Outreach Newsletter: September 2011

See the pdf version here.

Spotlight: 20th Annual California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities

The California Youth Leadership Forum (CYLF) is sponsored by California Governor’s Committee on Employment for People with Disabilities, State Employment Development Department, Department of Rehabilitation, Department of Education and the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers. The Forum supports, educates, and provides information and resources to California high school students with disabilities. The Forum prepares young adults to be strong leaders and to give back to their community. During the annual Forum young adults meet and greet other students from different parts of California, interact with leaders in the state, and meet other role models from the disability community. Approximately 60 students from California are selected to participate and attend the 5-day event.

On July 26, the CYLF organized a resource and technology fair at California State University Sacramento. The Fair provided a friendly space where students could meet with service agencies and learn about the resources that are available. Sacramento Regional staff Stephanie Arriero and Stephanie Burkett distributed agency brochures and our special education CDs to the young adults at the event. The students were enthusiastic about Disability Rights California and the services we offer.

Bay Area

The Disability Pride Festival

San Jose’s 2nd Disability Pride Festival took place on July 23. Over 200 individuals from the community gathered to participate in the celebration. The two Grand Marshalls of the Festival were Jean Lin and Christina Mills. A previous Disability Rights California staff member, Jean Lin is now the outreach coordinator for Asian & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California. Christina is the Deputy Director of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC).

The celebration highlighted the achievements of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and provided organizations an opportunity to share their information with the community.

The event began with a parade at the Catholic Charities and ended at the Silicon Valley Independent living Center. The festival offered an abundance of resources. Well over 100 agency booths and entertainment groups were at the event. This years’ parade highlight was the “Justin Dart Puppet”. This puppet was made to commemorate the late activist, Justin Dart,Jr., who is considered the founding father of the ADA.

Agencies present were Silicon Valley Independent Living Center (SVILC)-San Jose, Abilities Expo, California Department of Rehabilitation, Apple West Home Medical Supply, and CFILC, Assistive Technology Network, Yo Disabled & Proud, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, Parents Helping Parents, Santa Clara Valley Blind Center and many more. All came to support the cause. Disability Rights California was also present to provide support and distributed information about Disability Rights California services in the Bay Area.

Native American

Drumming, Music and Special Education

Over 60 community members gathered on June 8, at the Oroville South Side Community Center for the day long workshops on Special Education, Regional Center eligibility, and children’s disabilities. And what a day it was!

Connecting Circles of Care through North Valley Catholic Social Services was our host. In keeping with its mission of providing culturally competent services, the festivities started with drumming, music, and a blessing by Lucky Preston. Throughout the day, simultaneous translation was provided in both Hmong and Spanish.

Andy Holcombe, Clients’ Rights Advocate (CRA) from the Far Northern Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy, warmed up the crowd with a presentation on children with disabilities and their needs. Barbara Ransom, Senior Attorney, showed why she will always be first and foremost, a teacher. Working the room with a brisk pace, no one fell asleep in her class, “Special Education, Today and Tomorrow.”

With event facilitation provided by Lorie Atamian, Assistant Clients’ Right Advocate, and Phyllis Preston, Native American Affairs Advocate, those gathering were treated not only to a nice breakfast and lunch, but were active and engaged participants in case exercises, question and answer sessions, and the all important end-of-the-day raffle. Who says you can’t go back to school and have fun, too! Everyone left better informed and encouraged about making a positive difference for their friends, family, clients, and community.

Sacramento

4th Annual “Sacramento Homeless Connects” joins over 50 service agencies

On May 21, Disability Rights California joined the Sacramento Homeless Connects event, which took place at Sacramento City College. This one-day event featured agencies providing an array of health, education, and legal services to the homeless community. Sacramento Mayor Johnson led the opening ceremony, welcoming everyone to the fair. County Supervisor Phil Serna and Assembly member Roger Dickinson also stopped by to lend their support to the festivities.

Over 50 different service agencies were represented and approximately 800 homeless individuals attended. Agencies present included Americorp, Salvation Army, UC Davis Medical, Private Dental Service, St Vincent de Pauls, CARES, Sacramento County, Sacramento Self Help Housing, Veterans Administration, Social Security Administration, Project Teach and many more. Health, optometry and dental screenings occurred throughout the day; HIV testing and counseling, free DMV identification cards, applications for social security and over 1000 hot meals were provided.

The event provided a great opportunity for Disability Rights California to network with other service agencies and provide information about the services we provide. While at the event, Sacramento Regional staff distributed brochures, annual reports and special education CDs.

San Diego

Training Held on Learning to Read Your Individual Education Program (IEP)

n June 24, Griselda Delgadillo from the San Diego Regional Office and Cynthia Salomon from the Office Clients’ Rights Advocacy conducted a special education training for the Mariposa Support Group at the Dayle McIntosh Center in Garden Grove. The Mariposa support group meets monthly and hosts Spanish-speaking parents who have children with disabilities who are new to special education.

