Advocacy Director’s Report

June 16, 2012 Report


This report represents a summary of the work Disability Rights California (DRC) advocacy programs and projects reported through April 30, 2012; 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 of DRC issues


Two press releases were issued in this period, the first on January 20 announcing the preliminary injunction awarded to stop the 20% across the board In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) cuts, and the second on April 24 in English and Spanish, announcing our Southern California Latino Conference in June.


During 2012 our media coverage increased in frequency--we now often receive  a call a day.  The mix of media for a month usually includes mainstream print, specialized or niche print such as a law or business journal or health care blog, radio or television and online reporters.


April is a good example of how our issues and results are being covered: one of the Los Angeles Times investigative reporters quoted advocacy staff in a feature on problems in phasing in managed care; multiple reports in print, online and radio about the Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) transition to Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) referenced our lawsuit and quoted legal staff; the Daily Journal article on new federal guidelines on pool access quoted legal staff; the San Diego Union Tribune ran our Letter to the Editor critiquing a cartoon linking a rise in gun violence to people with mental health disabilities; a local follow-up story in the Sacramento Business Journal on expected IHSS cuts referenced our lawsuit; and our stance against forced treatment and Laura's Law, originally posted as on op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, was picked up by one of Britain's leading papers, the Guardian.


From January through April, Disability Rights California was covered in 32 stories - following are some highlights:

·      January - statewide coverage of the settlement of the ADHC class action suit; and Sacramento coverage of the Napper settlement that keeps community outpatient mental health clinics in place

·      February- intensive print, radio and television coverage of California Watch’s investigation of unresolved deaths and injuries at developmental centers; beginning of local coverage of ADHC transition to CBAS problems

·      March --ADHC/CBAS transition issues continue; our counter efforts to Laura's Law appeared in press and on radio


Communications Goals: Goal 1 and 2

Disability Rights California Staff: Barbara Duncan

Grant/Funding Source(s): Trust Fund, Equal Access


Highlights of Disability Rights California web based communications work


Facebook:  Disability Rights California passed the 1200 friends mark and we have between 500- 800 visits a week (

Website: We started a “Video of the Week” on the website and Facebook.   We updated and streamlined the Spanish website homepage ( Our CalMHSA Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Project webpage was launched (, as was the Client Assistance Program webpage ( Our weekly e-newsletter subscribers total 823. Individuals can subscribe by providing an email address(see our homepage for more information) (

Annual Report: The English version of the Annual Report is available in print and online (  Soon a Spanish version will be available online.


Website statistics: Compared to this same time period in 2011 (January 1-April 30), website visits increased by around 3,400, totaling 73,724, averaging 612 visitors a day. Consistently, about 82% of our visitors are from California. About 40% are returning visitors and 60% are new.


The Spanish website visits increased from 702 to 1,069 in this same time period. On both websites, the most frequently visited publication is Special Education: Rights and Responsibilities and the top search term is "IHSS." Other frequent searches and publications visited on both sites concern conservatorships and fact sheets about state budget cuts in services for people with disabilities.


Communications Goals: Goals 1 and 3
Public Education Goals: Goal 1, Objective A

Disability Rights California Staff: Barbara Duncan, Adam Borovkoff, contractor: Hizuru Cruz

Grant/Funding Source(s): Trust Fund, Equal Access


Publication updates: California's threshold languages change


Our translation vendors provided us with updated statistics on California's threshold languages. These new statistics will help aim the translation of our publications more pro-actively towards the monolingual communities of California. Statistics show growing populations of Spanish, Chinese (speaking both Mandarin and Cantonese), Armenian, Russian, and Farsi speaking populations as well as a diminishing Korean speaking population. Statistics also show that the Hmong population prefers Hmong interpreters to written materials as the majority of Hmong speakers do not read, and those that do read are generally English bi-lingual.


Three new publication CDs in print production


Our most popular publications are now packaged and ready for distribution on 3 different interactive, accessible CD formats:

1. Disability Rights California CD - Contains all of the top publications, brochures, and fact sheets in multiple languages.

2. SERR CD - Contains the most popular special education publications and fact sheets in multiple languages.

3. RULA CD - Contains the most popular Lanterman Act publications and fact sheets in multiple languages.


A 4th Client Assistance Program specific publication CD is now in the design stage.


Public Education Goals: Goal 2, Objective A

Disability Rights California Staff: Adam Borovkoff

Grant/Funding Source(s): Trust Fund, Equal Access, CalMHSA







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


Overview of the proposed FY 2012-2013 state budget


Governor Brown released his 2012-2013 proposed budget on January 5, 2012.  The proposed budget projects a deficit of $9.2 billion for 2012-13.  The Governor’s proposed budget plan addresses this deficit through $4.2 billion dollars in reductions, including significant cuts to health and human services programs, many of which are used by persons with disabilities, and $4.7 billion in new revenue through proposed tax increases in 2012-13.


