Disability Rights California


MARCH 2010


Dear Governor: Your Cuts are Hurting Me!

Day program participants learn how to write advocacy letters to elected officials

Twelve individuals from ages 22-60 with developmental disabilities got together on October 16, 2009 to learn about voting rights and how to take part in civic life, such as trying to educate California’s elected officials about disability issues. The training was held by the Developmental Disability Peer/Self Advocacy (DDPSA) unit at the request of Tuolumne County at Helping Hands-Thumbs Up.

Helping Hands is a day program that assists consumers in achieving independent living skills, and employment. The agency serves Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. DDPSA conducted a voting rights training for consumers, who arrived eager to learn. Consumers had lots of questions about the voting process, and learned a lot from playing an interactive voting game with questions and answers. They were knowledgeable about how the cuts in the budget affected them and asked questions on these issues.

During the training individuals wrote letters to their elected officials about the budget cuts and how it affects their services. The group had various experience in voting. Some were new to voting and some had voted during the presidential election. Most of the participants understood the process very well. Daniel Meadows, from DDPSA, commented “we use the training to teach individuals with developmental disabilities about their rights regarding the voting process without telling consumers how to vote.”


New Support Groups Forming for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury

Five Self/Advocacy Groups starting in San Diego County

Becoming empowered to pursue disability rights advocacy and learning how to press for increased assistance are the core skills of the training to be offered by Todd Higgins, Sacramento Regional office and Michael McPherson from the and San Diego Peer/Self Advocacy (PSA) Coordinator.

Mr. McPherson runs Veterans Peer/Self Advocacy and Veterans Helping Veterans from the San Diego office. He also works in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to implement five new self-advocacy support groups in the San Diego county area. These support groups are specifically for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who have been identified as having traumatic brain injuries.

In the coming months, Mr. McPherson and Mr. Higgins will build capacity of these five new support groups to provide self advocacy, education, and empowerment and disability rights training to the veterans.

One of the new projects is the Veteran’s Peer Specialist Training Program. It will develop teaching tools and offer training on disability related benefits in order that veterans can be better advocates and role models for other veterans. Disability Rights California is very excited to continue developing new projects and programs to support returning veterans who are in need of assistance.


Spanish-speaking Parents of Adolescents with Disabilities Attend Training on Transition

Focus on tough journey from teen years to adult life

All parents at some point need help in figuring out how to support their teens in transition to adulthood. Parents of adolescents with developmental disabilities have additional concerns and this is why they asked Disability Rights California to put together a training for them.

On November 18, 2009, Griselda Delgadillo from the San Diego Regional Office, provided training on transition services to 18 Spanish-speaking parents. The training was organized in response to a request by Bertha Mendoza of the Exceptional Resource Center of Imperial County. Specifically, Ms. Mendoza sought a training covering services for children with developmental disabilities who are becoming adults. A parent support group meets once a month at the San Diego Regional Center conference room and invites agencies from the surrounding cities to provide training in order to better assist their children and family members with disabilities.

Ms. Mendoza is the coordinator for the support group and has an adult child with a disability. Her daughter in particular, expressed interest in working in the community, and continuing her education as she continues to transition into adulthood.

The training explained the process and importance of the transition plan. Materials in Spanish on Related Services, Transition Services and Vocational Education under the Special Education Rights and Responsibilities were provided. Examples were given of supports and services that help young adults live independently in the communities.

The training also helped parents learn that young adults with disability have the ability to become self-reliant with the appropriate services and supports.


Over 1000 Angelenos Turn Out for Martin Luther King Celebration

Donations provided of food, shoes and clothing

Talk about diversity—wow! This event was a huge success,” reported Mary Rios, Multicultural Affairs Advocate for the Disability Rights California Los Angeles office. “We were busy all day handing out information and answering questions in English and Spanish.”

The all day event was held on January 16, at the Hope for Life Foundation grounds in Los Angeles. The event was a melting pot of culture, varied in ages and ethnic backgrounds. One purpose of the celebration was to provide resources for the homeless individuals at the event: donations of food, clothing and shoes were provided to many who attended. Various organizations, including Disability Rights California, were present to provide first hand information to participants on community and advocacy services. The event began with Sheriff Lee Baca presenting a few words to honor Dr. Martin Luther King and the importance of his work. Throughout the day entertainment was provided by performers, dancers, games, and children’s activities such as pony rides.


