Office of Clients' Rights Advocacy (OCRA)
Providing free legal information, advice and representation to regional center clients. We provide the clients’ rights advocate for each regional center. To find out more, keep reading.
The Office of Clients' Rights Advocacy (OCRA) is part of Disability Rights California. The California Department of Developmental Services funds OCRA through a contract. OCRA has been providing advocacy services to regional center consumers, their families, and interested community members since 1999. OCRA provides legal services to consumers of all 21 regional centers throughout California. We have a Clients' Rights Advocate (CRA) designated for each regional center catchment area. The CRA can help with legal problems, conduct trainings, and investigate denials of rights.
To contact your OCRA office, call one of OCRA's toll-free numbers:
Northern California 1-800-390-7032 (TTY 877-669-6023)
Southern California 1-866-833-6712 (TTY 877-669-6023)
Or you can call your advocate directly at the number listed on the staff links page.
Bruce’s mother contacted OCRA after being denied respite services because he was hospitalized. Bruce had been in the hospital for over a month and needed constant supervision while there. His mother could only leave his side briefly when other family members came to visit and she was overwhelmed. Respite was stopped without written notice of action. Since respite can only be provided in the home, the respite agency had thought they were not allowed to provide respite in the hospital.
The exciting new federal law titled the Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (“ABLE Act”), is well on its way to being implemented in California in the next few months. For far too long, persons with disabilities have been unable to accumulate savings for much-needed expenses without jeopardizing eligibility for public benefits. This disadvantage will soon change with the implementation of the ABLE Act.
Dante’s mother had been advocating for him to receive occupational therapy services from the school, but had not been successful. OCRA helped prepare Dante’s mother for his upcoming IEP meeting. OCRA provided Dante’s mother with strategies, advice, and questions to ask related to his occupational therapy needs during the IEP meeting. Dante’s mother followed the advice OCRA provided and the IEP team agreed that Dante needed weekly 30-minute individual occupational therapy sessions at school.
Sam lived in locked institutional settings for much of his life. On his own, Sam filed a writ of habeas corpus, seeking his release from a developmental center. Although he was successful in his petition and won his release, his first community placement failed in part because the location and services were not a good match for his needs. Sam was again placed in a developmental center. OCRA and DRC’s regional office staff represented Sam at IPP meetings and advocated for an appropriate community placement and community-based services. A new enhanced behavioral home was developed in Sam
Raul needs supervision at all times and support with all of his daily living skills. Raul received some IHSS hours, but his mother questioned why he was not receiving the maximum 283 hours of IHSS per month. OCRA explained how Raul could meet the IHSS severely impaired standard and how to appeal the county’s decision. OCRA also explained the individual IHSS category definitions to Raul’s mother and showed her how to record his needs for each service in a weekly chart. Once Raul’s mother completed the chart and determined that he met the severely impaired standard, she appealed the denia
After successfully transitioning from a developmental center to community placement, Victor began attending a county special education high school transition program in accordance with the goals in his IEP. Victor initially did very well in his new program. However, following the school winter break, he experienced an illness and an increase in his aggressive behaviors. Victor had an inadequate school behavior plan, and as a result wound up missing months of school. OCRA represented Victor at a series of IEP meetings and requested additional assessments. Following a detailed transition
Reese had significant behavior issues when she lived in the community. The regional center eventually placed Reese in an IMD that was more than 150 miles away from her home community. The regional center notified OCRA of Reese’s IMD admission and provided OCRA with a copy of her comprehensive assessment. Reese stated clearly that she wanted to return to her community. While OCRA advocated for Reese to live in the least restrictive environment, the regional center attempted to relocate her to another IMD, which allowed outings into the community.
OCRA recently contributed to a community training forum that was attended by 100 medical professionals, social workers, and other service providers. OCRA is part of The Diversability Advocacy Network (DAN), a partnership made up of local organizations in northern California. DAN’s focus is to provide information regarding health care changes, the shift to managed care, and long-term services and supports (LTSS) in the local rural counties. DAN advocates on a systemic level for persons with disabilities and older adults to ensure that LTSS systems are accessible.
OCRA has worked closely with a large high school district over several years to educate families of transition-age regional center consumers about alternatives to conservatorship. The district representative shared that she has seen a shift in the attitudes of parents and staff about conservatorship as a result of OCRA’s outreach over the years. Parents and district staff shared that school psychologists speak of conservatorship as a routine or inevitable step for a young person with a disability.
Jocelyn has disability-related behavior incidents at school. Jocelyn’s teacher would send Jocelyn home early every day, which put her mother at risk of losing her employment. OCRA contacted the director of special education who was unaware that Jocelyn’s teacher was sending her home. The school district funded an independent functional behavior assessment by a qualified assessor and developed a positive behavior plan to assist Jocelyn with her behavior at school. Sending Jocelyn home will not be part of her plan.