The tax increases must be approved by the voters through an initiative on the November 2012 ballot and would be in effect from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2016.  If the tax measure is approved, it will include nearly $7 billion in new revenue for 2011-12 and 2012-13; $2.5 billion of it will be used for schools and the rest to address the deficit in 2012-13.[1]  If the tax initiative is not approved, the proposed budget assumes $5.2 billion in additional trigger cuts. We drafted letters and position statements on proposals in the budget that impact individuals with disabilities.  We also attended budget hearings and testified on these proposals.  For more details see here:

In late April, the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) released a report announcing that revenues fell $3 billion below the Governor’s original projections.  The shortfall will likely force the Governor to propose more harmful cuts to services people with disabilities care about in his May Revision budget proposals, to be released on May 14, 2012.


State budget advocacy


Special education: behavioral intervention plans: In the January budget proposal, the Governor proposes to eliminate the state’s behavioral intervention plan “mandate” for special education students. The proposal would first suspend the Hughes bill (AB 2586 of 1990) regulations, and calls for the legislature to enact subsequent legislation that eliminates the regulations or makes them more permissive.


We believe the behavioral intervention plan requirements are a federal requirement, not a state mandate. In 2010 we worked with the LAO and budget staff to craft budget trailer bill language (AB 1610) which clarified that state law and regulations merely implements the federal requirements and give specificity and guidance where the federal government gave none. We believe AB 1620 relieved the state of its obligation to reimburse schools for these federally mandated services.


The administration does not believe that the language in AB 1610 fully alleviated the state’s obligation, so it  put forward this proposal to eliminate it completely.  We opposed the Governor’s proposal in the Senate Budget Committee and have met with budget staff to express our position and find out more information. We are meeting with other advocacy groups to coordinate testimony at upcoming budget hearings and develop a plan to address the issue.

AB 1629 (removal of sunset): In 2004 AB 1629 became law, changing the method by which the state pays nursing homes for residents on Medi-Cal, imposing a Quality Assurance Fee on the facilities, and greatly increasing the state’s reimbursement of nursing homes. We opposed the original bill, have opposed each extension of the bill, and now oppose the removal of its sunset. We see no evidence that the additional $1 billion dollars per year paid to nursing homes has improved the care and, along with other advocates and legislatures, are asking the administration for justification for continuing this rate methodology.

Managed care for “duals”: In 2010, SB 208 became law, which authorized the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to start up to four pilot projects to integrate Medicare and Medi-Cal services, including long term services and supports for people who have both Medicare and Medi-Cal coverage (‘duals”), into managed care.  DRC supports the financial integration of long term services and supports it if it is designed to further home and community-based services and lessen the use of institutions including nursing homes.  However, we have concerns about how the state will pick the pilot project locations and whether the state and those counties will be ready for such an enormous shift in the way care is delivered.


Our concerns were reinforced when problems arose in a related process – the mandated move into managed care of people with disabilities and seniors who have Medi-Cal only.  Advocates and physicians reported patients being separated from long term medical providers, missing cancer surgery and dialysis, being assigned to medical groups where no one spoke their language, among other issues.


The state’s choice of Los Angeles as one of the first four locations meant that around 60% of the “duals” – around 700,000 individuals – would be part of an experiment never attempted on this scale in the United States.


The first four pilots have not begun, but the administration has proposed expanding the “duals” project into ten counties, making it mandatory for Medi-Cal services, with the ten sites starting in January, 2013.  Among other problems, the administration proposes to enroll people passively, with a six-month lock in, provisions which erode consumer choice.


We have participated in state-sponsored workgroups and, along with other legal services and consumer groups, raised questions about how this effort will work and how it will affect people with disabilities.  We developed Principles on Long Term Services and Supports covering such issues as due process, benefits package, enrollment requirements and assessment, distributed it widely, and are using it as the basis of our analysis of and lobbying against the proposal.  We believe that the administration should slow down, figure out all the components and details of the integration project, and start only with managed care plans that show competence and readiness to adequately serve a new population with service needs that the plans have not previously provided. 


Mental health proposed budget issues: We are monitoring realignment and reorganization efforts begun last fiscal year.  Our primary concern with the administration’s proposals to reorganize and realign mental health programs is maintaining county accountability so that individuals can obtain needed services.  We have asked the Legislature to provide state oversight to ensure that mental health funds are used properly.


