2nd Annual Disability Capitol Action Day Resource Fair”
Disability Capitol Action Day kicked off its “2nd Annual Disability Capitol Resource Fair” on May 15 in Sacramento. This year’s motto was “You can’t balance the budget on cuts alone! Cuts cost more.” The event started with a march and ended at the north steps of the State Capitol. An educational forum, resources fair, rally, and legislative visits filled the day’s agenda. The event was sponsored by California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, California Association of Public Authorities, California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, Protection & Advocacy Inc., and many more.
Protection & Advocacy Inc., (PAI) staff attended and supported the 2nd Annual Disability Capitol Action Day. The exciting event was held at the State Capitol, where several agencies from Sacramento came to support the cause. The opening ceremony emphasized important issues such as the proposed elimination of certain Medi-Cal services including: dental services for adults, speech, audiology, optician services, podiatry, and psychological services. Reductions of domestic and related services under In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and the elimination of Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) under Supplemental Security Income (SSI) were also discussed. PAI staff continue to fight to keep these services for Californians with disabilities. This year, staff participated as key organizers of the event, as well as an exhibitor. Many visitors came to the table to say hello and thanked Protection & Advocacy for the wonderful work it does. Approximately 400 individuals with disabilities from all over California attended, from Southern and Northern California. We are proud to be part of one of the most important disability advocacy opportunities of the year.
The 2008 statewide People First Conference held June 6-8 in Sacramento at the Double Tree Hotel, attracted 350 individuals with developmental disabilities throughout California. The three-day event included workshops on “ Your IPP in Tight Budget Times,” and “Self Directed Services,” presented by Maria Marquez and Daniel Meadows from the Developmental Disability Peer/Self Advocacy Unit (DDPSA). Other PAI staff provided disability rights information to people with disabilities, family members, and advocates. Throughout the day, individuals visited our table asking about their rights under Lanterman Act (RULA). Beth Leach, Human Resource Director, and staff shared information about publications on our website which are available in multiple languages. The event was filled with ongoing trainings, exhibitors that provided important information, and opportunities to enjoy the evening with camaraderie, dining, and dancing.
Special Education Rights and Responsibilities publication a hit in the Chinese Community
On May 17, 2008 Yuen Chiang, the Multicultural Affairs Advocate in our Oakland regional office, attended the 4th Annual Special Needs Festival held by the Organization of Special Needs Families. This event brought together hundreds of families, friends, and supporters of children with disabilities. The organization of Special Needs Families (OSF) was established in 2002 in Cupertino by four families with special needs. OSF serves over 300 Chinese families and its mission is to integrate individuals with special needs toward an independent and productive life. OSF put together a day of fun filled activities, cultural entertainment, and resources targeted for Chinese families. Families were excited to see the multicultural stage performances and booths staffed with bilingual individuals who spoke Mandarin and English. Yuen Chiang interacted and provided information to families that only spoke Mandarin. Families were especiallyexcited to receive informational material about Protection & Advocacy and our “best seller” “Special Education Rights and Responsibility” in Chinese. The event created a gateway to initiate relationships with the other organizations that serve the Chinese community.
Students with disabilities learn About their Legal rights in the work force
Protection & Advocacy in collaboration with Legal Aid Society of San Diego’s Children and Youth Advocacy Project (CYAP) provided training on May 14 to two groups of students at Morse High School and Serra High school in San Diego County. The presentations provided information to over 60 transition-aged youth with disabilities about the Social Security Administration and information about work and benefits, social security taxes, retirement, disability and supplemental security income (SSI). Students participated in this interactive presentation and talked about why they like to work and how they like to spend their money. Students were given a case scenario of a working student with disabilities and how the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) applied to students. PAI provided resources such as how to get benefits planning with the local Community Work Incentive Coordinator, information about the school to work calculators on the internet site www.disabilitybenefits101.org, how SSI benefits are calculated by Social Security Administration, and Medi-Cal’s 250% Working Disabled Program. This is the second year Protection & Advocacy collaborated with the CYAP to reach transition-aged youth. Students participating in this event do so as part of a series of Legal Life Skills trainings provided by CYAP.
2nd Annual Celebración de Familias Excepcionales
The second annual Celebración de Familias Excepcionales continued its successful efforts to provide education to Spanish-speaking parents in the Central Valley . The Spanish-language conference was held in Kern County, modeled after the Los Angeles Fiesta Educativa. The conference, held on May 10, 2008, was attended by more than 320 people from areas throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Counties represented included: Kern, Inyo, Mono, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Monterey, San Benito, Madera, Merced, Mariposa, and Stanislaus. The Kern Regional Center and Central Valley Regional Center collaborated with other agencies in sponsoring and planning the educational conference. Valerie Geary, the Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate from our Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy, was on the planning committee. The first keynote speaker was Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr. Jose Fuentes. Dr. Fuentes frequently serves as consulting to help enhance educational benefits, as well as the level of educational support required for students with varying disabilities. The second keynote speaker was Dr. Anthony Montreal who supervises eight divisions of the California Department of Education (CDE). His associate, Tapita Cortez-Alcala, CDE Director of Legislation, was also a guest speaker. In addition, this year there were five break-out sessions. Protection & Advocacy advocate, Carmen Varela, facilitated the IEP session. Other sessions included: Self-Esteem, Social Security, Mental Health, and Behavioral Problems. Celebración de Familias Excepcionales was honored to have Dolores Huerta, President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, deliver the welcoming address.