The training focused on the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process. Examples of IEP documents were provided to the parents who attended and the goal of the training was to familiarize these parents with the IEP process and how to read and interpret the IEP forms. Parents had lots of questions about their children’s educational rights, such as “Should an IEP meeting be scheduled and agreed upon?” and, “Should the school push me to place my child at a special day class?” Approximately 23 parents attended the IEP training and they requested that Disability Rights California return to provide additional trainings in the future.

Fresno

Thumbs Up Community Integration was established in 1987 to provide adult Valley Mountain Regional Center (VMRC) consumers with developmental disabilities help with their integration into the Sonora community. Thumbs Up assists 70 adult consumers at any given time.

On May 27, Agnes Williams, Associate Managing Attorney, Lisa Navarro, Multicultural Affairs Advocate, Leinani Walter, Clients’ Rights Advocate and Christine Hager, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate partnered with Thumbs Up to conduct a self-advocacy clients’ rights BINGO training for the consumers. The BINGO game is a fun, interactive way for consumers to learn about their rights. The consumers participated enthusiastically, winning many prizes. The Fresno staff plan to visit partnering agencies yearly to ensure access to legal services for consumers throughout Tuolumne County.

Office of Clients' Rights Advocacy North Bay Regional Center (NBRC)

Advocates Collaborate at Self Advocacy Training

Disability Rights California has found that collaboration with other advocates can produce effective training of regional center consumers. On May 26, 2011, advocates from the Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy (OCRA), Peer Self Advocacy Unit , Area Board 4 and the consumer advocate at North Bay Regional Center (NBRC) presented a self-advocacy clients’ rights training to 60 self-advocates from day programs in the surrounding area.

Yulahlia Hernandez, Clients’ Rights Advocate, Annie Breuer, Assistance Clients’ Rights Advocate and Vanessa Ochoa-Alcaraz, Administrative Assistant led the self advocacy BINGO games and acknowledged excited winners. Cindy Ruder of the Area Board 4 coordinated attendance and planning for the event. DDS Consumer Advisory Committee member, Cindy White, facilitated audience participation. Randy Kitch from NBRC moved the group through the training agenda, while Daniel Meadows from the Peer/Self Advocacy unit, provided information and inspiration to the audience. Rosie Juarez, a self-advocate and news reporter from the Becoming Independent day program, participated in our clients’ rights BINGO game along with other self advocate representatives.

Poster sized BINGO cards were developed for use by OCRA so that all the self-advocates in the large room could see and enjoy the BINGO game. Participants and presenters thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the collaboration. One consumer noted that he, “I learned a lot of stuff that I did not know.” Another consumer said, “I got a lot out of it, I learned how to be a leader,” and, “I learned more about rights and advocacy.” As a result of this training, the next scheduled event is September 29th, 2011, “How to be a leader.”

Office of Clients' Rights Advocacy San Diego

My Own Choice

Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy (OCRA) staff had an extremely successful Capital People First (CPF) training in June, 2011. Jeanne Molineaux, Director, Alba Gomez, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate, and Wendy Dumlao, Clients’ Rights Advocate met with nine residents of Country Hills Health Care & Rehabilitation Center, a 304 bed skilled nursing facility. During the training, OCRA staff presented materials developed by the Department of Developmental Disability Services called “My Own Choice.” These materials explain four possible community living options for consumers.

The facility’s staff was extremely supportive of the training and very interested in the materials. They want to help consumers move to less restrictive settings. As a result of the training, one of the consumers and his wife asked for OCRA’s assistance in moving out into the community. OCRA will help coordinate services between the agencies serving the consumer.

Los Angeles

All-day Training for Spanish-speaking Parents of Children with Disabilities

The Los Angeles and San Diego Regional Offices joined forces to provide an all-day special education training to monolingual Spanish-speaking parents. Multicultural Affairs Advocates, Mary Rios and Griselda Delgadillo developed and disseminated flyers to parent support groups, regional centers, and advocacy groups. The training was presented in Spanish and covered assessments, the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process, related services, assistive technology, AB3632/mental health services and due process.

The training provided parents the opportunity to role-play different scenarios and voice their concerns about their children’s education. The event also provided Disability Rights California the opportunity to hear about many of the issues facing monolingual families.

The June 15 training at the Disability Rights California regional office in Los Angeles and San Diego via videoconferencing, attracted approximately 23 parents. The participants reported they had learned a great deal and requested more trainings in the future. Many of the parents agreed the training gave them the tools to advocate effectively for their children.

Developmental Disabilities Peer/Self Advocacy

Spanish-speaking Parents Learn About Rights to
Special Education

On June 15th, the Developmental Disability Peer/Self Advocacy (DDPSA) unit staff, Multicultural Affairs Advocate, Mary Rios and Assistance Clients’ Rights Advocate, Jasmine Romero provided training via teleconference to Spanish-speaking parents on their children’s rights to special education. Approximately 23 parents attended the training which focused on Individual Education Plans (IEP), related services, assistive technology, AB3632/mental health services and due process. DDPSA staff Scott Barron, answered questions and also had the opportunity to share his personal experiences. Parents came away empowered to effectively advocate for their children.