We are also concerned that realignment to the counties may result in quite different services from county to county for individuals with disabilities.  While we believe counties should structure services to meet the needs of their communities, we recommend that sufficient statewide service standards and performance measures be put in place to ensure that individuals with disabilities in each county receive access to services of equal quality.


We are working to make sure the focus in state hospitals is not just on security but also providing an effective treatment.  Focusing on security alone could lead to lack of treatment and further criminalization of people with mental health disabilities.  At the point that we equate mental health disabilities with criminal behavior - then the focus shifts to punishment and security rather than treatment.  We have sent letters to budget committees, testified at hearings and met with budget staff on our concerns.

Public Policy Goals:
Goal 3
Disability Rights California Staff:
Evelyn Abouhassan, Catherine Blakemore, Deborah Doctor, Margaret Johnson, Brandon Tartaglia, Dan Brzovic, Kim Swain, Elissa Gershon, Elizabeth Zirker
Grant/Funding Source(s):
Equal Access, Trust Fund


Update on sponsored legislation


SB 1377 (Corbett) amends state law to clarify that DRC, through our statutory access authority, has direct access to un-redacted citations and statements of deficiencies occurring in a program, facility, or service serving people with disabilities. The bill requires an agency charged with investigating reports of incidents of abuse, neglect, injury, or death to send the reports to DRC in un-redacted form without requiring DRC to make a separate request and assertion of probable cause in each case.

In the past, the state provided such reports in complete and un-redacted form. However, in 2009 the Department of Public Health (DPH) changed this policy for two specific populations of individuals with disabilities. Citing state privacy laws governing the records of persons with psychiatric and developmental disabilities, the DPH began sending DRC redacted records for cases involving people with these types of disabilities.

Under the new policy, the DPH requires DRC to provide a written request to receive un-redacted records for each case involving people with psychiatric and developmental disabilities. This extra step is unnecessary, and creates a significant delay in receiving the reports sometimes for many months. The delay can jeopardize the well-being of the individuals involved and creates more administrative work and costs.


Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett agreed to carry the legislation. The bill was introduced on February 24, 2012.  We are shepherding the bill through the legislative process by writing letters, gathering support from other organizations, testifying at hearings, and working with legislative staff and state agencies to address any issues that arise.  SB 1377 unanimously passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17, 2012. 

SB 962 Homes:  Senator Mark Leno is interested in expanding the availability of Homes for People with Special Health Care Needs (known as SB 962 Homes) statewide. These homes are small specialized residential facilities that include substantial nursing support for individuals with complex medical needs. SB 962 Homes are being used for people who move from Agnews and Lanterman Developmental Centers, but there are many residents in other developmental centers who need this type of small facility.


People with both developmental disabilities and serious health care needs have historically been institutionalized, because there were no community-based homes licensed to meet their combination of needs. The Governor's 2012-2013 budget places the per developmental center resident amount at nearly $365,000, which far exceeds the cost of available community-based alternatives like SB 962 Homes. We support expanding SB 962 Homes and have testified in the budget committees in support of expansion. Both the Department of Developmental Services and the Association of Regional Center Agencies support this proposal. 


Originally, Senator Leno asked Disability Rights California to sponsor a policy bill, but he has decided to move forward with the concept as part of the budget process this year.  This issue was heard in the budget committees the week of March 26, 2012, and again on May 9, 2012, where we advocated for statewide expansion.

SB 1522 (Leno):  This bill amends the types of incidents that developmental centers are required to report to outside law enforcement and requires that certain incidents be reported “immediately.”  Specifically, developmental centers would be required to immediately report the following critical incidents involving developmental center residents:

1.   A death;

2.   A sexual assault, as defined in the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act;

3.   An assault with a deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury, as defined by penal code;

4.   An injury to the genital when the cause of the injury is undetermined; and

5.   A broken bone when the cause of the break is unknown.


Reporting these incidents would be required regardless of whether the Office of Protective Services (developmental center internal police department) investigated the event.  If the incident is reported by phone to the local law enforcement agency, a written report would be submitted within two working days.


Disability Rights California sponsored SB 1522 because it refines the incidents that the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is required to report to the local law enforcement agency to critical incidents warranting the attention of outside investigators rather than all incidents regardless of their severity. 


Currently, the DDS does not distinguish between minor and serious injuries; therefore they report to outside law enforcement any injury of unknown origin captured by their incident reporting system, including relatively minor injuries.  Inundating local law enforcement with reports of minor injuries may temper law enforcements’ response to critical incidents warranting their immediate attention and expertise. 