OCRA Monthly Disability Rights’ training for San Gabriel families
The San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center serves individuals with developmental disabilities in more than 19 cities that are part of the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County. Aimee Delgado, Clients' Rights Advocate (CRA) has provided monthly trainings on preparing for and understanding the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process to families at the Parents’ Place Family Resource Center. Parents’ Place is in West Covina, which is centrally located in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley. The monthly trainings at Parents’ Place have been part of the ongoing outreach offered by the Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy since August 2004. Attendees range from parents to care providers, service coordinators from the regional center, as well as vendors, social workers, graduate students, and school personnel. The two-hour IEP training informs participants of important timelines and stresses the importance of preparation and participation in the process of developing a child’s IEP. Participants are encouraged to be proactive and advocate for their children’s individual needs.
OCRA Watsonville Individual Education Plan (IEP) Event enjoyed by all
Lisa Navarro, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate, and Gail Gresham, Supervising Clients’ Rights Advocate, traveled to Watsonville on June 13, 2008 to meet with Grupo Renacer. The Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy staff has worked with parents from this group for many years. The evening turned out to be much more than just a basic training on special education, specifically Individual Education Plans (IEP). Children created beautiful art with supplies provided by OCRA. Parents participated in discussions on a variety of topics including Medi-Cal, regional center services, and special education. Children appreciated Lisa and Gail for bringing art supplies by giving them a purple floppy hat and a hand-made doll!
OCRA Reaching out to Spanish-Speaking families at Fiesta Educativa
On June 21, 2008, Ibrahim K. Saab, Client Rights’ Advocate and Ada Hamer, Assistant Client Rights’ Advocate serving clients of North Los Angeles County Regional Center along with Los Angeles Regional Office staff, participated in the annual Fiesta Educativa conference held at the campus of the University of Southern California.
The goal of the event was to inform and assist Latino families in obtaining services for their children with disabilities.
The event included trainings and tables staffed by various organizations. Rosa Alas, Rita Lindgren, and Beatriz Garcia from Protection & Advocacy participated as exhibitors. Parents and family members obtained information on a variety of issues related to individuals with disabilities.
Protection & Advocacy Advocates, Carmen Varela, Brigitte Ammons and Managing Attorney Keith Sakimura, in collaboration with the Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy staff provided participants the opportunity to consult privately and obtain advice regarding regional center and benefit issues through its scheduled legal clinic.
In addition to providing one-on-one consultation, staff provided relevant publications in Spanish on a variety of topics including In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and Medi-Cal.
Some of the conference topics included special education, regional center eligibility, and Social Security benefits. Approximately 300 people attended the conference at USC.
OCRA and PAI are pleased to be annual participants at this very important event. Not only was important information provided to an underserved population, but it also provided families an opportunity to network and support one another in caring and advocating for their children.
Staff look forward to next year to continue the tradition of reaching out to the Latino community and having fun at the same time.
The 2nd Annual Consumer Advocate Network
Gathering Many people with disabilities do not have a plan of action in the event of a disaster. On April 10, 2008, the 2nd Annual Consumer Advocate Network Gathering (CAN) was held by the Developmental Disabilities Peer Self Advocacy unit by videoconference in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Oakland. CAN, consisting of consumer advocates employed by Regional Center, Department of Developmental Services (DDS), and staff from Developmental Disabilities Peer/Self Advocacy Unit (DDPSA) provided peer advocacy to clients.
The group led by David Lopez, Consumer Advocate for Alta Regional Center, and Nicole Patterson from the DDS developed a training module on disaster preparedness to help support peers and to prepare individuals during major disasters like an earthquake or flood. This initial training will be duplicated throughout the state for other peer/consumer advocates.
During the second half of the gathering, CAN worked on the “Consumer Network Handbook.” The handbook is for newly hired consumer advocates employed by the Regional Center and other system services. The handbook provides a basic understanding about working as a consumer advocate. CAN hopes to have this handbook available soon and to distribute it to regional centers, Area Boards, and other agencies who might employ peer advocates.
