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Two men struggle to leave institutions, and with DRC help, manage to rejoin community living

From the 2011 Annual Report - After a multi-year battle, DRC helped Joaquin Carson move into his own home with the services and supports he needs to be successful. In 2004, Joaquin was institutionalized after adverse reactions to a new medication. Isolated in primary and secondary school, he had faced barriers before, but he always went home to his family. This time, Joaquin’s isolation was much more severe, far from home in a large state institution.

Over the years, Joaquin told his sister, Diana, and other family members repeatedly that he needed a “new bike and a new home.” His family members became convinced that Joaquin’s plan to move closer to relatives was practical and possible and helped him explore how he could leave the institution.

As an individual with a developmental disability, Joaquin has a right under California’s Lanterman Act to live in the community, if that is his choice. In 2011 after the regional center had refused to help Joaquin pursue his independence, he and his family asked Disability Rights California for help.

DRC attorneys defended Joaquin’s plan at a hearing, explaining the powerful, negative effects of the medications and institutionalization on his quality of life. In addition, Diana and other family members had to drive long distances to see Joaquin for short visits.

After the second hearing, the judge ordered the regional center to immediately begin funding Joaquin’s supported living services. Joaquin’s reaction was “I win! I like bike! I go!” His enewed enthusiasm for life was evident.

In October, contributed furniture was fixed up and in November, Joaquin moved in. A friend brought a grill to cook Joaquin’s requested steak dinner to celebrate the first night in his own place.