This bill narrows the reportable injuries to those critical incidents suggestive of abuse or criminal conduct.  Additionally, current reporting does not include allegations of sexual assault or assaults with a deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury. We believe that these incidents should be immediately referred to outside investigators with better training and more recent experience in evidence collection and forensic interviewing.  In many cases, collection of physical evidence is critical to bringing a successful prosecution or taking disciplinary action against an assailant.  Local law enforcement is best positioned to perform these functions.  This bill was heard in Senate Human Services Committee and Senate Public Safety Committee, where we advocated in support as sponsors.  The bill is currently heading to Senate Appropriations Committee.


SB 1051(Liu): SB 1051 codifies many of the recommendations DRC made in our testimony at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Human Services on March 13, 2012.  The hearing examined law enforcement practices in developmental centers.


Specifically, the bill requires:

·      The Department of Justice to include data regarding a crime victim’s self-report of disability status in the criminal justice statistics, no later than at the next revision of the uniform crime report;

·      Mandated reporters in developmental centers to “immediately” report known or suspected abuse and would not permit reports to lag until “as soon as practically possible”;

·      The Director of Office of Protective Services to meet specific employment qualification criteria in order to be appointed by the Director of the Department of Developmental Services; and,

·      Developmental centers and state psychiatric hospitals to report the following critical incidents involving a facility resident to the state protection and advocacy agency by the close of the first business day following discovery of the incident:

1.   Any unexpected or suspicious death;

2.   Any sexual assault allegation implicating the involvement of a facility or department employee; and,

3.   Any report made to local law enforcement.


SB 1051 provides additional protections for people with disabilities in state facilities and ensures that known and suspected abuse of residents in developmental centers is immediately reported to law enforcement or the Office of Protective Services.  The measure also ensures that officers in state developmental centers are under the direction of a qualified law enforcement officer with extensive prior management experience directing uniformed officers and investigations.  Finally, it broadens the reports the state protection and advocacy receives regarding possible incidents of abuse and neglect of residents in state facilities.  We advocated for SB 1051 in the Senate Human Services Committee and the Senate Public Safety Committee; the bill is currently heading to the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Public Policy Goals: Goal 2
Disability Rights California Staff: Evelyn Abouhassan, Catherine Blakemore, Leslie Morrison, Brandon Tartaglia
Grant/Funding Source(s): Equal Access, Trust Fund

Update on other legislation


AB 1729 (Ammiano): AB 1729 provides protection for children with disabilities from being suspended or expelled for behavior problems if the behavior is a manifestation of their disability. The bill authorizes a school district superintendent or principal to use alternatives to suspension or expulsion that are age appropriate and designed to address and correct the root causes of a pupil's specific misbehavior.


If a child with a disability is subject to discipline under this bill, the school will first be required to hold an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting within 3 days to discuss the child’s behavior and determine if a functional behavioral assessment and behavioral intervention plan are needed to address the behavior.  We worked with the author’s office before this bill was introduced to have these specific disability provisions added into the bill proposal.  As the bill moves through the process, we are writing letters and testifying at hearings.  We are also working with the bill’s sponsor and author to help them amend the bill to address the issues of the opposition.


AB 1569 (Allen):  Assembly Member Michael Allen introduced AB 1569, which extends assisted outpatient treatment, also known as “Laura’s Law”. This law permits counties to provide court-ordered “assisted outpatient treatment” (AOT) services for people with a serious mental disorder.  AOT can be ordered when a court finds that a person's recent history of hospitalizations or violent behavior, coupled with noncompliance with voluntary treatment, indicates the person is likely to become dangerous or gravely disabled without the court-ordered outpatient treatment.  Prior to providing AOT, the county must offer a voluntary treatment plan that includes a broad array of statutorily required mental health services.   AOT was implemented by AB 1421 (Thompson, 2002) and extended by AB 2357 (Karnette, 2006)).  The law is scheduled to sunset this year absent an extension by the Legislature. 
We oppose the bill because AOT is unnecessary, as there are good alternatives to ensure access to needed voluntary mental health services; AOT has not been widely implemented and does not work; and, the current 
Lanterman-Petris Short Act law allows for involuntary mental health treatment under statutorily defined criteria.   Further, forced treatment is inconsistent with mental health recovery principles of self-determination and empowerment.  
We strongly advocated against the measure by drafting position statements in opposition, meeting individually with legislative and committee staff, and testifying in committee hearings.  We worked to ensure our position is understood in the media.  The bill was heard in the Assembly Health Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Appropriations Committee.  The bill is currently in the Senate.