Staff mobilizes for a cause at “the Mind of America, Mental Health Walk”
Michael McPherson from Peer/Self Advocacy unit participated in “The Mind of America Walk.” The Mental Health Board of San Diego County, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and the Veterans Council hosted the walk and resource information event. The event raised $150,000 to provide services to people with mental health needs throughout the state. PSA staff and 40 consumers participated in the walk. Michael McPherson stated, “We were all at the park bright and early with the excitement of ‘The Mind of America Walk’.” There were over 1,600 walkers supporting the cause. After the walk , PSA staffed a booth providing disability rights information to many of the individuals who participated.
PAI Supports Sacramento Area American Indian Higher Education Collaborative
Native American Affairs Advocate Phyllis Preston, in collaboration with the Native American Resource Center, joined the Sacramento Area American Indian Higher Education Collaborative (SAAIHEC) to recognize 28 Native American students at a banquet on May 7, 2008. This is an annual commitment to encourage, inspire, and support Native American students who are pursuing their goals in achieving a higher education.
The Native American Resource Center (NARC) and Four Directions College Success Program of American River College provide students with tutorial services, guidance, referrals to Disabled Student Services, cultural social activities, and information on access to local community based services.
Disability Rights California works in partnership with NARC staff to assist students with disabilities in education, employment, health, and housing issues. The collaborative group consists of representatives from: Protection & Advocacy , Sacramento Native American Health Center, California Indian Manpower Consortium, Capitol Area Indian Resources, Washoe Native TANF program, Inter-Tribal Council of California, and the Native American Studies program of California State University of Sacramento.
Open House for Learning Center in San Diego
Native American Affairs Advocate Phyllis Preston and Staff Attorney Lauren Giardina joined the San Diego community and friends of Southern California American Indian Resource (SCAIR) to celebrate the opening of the newly established American Indian Learning Center on April 9, 2008. This learning center will provide tutorial services, cultural activities, and a resource library for Native Americans connecting with various educational, health, and community services.
Over 35 people attended the event. Protection & Advocacy staff provided pamphlets and other disability rights publications to individuals at the open house. Future training on special education and possible community clinics held on site at the center will be discussed with SCAIR staff.
Ethiopian Community Presents to Multicultural Affairs
Staff San Diego Regional staff, Tara Lindhardt and Multicultural Affairs Advocate Griselda Delgadillo were instrumental in contacting key leaders from the Ethiopian community. Mr. Tsegaye Wundeh, a person with a disability, and Ayleni Debah, from the Alliance for Africa, presented at the outreach statewide meeting. The presentation in San Diego was videoconferenced to our four regional offices. The meeting began with an introduction from the outreach unit and was followed by a brief overview of Protection & Advocacy services.
Mr. Wundeh and Ms. Debah introduced themselves and provided a short history about culture and language of the Ethiopian community. Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with hundreds of tribes and 83 languages with 200 dialects. The three major dialects are Tigrigna, Oramigna and Amharic. Amharic is most prominent of the local languages. The name Amharic originates from the Amhara people who live in the highlands of Ethiopia.
Mr. Wundeh shared that there are approximately 8,000 to 10,000 individuals from Ethiopia residing in San Diego. Los Angeles and the Bay Area have approximately 100,000 individuals from Ethiopia. He also shared insightful information about being a person with a disability and how the community perceives people with disabilities.
Ms. Debah, shared that Ethiopians do not have institutions or organizations that provide services for person with disabilities. The Alliance for Africa serves everyone in the community, providing interpreting and case management services. She advised that when assisting a community member, ask for their particular language and preference in interpreters. It is important to work with interpreters that the individual trusts. Ms. Debah, also stated individuals have to be educated about disability. They must come together in harmony in order to ask for assistance.
Questions and answers were asked of the presenters during the meeting. The meeting was informative and educational.
Disability Rights California December 2008
Reaching Out to the Community
Outreach Coming Soon:
San Diego Regional office in collaboration with Exceptional Family Resource Center (EFRC) sessions of Special Education Training series called, “You Can Do It” will happen August.
The 22nd Annual Supported Life conference, “Dignity and Justice for All” will be held in Sacramento this in October. This year Disability Rights California staff will work in collaboration with Sacramento “STAND DOWN” serving Veterans with disabilities. Legal clinics and community events happening in Yuba, Sutter, and Sacramento.
Los Angeles Regional office will participate at the “Buddy Walk” happening this October. Disability Rights California staff will provide Social Security Benefit trainings in high demand in the Tri-County areas in September.
Oakland Regional office will participate in the “3rd Annual Heritage Day” targeting the San Jose Vietnamese community in August.
Disability Rights California staff will participate in the “Project Homeless Connect” assisting homeless individuals with disabilities. Disability Rights California’s, Native American Affairs staff will participate in the “Community Health & Safety Fair” in Oroville in September and “Auburn Big Time– Pow Wow” in Colfax happening this October.