Outreach Newsletter: February 2011

See the pdf version here.

Spotlight: Celebrating Hmong Family Health Day

Sacramento Regional staff, Der Her, Receptionist and Leilani Pfeifer, Multicultural Affairs Coordinator, reached out to approximately 100 individuals at the 7th Annual Hmong Family Health Day.  The event took place at Meadowview Park, Sacramento.

Hmong Women Heritage hosted the annual event to promote and educate the Hmong community about health.  Information and publications about health and disability services were distributed during the busy day.  Several families came to the table to learn about Disability Rights Services.

Contacts were made with the other service providers who joined to support the Hmong community—La Familia, Asian Pacific Counseling Center, UC Davis, County Health Services and many more.  The day was filled with music, traditional dance performances and activities for children.  Disability Rights California received some request from community organizations and family members to provide future trainings on public benefits.

Sacramento Regional Office: Disability Accommodation Training at Atwater Federal Prison

The Federal Bureau of Prisons was established in 1930 and is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 210, 000 Federal offenders.  Today, the Bureau consists of 116 institutions, with 18 facilities in California.  Lt. Donald Tyson of Atwater Prison contacted Disability Rights California requesting training on disability accommodations in a federal prison setting. 

On October 27, 2010, Disability Rights California attorney Sean Rashkis and law clerk William Sheslow provided a training on disability accommodations for prisoners and prison employees under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).  Lt.  Tyson provided a tour of the facility in which Mr. Rashkis and Mr. Sheslow were able to interact with both prisoners and staff.

About a dozen staff attended the training.   The training covered different legal concepts under the ADA and 504, such who are covered under the Acts and what is a reasonable accommodation.  Part of the training focused on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and possible accommodations staff could provide for prisoners with ADHD at Atwater.

Disability Rights California followed the training with a question and answer session about disability rights and resources for additional information and referrals.

DDPSA/PSA Unit: Getting Out in Your Community—Reaching For Success

Parent’s Place hosted its 4th Annual “Transitioning from High School Conference” on November 13, 2010 in West Covina.  Parent’s Place is a family resource and empowerment center committed to supporting families who have children with disabilities.

Agencies such as San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center, Department of Rehabilitation, Aim Higher, the Center for Independent Living and Disability Rights California participated at the event.  Information about community resources was provided to parents of students with developmental disabilities.

Developmental Disability Peer/Self Coordinator, Maria Marquez participated in this year’s event.  She staffed a table and distributed a variety of resources- including materials on supported living, the ticket to work, and supported employment programs and more.

Many parents and students who attended the event commented that resources provided helped them become better informed and gave them additional choices.

Fresno Regional Office: Another Year to Celebrate:  Hmong International New Year

Fresno’s Hmong International New Year attracts 1000 families from many Central Valley Counties and other parts of California.  Since 1975, the Hmong International New Year has become a part of American culture.  The event in Fresno is the largest.  The Hmong International New Year is a non-profit organization that promotes and preserves Hmong cultural heritage.

Hmong families use the New Year event as an opportunity to reunite with long-time acquaintances.  This year, they met at Fresno fairground from December 26 through January 1, 2011.  Mazie Moua, Disability Rights California from the Fresno Satellite Office, attended the festivities.  The event showcased traditional clothing, music and a variety of traditional Hmong foods.  There was a talent show and competitive sports.

During the festivities, Mazie Moua, Administrative Assistance spoke to many of the participants and provided them with information about Disability Rights California and the services it offers.  Many participants who received our brochures were surprised that services are provided at no cost and expressed their gratefulness that assistance is available to help people with disabilities advocate for their rights.

Reaching Out to Families in Madera County

Cottonwood Head Start in Madera is one of 10 centers that provides for childhood development, mental health services, nutrition, health, family and community services in collaboration with the Madera/Mariposa Regional Head Start Program—also know as Community Action Partnership of Madera County (CAPMC).  When established in 1965, each county in the United States designated a community action agency to be responsive to the needs of the low-income individuals and families by providing programs and services that assist them in becoming stable and self-reliant. Cottonwood Head Start is the agency for Madera County.

Cottonwood provides services to 34 children from 3-5 years of age.  Parents volunteer their time each month to assist teachers and help students.  The center organizes a parent meeting each month and invites a speaker from the community.  Lisa Navarro, Multicultural Affairs Advocate was invited to introduce Disability Rights California’s services to 20 staff ad parents at one of the monthly meetings.   The parents asked questions and shared their experiences.  Lisa provided information in English and Spanish regarding educational rights for students with disabilities.  Lisa met privately with one parent to discuss her son’s disability and asked how to obtain needed assessments to start kindergarten next year.  Lisa informed parents about the intake process at Disability Rights California.

The Fresno Satellite Office was excited about making this initial contact with Madera County Head Start program.  As a result, future trainings will be scheduled in February for Madera and Mariposa Head Start programs.

Native American: Legal Clinic at Roundhouse Council Education Center

On November 9, 2010 Phyllis Preston, Native American Advocate and Terry Lindsay, Advocate of the Sacramento Regional office provided a community legal clinic at the Roundhouse Council Education Center located in a remote tribal community in rural Greenville, Plumas County.

Roundhouse Council (RC) provides educational opportunities and other resources to create and promote community well being and positive attitudes which enhance the quality of life for Native American cultures.  Upon arrival to Greenville, flakes of fresh know started to fall.  The community and RC staff provided a great welcome with hot coffee, fresh fruit and lunch. 