AB 2134 (Chesbro):  Requires a county that chooses to provide assisted outpatient treatment services to develop best practices for the purposes of responding to a mental health crisis, and to provide for services in connection with these best practices.  Services would include but are not limited to: utilization of crisis intervention teams, mobile crisis teams, or psychiatric emergency response teams.  We oppose “involuntary” assisted outpatient treatment.  We are working with the author’s office on amendments that we believe will further strengthen this legislation. The bill just passed out of the Assembly Health Committee.


AB 2531 (Allen): Would authorize state hospitals to develop a list of contraband items that are prohibited on hospital grounds.  It would require state hospitals to form a committee to develop the list. The list would be reviewed and approved by the hospital director or designee, but it would not be subject to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). 


This bill would authorize the development of rules related to contraband without following the procedures established in the APA, which is contrary to a finding by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) in 2009.  In 2009 the OAL invalidated Department of Mental Health (DMH) Special Order No. 239.02, which required state hospital directors to develop either “contraband” or “allowable” lists. The OAL found that the Special Order constituted an “underground regulation” and was subject to APA procedures. 


In our experience, current state hospital contraband practices demonstrate the need for the APA’s checks and balances.  Each hospital currently has a “contraband” and an “allowable” list.  Often residents have difficulty finding a hospital’s contraband list, and are given conflicting information about what is on the list. Many times existing contraband committees classify items as contraband based on value judgments about items rather than fact-based decisions about the likelihood that the item presents a risk to safety and security in the facility.  This results in the deprivation of items such as newspapers, jewelry, and certain types of hats and shoes.  This bill would authorize these types of practices to continue.  We oppose unless the bill is amended.  Thus far we wrote letters and are working with the author on amendments to the bill. This bill has passed out of the Assembly and is awaiting assignment to a policy committee in the Senate. 


AB 2623 (Allen): This bill would require hospital police officers (HPOs) to carry firearms when performing assigned functions outside the secure treatment area of the hospital.  We are opposed to this bill because there is no need for HPOs to carry firearms and carrying them could actually pose a safety threat to patients and hospital staff.  Methods already exist to address “high risk” patients, including transferring patients from the state hospital to a correctional facility under Welfare and Institutions Code section 7301.


HPOs lack the necessary training in firearm use.  HPOs are under the jurisdiction of a hospital administrator who has not been trained at an academy nor had post certification training.  There will be additional associated costs were HPOs to carry firearms, such as training costs for HPOs to carry, use, store, and maintain firearms and increased liability insurance costs.  State hospitals are treatment facilities.  Increased costs to allow HPOs to carry firearms will lead to further cuts to treatment staff and create a non-therapeutic setting for patients.  We have written letters, testified in committee hearings and discussed our concerns with the author. This bill is currently on suspense in the Assembly Appropriations Committee because of the costs associated with the bill.


SB 1282 (Blakeslee): This bill would provide that a state prisoner who is being treated in a state hospital would meet the definition of being confined to a state prison even though they are in a state hospital. This bill would also define a prisoner receiving mental health treatment as a condition of parole as confined to a state prison.


By defining certain state hospital residents as being confined to a state prison, they will be found guilty of felonies for certain crimes and treated like prison inmates for the purposes of criminal punishment for those crimes.  State hospital patients, whether committed civilly or forensically, are in the hospital to receive treatment, not punishment.  We oppose this bill because it blurs the line between treatment and punishment by treating hospital patients like prison inmates, potentially subjecting them to prison sentences when they should be receiving care and treatment.  The bill was set for its first hearing, but the author cancelled its hearing and is not planning to pursue it. 


AB 1610 (Wagner), AB 1878 (Gaines), AB 2282 (Berryhill), AB 2325 (Norby), SB 1163 (Walters), SB 1186 (Steinberg): These bills all put limits on disability access claims by creating notice and right to cure provisions in the state’s antidiscrimination laws.  We opposed all the bills because they were overbroad, did not address the stated concerns of the authors, and singled out people with disabilities among all the protected classes in California for different treatment in regards to enforcing their right to full and equal access to public accommodations.  Of the bills listed only two have made it out of their committees: AB 2282 and SB 1186.


AB 2282 has been amended to require the California Commission on Disability Access (CCDA) to analyze and make recommendations to the Legislature regarding whether compliance with state and federal construction-related disability accessibility laws would be improved or potentially deterred by changes to state rules regarding legal standing for actions seeking injunctive relief to correct alleged violations of disability access laws or the manner by which these claims are pleaded.  We support the amended bill and have so testified in committee on the bill.

