abouhassan, Brandon Tartaglia, Deborah Doctor , Margaret Johnson
Grant/Funding Source(s): Equal Access, Trust Fund


State Budget

See here for the most up to date information on the California Budget:
What follows are some highlights of our budget work on the January Proposed Budget.  Updates on the May Revision can be found at the link above.


Department of Developmental Services

In April, we drafted, provided comments and testified at hearings about the DDS budget. We testified on panels and provided recommendations for reforms at Sonoma Developmental Center.  We also provided comments regarding the Lanterman Closure Process and Final Closure Milestones.  With both issues, we advocated that the DDS and regional centers work together to promptly assess and transition individuals to the community; this includes accelerating the schedule for assessing current developmental center residents to identify the types of community-based services and supports the individual will need, and working to develop those services in the community.

DRC also commented on the DDS proposal that includes funding for insurance copayments as part of the proposed budget. We recommended changes to the Administration’s trailer bill language to ensure consistency among the regional centers, allow the use of a more inclusive definition of parent, provide coverage of all Medi-Cal recipients and include coverage of deductibles.

Finally, we supported the sunset of the 1.25 % rate reduction to providers of community based services and regional centers noting that the rate reduction has imposed fiscal hardship on community providers and made it more difficult for consumers to receive quality community based services.  Our detailed budget testimony can be found at:


Special Education: Behavioral Intervention Plans

In the January budget, the Governor proposed to eliminate the state’s behavioral intervention plan “mandate” for special education students and align state law with federal law. The Governor’s plan would eliminate the current Hughes Bill and its implementing regulations and replace them with much narrower requirements. We’ve testified at hearing and worked with legislative budget staff to keep many of the most important protections in this year’s proposed budget trailer bill, AB 1472, which did not pass off the Assembly Floor. The current trailer bill has passed through the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education, but was not adopted and is in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Subcommittee.  The issue will be addressed in the Budget Conference Committee.

Public Policy Goals: Goal 1
DRC Staff: Brandon Tartaglia, Catherine Blakemore, Evelyn Abouhassan, Maggie Roberts, Deborah Doctor
Grant/Funding Source(s): Equal Access, Trust Fund



Making Sure Clients are Getting the Services They Need Through Peer Advocacy

DDPSAU staff provided individual peer advocacy services to two people during the review period.  Both individuals served were representative of underserved communities.


Helping R.M., Who Recently Became Eligible for Regional Center Services, Develop Self-Advocacy Skills

Many adults with developmental disabilities who become eligible for regional center services later in life need help figuring out how to navigate the regional center service system.  R.M. and her family knew from early childhood that she had disabilities.  Her parents even understood that her struggles were most likely due to a developmental disability, but the regional center disagreed.  Only recently she won her last eligibility hearing.  However, as with many successes, new challenges often arise.  R.M. (in her mid thirties) had no experience receiving services from the regional center.  The idea of having an Individual Program Plan (IPP) meeting and asking for services that she was not familiar with was a challenging prospect for R.M. and her family.  We met with R.M. and her family in order to assist her with learning more about the regional center system, her rights and responsibilities, the service options available to her, the steps to take to get help if she encountered difficulty with the regional center and assistance with preparing for her first IPP meeting.  With the knowledge she gained and support from her family R.M. had a successful IPP meeting and reported is now receiving the supports she wanted.

Developmental Disabilities Peer Self-Advocacy Goals: Goal 1, Objective A
DRC Staff: Daniel Meadows, Marinda Reed, Scott Barron
Grant/Funding Source(s): PADD and PAVA

Training Activities

During the report period, we provided 42 trainings, presentations, and outreaches on a variety of topics including: Transportation Rights, Transitioning from Youth to Adulthood, Assertive Communication, DRC/DDPSA Services, Voting Rights, Regional Center Rights, Self-Advocacy, Stigma and Discrimination, Self-Esteem, Rights of People Served by the Regional Center System, Abuse Prevention, Employment, Bullying, and Changes to the Lanterman Act, and Relationship Rights.