Five families were assisted during the special education legal clinic.  Parents of children ages 7-14 with either special education or a 504 educational plan had concerns about the implementation of the supports or services for their children.  The Roundhouse Council made confidential meeting rooms available for the clinic, as well as offered use of their office equipment and telephones.

Disability Rights California was invited back to present a community training on special education in the spring.  The event echoes the importance of Disability Rights California’s support for local non-profit agencies in its efforts to increase awareness about benefits and services for Native American with disabilities.

San Diego Regional Office: Orange County Fiesta Educativa, 10th Annual Conference

On October 22, Multicultural Affairs Advocate, Griselda Delgadillo of the San Diego Regional office, Irma Wagster, Clients’ Rights Advocate and Cynthia Salomon, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate of the Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy presented at Fiesta Educativa’s 10th Annual Conference.  The conference took place at Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.

Fiesta Educativa was founded in California in 1978 to inform and assist Latino families in obtaining services for their children with disabilities.  Fiesta Educativa attracts Spanish-speaking families who have children with disabilities.  The conference is part of a statewide event that takes place in several counties throughout California.

Approximately 250 participants attended the special education training.  The training focused on rights to obtaining behavioral support plans.  Some of the questions from the parents included:  “I noticed my daughter coming home with bruises—how should I address this with the school?” “My child is acting out and now being expelled—what should I do?”

Disability Rights California staff answered questions and provided materials during the training.  After the training, staff conducted intakes with participants interested in receiving additional information or who needed assistance with their individual situations.

Bay Area Regional Office: Transitioning to a Social World

The Contra Costa County Transition Task force held its Annual Transition Conference on January 4, at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hills.  It was sponsored by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, Contra Costa County SELPA, and Contra Costa County Developmental Disability Council.

The annual event is open to approximately 250 parents, professionals, and individuals interested in obtaining transition information.  The conference offered 27 workshops where participants shared information and learned innovative approaches to success after high school.  Main topics discussed included education, employment, benefits, relationships, disability rights, living options, mental health and parent supports.  The conference also offered a wide array of resource information from different agencies throughout Contra Costa County.

Maggie Roberts, Associate Managing Attorney of the Bay Regional office participated in a panel session entitled, “The Future of Disability Rights.” Participants on the panel included Larry Paradis from Disability Rights Advocates and Cheryl Thesis from Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

The panel discussed how far disability rights had come and how far the movement still needs to go.  This event gave Disability Rights California a chance to participate and collaborate with other disability rights organizations on an important topic that effects many of our clients.

OCRA: Emergency Preparedness Training

Filomena Alomar, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate, and Alice Ximenez, Office Manager of the Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy conducted an Emergency Preparedness self-advocacy training to participants who attend a day program funded by Valley Mountain Regional Center in Stockton, on November 22, 2010.  There were approximately 50 consumers in attendance.  The training included a safety video, a backpack demonstration, and showed participants the items they should keep on hand in case of an emergency.

Following the training, Filomena answered questions from the consumers who participated.  At the end of the training, Filomena awarded outreach prizes to participants.

OCRA: Understanding Social Security Benefits at the Unidad and Fuerza Support Group

The Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy (OCRA) contacted Unidad y Fuerza, a Latino family support group for children with disabilities, to schedule a training.  The support group leader identified social security disability benefits as one area in which their families had many questions.  Tim Poe, Clients’ Rights Advocate (CRA) and Abigail Perez, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate (ACRA) agreed to conduct a training on social security benefits and how to appeal denials and overpayment notices.  ACRA translated materials and provided Spanish interpretation at the training.

The training took place on October 27, 2010, at Miller’s Children Hospital.  Over 20 individuals attended.  Participants asked a lot of questions about overpayments, which is a big problem for families when their monthly income fluctuates.  Participants share their personal experiences dealing with the Social security Administration.

Participants and OCRA staff identified strategies that worked well, such as submitting timesheets and maintaining contact with Social Security Administration staff.  Several persons met with OCRA staff following the meeting to have their individual questions answered.  In addition, OCRA received subsequent calls from members of the support group to which OCRA provided individual assistance on social security issues, as well as other benefits and regional center matters.  OCRA was invited to provide additional trainings in the future.

Los Angeles: “Camino Al Abogar Por Nuestros Hijos Especiales,” –Road to Advocate for Our Children with Disabilities

Multicultural Affairs Advocates Griselda Delgadillo and Mary Rios, from the Los Angeles and San Diego offices participated in the annual Fiesta Educativa conference held on November 6, at the Inland Regional Center, San Bernardino County.

Approximately 80-100 participants from San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles Counties were present at this year’s event.  “Camino Al Abogar Por Nuestros Hijos Especiales,” (Road to Advocate for Our Children with Disabilities) was this year’s theme.  

Various workshops were offered throughout the day.  Topics included special education, Independent Living Center services, and regional center services.  Parents had an opportunity to share their experiences and learn about their rights. 

Each year, Sacramento, San Jose, San Bernardino, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego and Los Angeles host an annual Fiesta Educativa Conference to serve Latino families of children with disabilities, in order to ensure that families have opportunities to participate and get information about rights and community resources.  The conference empowers families to learn about their children’s disabilities and the services to which they are entitled to.

Disability Rights California has been strong supporter of Fiesta Educativa.  Mary and Griselda had the opportunity present information about Disability Rights California services to 40-50 participants.  In addition, staff distributed resources materials and publications to families during the busy event.