SB 1186 has been amended to require a 30 day notice period.  We oppose the bill because it includes a 30 day notice requirement that is a substantial infringement on the civil rights of people with disabilities; and because the CCDA has not been utilized to resolve the issues this bill purports to remedy and the new requirements on the CCDA detailed in the bill do not provide sufficient resources for it to do the requested activities.  We support the bill’s new requirements that lease forms or rental agreements notify the business about the accessibility of the property.  We wrote letters, testified at committee hearings and are currently meeting with stakeholders to resolve our concerns with the bill.


AB 889 (Ammiano): Would change the working conditions for domestic workers (including personal care assistants), who are not covered by overtime and other wage and hour rules, and would mandate certain benefits. (See details in previous Advocacy Director Reports) The author took many amendments to limit the scope and costs of the bill, but almost all disability groups and many others remained opposed.  The author decided to make it a two-year bill to allow further negotiations.  We are involved in negotiations, trying to balance the rights of domestic workers to overtime; with the affect that paying overtime would have on low-income people with disabilities.  We remain hopeful for a compromise that would allow us to remove our opposition.

Public Policy Goals: Goal 3
Disability Rights California Staff:
Jackie Dai, Brandon Tartaglia, Evelyn Abouhassan, Margaret Johnson, Dan Brzovic, Michael Stortz, Catherine Blakemore
Grant/Funding Source(s):
Equal Access, Trust Fund


Disability Capitol Action Day:

We are in the planning process for our annual Disability Capitol Action Day event, to be held on May 30, 2012 at the State Capitol.  The event will feature a resource fair, a march and rally at the capitol, and legislative visits by consumer advocates during and after the event.  Again, this year, we are focusing on the state budget cuts that affect people with disabilities.  In planning the event, we are chairing the coalition’s policy workgroup to decide on the legislative priorities of the coalition as a whole, helping organize the legislative visits, and working with the larger coalition on logistics.


Public Policy Goals: Goals 4, 5 and6
Disability Rights California Staff:
Deborah Doctor, Brandon Tartaglia
Grant/Funding Source(s):
Equal Access






Fall, winter, and early spring trainings


During the report period, we provided 38 trainings, presentations, and outreaches on a variety of topics such as: Choosing Your Ideal Career, the Power of Self-Advocacy, Due Process and Appeal Rights, Disaster Preparedness, Voting Rights, Public Benefits, Special Education, Abuse Prevention, Bullying, and Stigma and Discrimination.


In the course of providing training and outreaches, we provided information about individual and developmental service system rights and our services to approximately 1,510 people, and to groups such as: Jay Nolan Community Services, Easter Seals of Yuba City, Blind Children's Center in Los Angeles, the Supported Life Conference, Easter Seals in Torrance, United Cerebral Palsy in Culver City, Down Syndrome Buddy Walk, South Bay Adult Day Program, Almansor Center, Vine Village, Wackford Community Center, Central Valley Training Center, Capitol People First, CalTash Conference, Whittier High School, Choices Conference, Sacramento City College, and Oakland People First.


Developmental Disabilities Peer Self-Advocacy Goals: Goal 1, Objective B
Disability Rights California Staff
: Daniel Meadows, Scott Barron
Grant/Funding Source(s):

Disaster preparedness training to the Hmong community at the South Bay Adult Day Program


We trained thirty-one Hmong consumers of the South Bay Adult Day Program in San Jose.  This was the first time we provided training to the Hmong Community.  The training included a video about disaster preparedness and a short role play about preparing for disasters.  The training was in collaboration with the Multicultural Affairs Advocate in the Disability Rights California Bay Area office.  As a result of this training, we were invited to present on this topic at two additional facilities.


Developmental Disabilities Peer Self-Advocacy Goals: Goal 1, Objective B
Disability Rights California Staff
: Daniel Meadows, Yesenia Roman Grant/Funding Source(s): PADD

Voting rights training at the Central Valley Training Center in Stockton


We provided a voting rights training to fifty people at the Central Valley Training Center in Stockton.  The training included information about the importance of voting, how ballots measures work and can become law, how to register to vote, how to get help with voting from supported living agency staff and at polling places, and how to have voting written as a goal in an Individual Program Plan (IPP) through the regional center.  Attendees participated in a voting game that simulated a mock election.  Some members of the audience had previously voted but were excited to learn about how to request voting as an IPP goal.


Developmental Disabilities Peer Self-Advocacy Goals: Goal 1, Objective B
Disability Rights California Staff
: Daniel Meadows, Gail Gresham, Annie Breuer
Grant/Funding Source(s):


"Your Vote Counts" training at Jay Nolan Community Services in Mission Hills


Training about voting rights and civic participation was given at the Jay Nolan Community Services for consumers and staff.   The training entitled “Your Vote Counts” covered topics such as the different ways to cast a ballot, how to register to vote, why it is important to vote and to engage in civic participation, the voting rights of individuals with developmental disabilities, accessibility rights, and how to prepare to vote. 