Through our training and outreach services, we provided information about individual and developmental service system services options and rights to approximately 1,746 people associated with groups such as: Alta Regional Center CAC, Mt. Diablo People First, Easter Seals Sacramento, Salida Disability Resource Fair, The Youth Transition Conference Fresno, The Arts Center Yuba City, Supported Life Institute Conference, Warm Line Center Sacramento, Fiesta Educativa San Bernardino, North Los Angeles Regional Center, Canyon Springs Developmental Center, Fairview Developmental Center, TASH Conference, Alan Short Center, Westside Center for Independent Living, Vine Village, Sonoma Developmental Center, Regional Center Consumers and families representing the Hmong and Vietnamese Communities, UCP Culver City, Area Board IV, Self-Advocacy Council VI, Area Board XIII, Imperial Valley People First Conference, and Auburn People First.


Springing Forward with Canyon Springs

After many attempts to provide services to people who live in Canyon Springs facility, we successfully established a self advocacy presence at the facility.  We are providing trainings at Canyon Springs on alternate months on a variety of topics such as Abuse Prevention, Rights and Self Advocacy.  Over the months of training, participants have become confident, engaged and excited about learning self advocacy skills.  With the tools gained from the self advocacy and rights trainings provided, people who participate will be better equipped for life in the community and more likely to receive the services they need when they return to their homes.


Relationship Training and Discussion

The right to be involved in relationships throughout life is an important topic within the developmental disability community.  We participated, in collaboration with other peer advocacy leaders from the San Diego area, at a leadership symposium hosted by Area Board 13.  Leaders from the area have been concerned for some time that due to the sensitive nature of the topic, dating and romantic relationships were often not addressed fully and honestly for people living with developmental disabilities.  We and other panel members facilitated a day long training and discussion about the rights and responsibilities involved with romantic relationships for people with developmental disabilities.  Participants received information and asked questions from peers about their rights and responsibilities regarding dating, romantic relationships, marriage and parenting.  Participants left with a greater understanding of their rights and the rights of others.


Getting Out the Vote

We conducted a voting training to Alta Regional Center’s Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC). Those trained were people who use Alta Regional Center Services and Alta Regional Center staff.  CAC members play a key role in their People First groups and the community. The chair of the CAC specifically asked us to present on this topic to encourage members to return to their groups, share information about voting rights, get people registered and pumped for the November election. In the training we discussed voting rights of people with developmental disabilities, accessibility requirements at polling places and what to do if barriers are encountered. We used a voting game to show how registering and voting is an important way to impact issues that are significant to people with disabilities. After the training CAC members were excited to share the information with their groups and have more voter training.

Developmental Disabilities Peer Self-Advocacy Goals: Goal 1, Objective B
DRC Staff: Daniel Meadows, Marinda Reed, Scott Barron
Grant/Funding Source(s): PADD, PAVA


Group Members Learn to Develop Advance Directives

Self-advocacy group members at the Northeast Wellness Center learned about the importance and purpose of health care advance directives.  Initially, group members were hesitant to talk about matters they thought were only related to their death, but then realized advance directives help ensure their wishes are respected in the event they make health care decisions.  Group members felt empowered knowing that they could choose their health care agents and decided to develop their own advance directives.  Once they are all completed, they will invite a notary public to attend the group to finalize the directives.

Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)
DRC Staff:  Rosy Tellez
Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI


Implementing Self-Advocacy Skills to Help Themselves and Others

After learning about self-advocacy skills and patients’ rights at the El Progreso group in San Pedro, self-advocacy group members are spreading their knowledge to help others exercise their rights. When a family friend of a group member was hospitalized for mental health reasons, the family member did not know his rights as a patient.  Using DRC materials about “Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment:  California’s 72-hour hold and 14-day certification,” group members gave this information to the family, who then spoke with the hospital director about how their son’s rights had been violated when he was transferred to another hospital without their consent.  During his hospital stay, group members continued to communicate with him and his family by phone to provide support and handouts about discharge planning.  As a result, he was discharged from the hospital and is now living at home with his family.  This is just one example of how self-advocacy group members teach others how to advocate for themselves, extending the chain of advocacy skills to people in the community.

Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)
DRC Staff:  Senobia Pichardo
Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI


Patton Residents Provide Input to Improve Self-Advocacy Services

We developed a survey to gather feedback from Patton and Napa State Hospital residents regarding the effectiveness of peer/self-advocacy services and ways to improve services to best meet their needs.  One of the suggestions was to have more opportunities to meet with legal professionals to ask specific legal questions related to their personal situations.  As a result, plans are in place to have DRC legal staff attend an upcoming Patton self-advocacy group.  This is just one of the ways PSA responds to client voices.

Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)
DRC Staff:  Garnet Magnus, Debi Davis
Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI


Encouraging Voting and Civic Participation at Peer Centers

In Sonoma County and the Inland Empire, consumers are learning about their voting rights, how to register to vote and the voting process.  Many clients did not know they may still have the right to vote even if they are on conservatorship.  They were also unaware they can ask facility staff for assistance by setting up a ride to a polling place or asking for help with requesting a vote by mail ballot.  We helped coordinate two voting workshops at Interlink and the Wellness and Advocacy Center in Sonoma.  Upcoming are nine planned voting workshops, at three different “It’s a Brand New Day” drop-in centers in the Inland Empire, for people recently discharged from an acute care or locked facility.  These trainings provide clients with real-world examples and guidance about how civic participation and voting can directly impact their lives, demonstrating the importance of self-advocacy skills to make change happen.

Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Outreach, Education and Training)
DRC Staff:  Leo Alfaro and Garnet Magnus
Grant/Funding Source(s):  MHSA Sonoma Contract/PAVA

Reaching Out to University Students to Reduce Stigma and Discrimination

We gave training to higher education students about the causes and effects and ways to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental health disabilities.  The majority of these students, who are in a master’s degree program for Rehabilitation Counseling at San Diego State University, will be future mental health service providers.  We educated them about harmful stereotypes and provided them with tools and strategies for reducing stigma and discrimination in their work with mental health clients.  Another training was provided at the UCLA Disability Law Symposium to provide university students and staff, mental health professionals and attorneys an inside view of life in an institution and the effectiveness of the Recovery Model and peer support services in helping mental health clients with their recovery.

Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Outreach, Education and Training)
DRC Staff:  Lisa Hurley, Robyn Gantsweg
Grant/Funding Source(s):  CalMHSA


State Hospital Resident Moves into the Community

A resident at Napa State Hospital was scheduled for transfer to a community treatment facility.  However, after almost one year, he was still in the hospital because his conservator had not found a community placement for him.  With our help as part of the peer self advocacy services provided at Napa State Hospital, the resident sent the conservator a letter about the issue.  Within three weeks, he moved to a community treatment facility, where he could wear his own clothes, receive unopened mail and visit with his family.

Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)
DRC Staff:  Debi Davis
Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI


Self-Advocacy Group Member Gets off Conservatorship

With our peer self advocacy help and LPS conservatorship materials, a self-advocacy group member at the Hope Center in Eureka got off conservatorship and moved from a board and care facility into the community.  As a result of her volunteer work at the Hope Center and using the worksheet on “How to show you are not gravely disabled,” the group member worked with her public defender to convince the judge that she could take care of her basic needs.  She now lives successfully in her own apartment with a roommate and enjoys the freedom of living independently.

Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)
DRC Staff:  Rob Chittenden
Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI

In a recent Office of Administrative Hearing decision, it was determined until the deductible was satisfied, services from an insurance carrier were not available and therefore the regional center was not relieved of its duty to fund the services.