Nine Trainings and Six Events Create Enriched Pathways to Tribal Communities

Events range from elders to students, from legal services to special education

Approximately 400 tribal members and their families had the opportunity to learn about services and supports for children, youth, adults and elders with disabilities. Phyllis Preston, Native American Affairs Advocate, organized our involvement in several events over the last few months and participated in the trainings. Following is a listing of each event:

- The American Indian Student & Parent Leadership Conference in Sacramento;

- Indian Child Welfare Act and Accessing Community Services training held in Merced County;

- NOLI- Indian School Special Education at Soboba Reservation-in San Jacinto;

- Central Valley New Year’s Pow Wow in Fresno ;

- Washoe TANF Building Partnerships forum in Sacramento county;

- Special Education training for parents hosted by Cold Springs Rancheria in Tollhouse;

- Elders & Inter-Tribal Gathering in Eureka and;

- A new collaborative partnership with California Indian Legal Services, Inc.

Ms. Preston and the staff from our regional offices participated in these outreach activities, providing information about Disability Rights California’s services. During these outreach activities, publications were disseminated to individuals with a disability and tribal service providers.

Ms. Preston emphasized how important it is to work with the Native American tribes throughout California to empower and educate many of the families who still do not know what their rights are.


Monthly Legal Clinics Held for Homeless People at Loaves & Fishes

"First Friday" offers information, advice, and support from Disability Rights California staff

For the past three years, the Sacramento Regional office staff have worked with Loaves & Fishes to host a monthly, one-hour legal clinic at Friendship Park. Sean Rashkis, staff attorney contacted Director Sister Libby Fernandez to offer assistance to individuals with disabilities who come to the park.

Loaves & Fishes was founded in 1983, a private charity that feeds and shelters individuals who are homeless in Sacramento County. Friendship Park, which is owned by Loaves & Fishes, provides activities, information, restroom facilities, and a safe environment for guests while they access services.

Two staff members from the Sacramento regional office hold a clinic at Friendship Park for an hour on the first Friday of the month. A large percentage of individuals who are homeless have physical, mental health or developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries. Many have difficulties in accessing benefits, employment or housing. At the clinics, individuals have an opportunity to stop by and speak to Disability Rights California staff members. Attorneys and advocates provide advice about Social Security and Medi-Cal benefits, accessing services and discrimination. Loaves and Fishes staff expressed appreciation for the monthly clinic hosted by the Sacramento regional office. Our Sacramento staff looks forward to future legal clinics and providing legal advice to homeless individuals in the Sacramento County.


More Than 3000 Brave Cold, Wet Weather to March, Then Gather at Sacramento Convention Center in Honor of Dr. King

Community leaders, activists, families assemble early Monday morning

Throughout the day on January 18, our staff joined with a large number of other community groups to make connections with and provide information to the African-American community of greater Sacramento. The 29th Annual Martin Luther King Celebration was held at the Sacramento Convention Center. A lot of effort goes into the annual celebration in order to preserve the memory of Dr. King’s commitment and to keep his dream alive.

The celebration attracted well over 3,000 people. Community leaders, activists, families, young adults and children all gathered early Monday morning to begin the march. The march started at the Oak Park Community Center and ended at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Each year our Sacramento Regional Office participates at the Expo to promote, educate and inform the community about disability rights. Regional office staff passed out brochures during the event. Throughout the day many people came by to find out more about Disability Rights services, pick up brochures and signed up for publications. Some had specific questions about employment rights, benefits and special education. One of the participants came to the table inquiring about the latest benefit cuts. He commented, “We can’t balance the budget on the back of poor people, something has to change.” There was heartfelt appreciation of the event and participants really enjoyed the day.

Fresno Satellite Office

Over 200,000 Hmong Arrive in Central Valley for Eight-Day New Year Celebration

Visitors arrive from as far as Minnesota to honor traditions and culture

The Hmong International New Year is one of the largest events held in California. The festival was celebrated from December 26 through January 2nd in Fresno. This was the second year Disability Rights California took part and at least 60 visitors stopped by our table for publications, information and exchange of greetings. Lisa Navarro, Multicultural Affairs Advocate, and Mazie Moua, Administrative Assistant, greeted all who visited our booth.

