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 works to bring about fairness and justice for people with disabilities. To reach those goals of fairness and justice, we may:

  1. File lawsuits on behalf of individuals or groups,
  2. Investigate charges of abuse and neglect,
  3. Build peer/self advocacy groups,
  4. Forge community partnerships,
  5. Advocate for change in laws, regulations, and public policy, and
  6. Provide information to those who may not know about their rights.

Legal work:

We have five legal offices in Sacramento, Fresno, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego. Staff in the five offices give callers information about legal rights. At times, staff will refer callers to other agencies. Staff members also do training and education. And, they represent people with disabilities in legal proceedings.

Our Board of Directors establishes priorities for regional office advocacy. Visit our What We Do page for information.


Our Investigations Unit (IU) looks into reports of:

  1. Abuse and neglect in state hospitals and in other facilities,
  2. Abusive or negligent care,
  3. Sexual assault,
  4. Physical abuse or neglect, and
  5. Improper use of seclusion and restraint.

They also find and document serious, systemic abuse and neglect as when other agencies fail to carry out their oversight and investigatory responsibilities.

Investigations Unit web page


We strive to provide broad access to services. Our goal is to ensure that advocacy services reflect the language and ethnic diversity of California. Multicultural advocates, with help from staff in each office and unit, develop outreach and training to help increase our presence in and services to underserved communities.

Our diversity

Client Assistance Program (CAP)

On January 1, 2012, Disability Rights California began providing services under the Client Assistance Program (CAP), serving as a vital link between the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) and the disability community. CAP provides advocacy to persons with disabilities who are seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation (VR) services from DOR. CAP advocates are independent advocates for DOR clients and client applicants.

Client Assistance Program web page

Mental Health Stigma & Discrimination Reduction Project (CalMHSA)

Disability Rights California was awarded a three year prevention and early intervention (PEI) stigma and discrimination reduction funding by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA). CalMHSA administers programs funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) on a statewide, regional and local basis. PEI initiatives aim at preventing suicides, reducing stigma and discrimination, and improving student mental health.

Mental Health Stigma & Discrimination Reduction Project web page

Peer/Self Advocacy (P/SA):

People with disabilities have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Sharing that wealth can help others advocate for themselves as they navigate service systems and work to improve their lives. That is the foundation for our peer and self advocacy people with disabilities sharing their experience. Seeing how their peers have done it, others with disabilities become better informed about their legal, service, and human rights. They learn to exercise their rights to get what they need. They learn how to protect themselves from abuse and neglect. Ultimately, they become their own best advocates. P/SA is also involved in the California Memorial Project, honoring those who died anonymously in state institutions and developmental centers.

Peer/Self-Advocacy Program web page

California Office of Patients' Rights (COPR):

Under a contract with the State Department of Mental Health, the California Office of Patients' Rights (COPR) provides patients' rights advocacy and responds to patient complaints at the five state hospitals. Staff in COPR provides technical assistance and training for county advocates. They work to ensure that hospitals and facilities follow mental health laws, regulations and policies. COPR also serves as a liaison between county patients' rights advocates and the state Department of Mental Health.

California Office of Patients' Rights web page

Office of Clients' Rights Advocacy (OCRA):

Under a contract with the State Department of Developmental Services, the Office of Clients' Rights Advocacy (OCRA) provides clients' rights advocacy for people with developmental disabilities who are regional center consumers. Clients' rights advocates help people who have developmental disabilities and their families get the services they need. Such services can include representation in administrative hearings, training about their rights, and investigation into denial of rights in facilities.

Office of Clients Rights Advocacy web page

Legislation and Public Information Unit (LPIU):

The Legislation and Public Information Unit (LPIU) works on laws, regulations, and public policy. Their work often:

  1. Widens access to culturally appropriate services,
  2. Expands access to safe, community-based living and services,
  3. Gets rid of discrimination,
  4. Fosters equality of opportunity, and
  5. Increases and protects access to health, education and other government benefits.

In the Legislature web page