California’s protection & advocacy system

For legal assistance call 800-776-5746. For all other purposes call 916-504-5800 in Northern CA

or 213-213-8000 in Southern CA. TTY 800-719-5798.


Disability Rights California celebrates 35 years

1978 - 2013 Highlights (excerpt from 2013 Annual Report pages 8-9)

1977-78: investigative TV series on abuse in institutions results in federal Developmental Disabilities Act... all states required to name protection and advocacy agency... 1978 Gov. Jerry Brown designates DRC, then called Protection & Advocacy, Inc. as statewide agency.

1979-1985: we help stop deregulation of Education of All Handicapped Children Act... help get home-based services for children on SSI... launch popular "how to advocate for your rights" publications... we play role in major victory, the Social Security Reform Act... our bill passes to improve fair hearings for people with developmental disabilities.

1986-1990: we now help people with mental health disabilities and set up peer self-advocacy services... file Zebley amicus brief, successfully challenges federal SSI standards for children... file Coffelt class action to speed pace of individuals leaving state institutions... shooting of man in mental health crisis spurs our advocacy for expanded police training.

1991-1995: we set up Office of Patients' Rights to serve state hospital residents... our review of state hospital deaths brings new restraint procedures... our bills pass to conform state law with Americans with Disabilities Act... our bill on Fair Housing for People with Disabilities passes... Coffelt suit settles, affecting 2300 living in state institutions - since, thousands have moved out... we help Sandra Jensen become first person with Down syndrome to receive heart transplant.

1996-2000: our suit results in Chanda Smith consent decree improving services for 80,000 disabled students in LA... our class action against Bay Area Rapid Transit settles, achieves better access for 40,000 riders... we set up Office of Clients' Rights Advocacy to help people with developmental disabilities get services... following scalding death at psychiatric facility - we get new regs for water temperature controls... our services extended to people with all disabilities.

2001-2005: our Emily Q case means 1000 young people receive wrap-around therapeutic behavior services... start work on access to voting issues... begin services for Social Security beneficiaries and those with traumatic brain injuries... support Prop 63, creating Mental Health Services Act to extend community based services... our report on deaths from prone restraints brings standards for use in health care facilities.

2006-2010: Remembrance ceremonies create awareness of 40.000 who died in state institutions... Our name changes to Disability Rights California... judge lats cuts in response to our Oster class action to prevent 20% reduction of In-Home Supportive Service hours for 300,000 recipients... our Darling case filed to stop elimination of ceter-based adult health services for 35,000... we help defeat bill limiting rights to sue for lack of architectural accessibility.

2011-2013: Napper class action settles - keeps community mental health clinics open for 6000 in Sacramento... we begin employment-related assistance statewide to those needing Dept of Rehabilitation services... we join 100 LA groups to halt restriction of supported housing... Darling case settles, we help hundreds with successful appeals for new community based health services... we present perspective of state hospital residents at town forums... our bill passes requiring state institutions to report all abuse and unexplained deaths to police... Oster case settled, with less harmful cuts of 8% in IHSS hours.


Clients served, issues resolved

  • In 1979 2000 received DRC services; by the end of our first decade, we had directly assisted 38,000 people
  • by 2008 the end of our third decade, we had assisted approximately 500,000 Californians
  • in 2013 we resolved approximately 23,600 requests for help


Beginning with a few staff in Sacramento in 1978, we added offices as follows:

  • 1980 - Los Angeles
  • 1985 - Oakland
  • 1992 - in 5 state hospitals
  • 1999 - in or nearby 21 regional centers
  • 2001 - San Diego
  • 2008 - Fresno

In 2013 the DRC staff was approximately 200