In the Hmong culture, the New Year represents the blessing of a coming new year. Over 200,000 people attended the eight-day celebration coming from as far as Wisconsin and Minnesota. The event celebrates and honors the Hmong culture, including traditional foods, attire, music and dance.

Disability Rights California participated by having a booth to disseminate pamphlets regarding all of our programs and publications such as: special education, regional centers, In Home Supportive Services and Social Security. Many who visited our booth were interested in hearing about our agency for the first time; others said they would contact our office regarding their legal issue.

Ms. Navarro noted that “Although the day was extremely cold, many enjoyed the event and expressed satisfaction in learning more about Disability Rights California.”


Teaching Families About Regional Center Cuts

Kendra McWright, Temporary CRA for Tri-Counties Regional Center clients and Lesley Anne Ezelle, Director of the Area Board 9, presented an outreach entitled: “Changes in the Lanterman Act: Updates and Strategies” on January 6, 2010. The outreach was held at the ARC of Ventura County in Simi Valley, California. The focus of the training was to discuss the recent changes to the Lanterman Act and IHSS program as a result of the July 2009 budget trailer bill.

Present at the training were 14 regional center consumers, parents and advocates. Kendra and Lesley Anne explained some of the changes to the Lanterman Act, focusing on the changes to respite, supported living services and the new requirements to access generic services and In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). The Lanterman Act requires the state to provide services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. The training was a success with excellent participation by those present including questions about how they were supposed to use their IHSS in lieu of their supported living services and whether there are exceptions to the rule that regional centers are unable fund more than 30 hours of respite a month.

The Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy has now been invited by Area Board 9 to participate as a co-presenter on webinars trainings to reach a greater number of consumers and parents.


Golden Gate Regional Center Hosts Training on Emergency Preparedness

Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy presents full program of information about safety and feeling safe, role playing and games

A dozen adults with developmental disabilities participated December 8, 2009 in a training on dealing with a public emergency or disaster. The training was presented by Clients’ Rights Advocate, Katy Lusson and Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate Amanda St. James.

Ms. St. James introduced OCRA services to the group and then explained the nuts and bolts of Emergency Preparedness. The presentation featured a screening of The Department of Development Services’ (DDS) “Feeling Safe, Being Safe,” DVD followed by thoughtful discussion about the issues. The training included two role-playing activities. In the first role play, one consumer demonstrated preparedness and another did not. In the second role play, the same basic scenario was used, but both the consumers were prepared for an emergency evacuation. The group then played the SAFETY BINGO game and everyone won a prize.

Ms. Lusson commented “The participants gave really positive feedback, including several who said they now felt much more prepared for an emergency situation. Opportunity for Independence has already requested more of our training for the immediate future.”


More than 100 Seniors Learn about our Services and Publications

Organized by the East County Senior Coalition, this year’s Mid-Winter Health and Information Fair took place on January 26, 2010 at Scout Hall in Bethel Island. A total of 36 agencies participated at the event including Disability Rights California. Rides to the event were available so more seniors could attend.

Disability Rights California distributed information about disability rights issues such as transportation, IHSS and advance directives. The most popular publications were, “Advance Healthcare Directives,” “In–Home Supportive Services Nuts and Bolts” and “Transportation Rights for People with Disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Seniors were very happy to receive the information and also learn about the services that Disability Rights California provides. Disability Rights California wants individuals with disabilities to know that we are there to help inform, advise and advocate on their behalf.

Upcoming Community Outreach Events:

Disability Rights California will be hosting Community Advocacy Trainings in your local area. If you are interested in attending or learning more about our advocacy trainings please check our website. www.disabilityrightsca.org

- Bay Area Advocacy Training coming to Santa Clara, April 24, reaching out to the Asian community.

- Fresno Area Community Advocacy Training coming to the Central Valley, April 9 reaching out to the Latino Community.

- Northern California Advocacy Training coming to Shasta County sometime in May reaching out to the rural community.

Statewide Community Events:

- 2010 California Council for the Blind, April 16 in Burlingame;

- California Conference on Indian Education, March 26 in Santa Clara;

- Women’s Resource Fair, March 6 in San Diego;

- 3rd Annual Native American Resource Summit in Los Angeles and many more...

Agency Announcements:

Be a part of our organization and make a difference by participating as a Board member. Applications are available online or by calling our administrative office in Sacramento 916-488-9955 and ask for Dalena Quan.