Developmental Disabilities Peer Self-Advocacy Goals: Goal 1, Objective B
Disability Rights California Staff
: Scott Barron, Hillary Sklar Grant/Funding Source(s): PAVA


Testimony provided to the San Gabriel City Council regarding a proposed residential care facility


During the January 17, 2012 San Gabriel City Council meeting, we provided testimony regarding a proposal to establish a residential care facility.  Community members in support of and also against the proposal attended the meeting.  We testified about the Developmental Disabilities Peer Self-Advocacy (DDPSA) program, our trainings such as independent living and supported living services, the positive impact community integration has on communities and the important role peer support provides in daily life.  Our testimony was provided in conjunction with testimony and written comments provided by Disability Rights California Regional Office staff.


Developmental Disabilities Peer Self-Advocacy Goals: Goal 2, Objective A
Disability Rights California Staff
: Scott Barron, Hillary Sklar
Grant/Funding Source(s):




Creekside Self Advocacy Group develops grievance form


Many self-advocacy group members report that their rights are violated in facilities.  While some facilities have grievance forms, they often do not provide room for the detailed and accurate reporting that group members want to include.  As a result, members of the Creekside Self-Advocacy Group decided to develop its own grievance form to give them the opportunity to more thoroughly and accurately report their rights issues.  They developed a rough draft to improve how the form looks and the type of information to include.  Once the form is finalized by group members, they will invite Hank Hallowell, the county patients’ rights advocate, to present a grievance workshop and provide feedback on their grievance form.  In addition, the self-advocacy group will ask Mary Fiumara, the Program Director at Creekside, for an opportunity to give input regarding the grievance process procedures.  This is an excellent example of self-advocacy group members initiating and implementing their own self-advocacy project. 


Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)

Disability Rights California Staff:  Leonard Alfaro

Grant/Funding Source(s):  Sonoma County


Discharge planning skills help residents leave facility


Based on one of the action plans developed by PSA about discharge planning, we provided information and practiced role plays to help prepare self-advocacy group members for discharge from the View Heights IMD facility in Los Angeles.  After learning the steps that lead to discharge, many residents participated in an outpatient support group at a clinic in San Pedro to help them with community reintegration.  Because of the self-advocacy knowledge and skills learned in the PSA group, 4 members were discharged from the facility and now live in less-restrictive settings, such as board and care homes like Percy Village and Normandie Village.  One group member returned to live with her family.  Another resident who has lived at View Heights for 4 months is preparing to challenge his conservatorship and has been placed on the facility’s discharge list.


Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)

Disability Rights California Staff:  Rosy Tellez

Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI


Patton Self-Advocacy Group members recognize peer advocates


In their efforts to promote and support peer self-advocacy, group members at the Patton Self-Advocacy Group presented their first Peer-to-Peer Advocacy Award to Sharon S., a resident at Patton.  Both Patton staff and Resident Council members attended the ceremony and helped present the award.  Recognizing group members as outstanding peer advocates who provide peer support to other residents has proven to be an effective tool.  It engages residents at Patton to participate in weekly self-advocacy groups and to pursue their own self-advocacy efforts, including discharge from the facility. 


The self-advocacy group, also, drafted a document, entitled “What Being an Effective Advocate Means,” to identify the qualities, habits and ideas that all residents can use to demonstrate and advocate for themselves.  The Patton Resident Council is reviewing this document to gather input from other residents.


Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)

Disability Rights California Staff:  Garnet Magnus

Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI


Workshop participants conduct voter registration drives and mock election debate


Workshop participants at Royal Residential Long-Term Treatment Center in south Orange County developed their first voting seminar and held a mock election debate in preparation for upcoming local, state and federal elections.  In addition, both staff and residents worked together to have a voting information and registration booth in the facility’s parking lot.  Some of the publications handed out included Orange County voter registration forms, voter information guides from the League of Women Voters, and Disability Rights California publications entitled “Your Vote is Important” (publication # 5498.01 in English) and “How Can I Vote if I am Hospitalized (publication # 5417.01 in English).  A total of 16 individuals stopped by the voter registration booth to ask questions and find more out about the voting process, of those 8 people completed a voter registration form.  There were also 5 other individuals passing by on their way to the medical center who took some handouts and registration forms.  As a result of the voter workshop, the facility now regularly includes information on voting and civic participation in their education classes.  In this way, voting workshop participants help inform others and provide peer support to one another about important voting issues and the registration process.  This encourages more civic participation from both residents and people in the community.


Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective B (Workshops)

Disability Rights California Staff:  Garnet Magnus

Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAVA


Self advocacy group members learn about employment rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


In these difficult economic times, finding employment can be a real challenge.  For people with mental health disabilities, it may be even more difficult as a result of stigma and discrimination.  For this reason, it is especially important for people to know their rights as they seek to obtain and maintain jobs.  At the self-advocacy group at “La Hora del Café” in Los Angeles, we provided information on the ADA and handed out material on pre-employment screening considerations so that self-advocacy group members could better prepare for job interviews.  For instance, they learned that they are not required to disclose their mental health disability in order to be considered for employment.  After learning the information in the self-advocacy group, one of the members sought to educate other mental health clients and provide peer support by attending a jornaleros (day laborers) meeting and teaching attendees about their employment rights.  Other self-advocacy group members reported that, as a result of the PSA group, they are more confident and secure in seeking employment because they learned their rights.   


Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)

Disability Rights California Staff:  Senobia Pichardo

Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI




Workshop at Napa State Hospital for female residents


While many self-advocacy groups and workshops include both men and women, it can be helpful for female residents to have a women-only training to encourage stronger peer support.  In February 2012, we facilitated a 4-week workshop for the female forensic admissions unit at Napa State Hospital.  Since all residents on this unit were at the facility under the Incompetent to Stand Trial (IST) commitment, the workshop provided participants with knowledge and tools they could use to better understand their situation and advocate for their release from the hospital.  Twenty-two women attended the workshop and developed a working relationship with PSA and Napa State Hospital staff.  During the workshop, participants learned about the PSA Self-Help Office and self-help group available to residents at the hospital.  Prior to this workshop, Napa staff never brought women to the Self-Help Office, but since then, 5 women residents have begun to utilize these self-help and legal resources on a weekly basis. 


Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective A (Self-Advocacy Groups)

Disability Rights California Staff:  Debi Davis

Grant/Funding Source(s):  PAIMI


Work to reduce stigma and discrimination


Recently, DRC was awarded a 3-year contract for a county/CalMHSA and Prop. 63 funded stigma and discrimination reduction project[2] to examine laws, policies, practices and procedures that foster or perpetuate stigma and discrimination against people with mental health disabilities.  In addition, we will provide trainings to people in the community, such as employers, mental health providers, first responders, law enforcement, landlords and people in the faith-based community, to teach them about legal rights of people with mental health disabilities and ways they may be stigmatizing and discriminating against people with mental health disabilities.  These trainings will increase awareness and improve relations and communication.  We are researching contacts and locations to hold trainings.  The trainings will be based on specific information provided in fact sheets and training modules that DRC is developing about specific stigma and discrimination issues.  Since PSA staff all identify as mental health clients, we can best guide DRC’s work in this area because of our own experiences with stigma and discrimination.  Through this work we seek to educate people who may not be aware or realize that they stigmatize and discriminate against people with mental health disabilities.


Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective B (Outreach, Education & Training)

Disability Rights California Staff:  Raegan Graziani, Rob Chittenden, David Solis, Robyn Gantsweg, Margaret Johnson

Grant/Funding Source(s):  CalMHSA



Family Youth Roundtable 2012 Annual Conference: Focus Groups on Reducing Stigma and Discrimination Against Youth with Mental Health Disabilities in Schools and Courts


Disability Rights California’s county/CalMHSA and Proposition 63 funded stigma and discrimination reduction project staff conducted focus groups at the Family Youth Roundtable Annual Conference to identify issues related to stigma and discrimination against youth with mental health disabilities in the school and court systems.  We provided brief presentations on the importance of cultural competence in addressing negative attitudes, and an overview of educational and judicial practices and policies that foster and perpetuate discrimination.


Approximately 30 people attended.  They were divided into focus groups to discuss issues in the context of the educational and criminal justice systems and identify barriers that come up in those systems.  Participants identified the following 5 barriers: misunderstanding and lack of education regarding diagnosis, lack of cultural competence within the school and court systems, lack of school involvement, lack of training for professionals, and lack of community support.  We will use the information learned to inform our work in this area.


Peer-Self-Advocacy: Goal 1, Objective B (Outreach, Education & Training)

Disability Rights California Staff:  Robyn Gantsweg, Agnes Williams, MHAS staff: Nancy Shea

Grant/Funding Source(s):  CalMHSA

[1]    welfare.html


[2] The Stigma, Discrimination, Reduction and Advancing Policy to Eliminate Discrimination Program (APEDP), administered by The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), is funded by the voter approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).  CalMHSA is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.  CalMHSA operates services and education programs on a statewide, regional and local basis. For more information, visit