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Listening Session in Inland Empire Connects Community Members to State and Federal Representatives

February 20, 2020

Listening Session in Inland Empire Connects Community Members to State and Federal Representatives

SAN BERNARDINO – Community members including people with developmental disabilities and their family members gathered at San Bernardino Valley College last night to discuss how they have dealt with emergency situations including wildfires, and active shooters and what resources they need. This event was hosted by the Administration on Community Living’s Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (OIDD) and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) to provide a forum where the federal representatives from the OIDD could collect stories and recommendations.

Prior to the listening session portion of the event, various government representatives and local leaders gave remarks, including:

Levi Bailey, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Supervising Investigator
Mona Bontty, CalOES Emergency Management Instructor
Beth Burt, Inland Empire Autism Society Executive Director
Aaron Carruthers, SCDD Executive Director
Kelli Catlett, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Chief Deputy District Attorney
Allison Cruz, OIDD Acting Director
Tamica Foots-Rachal, SCDD San Bernardino Regional Manager
Esmerelda Vazquez, Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes’ District Representative

The OIDD representatives asked attendees to share their experience regarding emergency preparedness, evacuation, and immediate needs.

Many of the attendees spoke about their experiences responding to recent emergencies and suggested ideas and plans for better and improved preparedness. Some of the ideas discussed were ensuring that deaf and hard of hearing people are made aware of announcements, involving local media to spread the message of preparedness, and creating collaboration between local organizations. These ideas were later written down as recommendations for the OIDD to bring back to its federal partners.

A woman writing on a poster board

Councilmember Kara Ponton writes down her emergency preparedness recommendations. High quality photo is available at https://scdd.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2020/02/Councilmember-Kara-Ponton-writes-down-her-emergency-preparedness-recommendations.-2.jpg.

OIDD Kicks Off Its First California Listening Session in Chico

February 18, 2020

Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (OIDD) Kicks Off Its First California Listening Session in Chico

CHICO – Representatives of the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) and the federal Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (OIDD) met in Northern California today to start off OIDD’s listening session series in California. This is OIDD’s 15th listening session, and its goal is to hear about how people prepare for disasters and how they are recovering from the recent natural and man-made emergency events. OIDD representatives are meeting with people with disabilities, family members, and service providers to discuss what worked, what did not work, and what resources are still needed in times of emergencies.

The first stop of the listening session series in California was Chico. The OIDD representatives toured Paradise to observe the fire-impacted areas. The tour was led by Charles Nutt, a former SCDD Councilmember who lost his home due to the Paradise Fire.

At a town hall style event at the Chico Masonic Family Center, outreach tables were set up by local organizations and agencies including Far Northern Regional Center, Disability Rights California, and CAL FIRE Butte Unit. The regional focus of today’s listening session was wildfires and public safety power shutoffs (PSPS), and the speakers at the afternoon event were:

  • Shelby Boston, Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services Director
  • Aaron Carruthers, SCDD Executive Director
  • Allison Cruz, OIDD Acting Director
  • Melissa Gruhler, Far Northern Regional Center Executive Director
  • Roger Hatton, Shasta County Far Northern Regional Center Board of Director Member
  • Bob Irvine, California Vocations Retired Director
  • Sarah May, SCDD North State Regional Manager
  • Vance Taylor, CalOES (Governor’s Office of Emergency Services) Office of Access and Functional Needs Chief

The listening session in Chico included a facilitated conversation in which audience members answered questions about preparedness process, challenges, shelter, and mental health from OIDD Acting Director Allison Cruz and her team.

After collecting recommendations and stories from the audience, Cruz exclaimed, “My team and I are grateful for the warm welcome we received in Chico today. The challenges and best practices the participants shared with us will be extremely helpful as we provide these recommendations across federal partners and programs to inform their work in the Northern California region.”

The OIDD and SCDD representative meet in Sacramento tomorrow morning to discuss the State Plan then head to San Bernardino to meet with Councilmembers representing the region.

Councilmembers Set Policy Priorities at the First Council Meeting of 2020

February 11, 2020

Councilmembers Set Policy Priorities at the First Council Meeting of 2020

SACRAMENTO – The State Council on Developmental Disabilities decided on its policy priorities at the first council meeting of the year on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Hilton Arden-West in Sacramento. This meeting was presided by the new Chair and Vice Chair of the Council, Maria Marquez and Julie Austin, respectively. The Council is focusing in 2020 its policy priorities on employment, housing, safety and education, and the Councilmembers will focus on advocating for systematic change in these areas to improve the lives of Californians with developmental disabilities.

Marquez and Austin are an experienced pair that has been serving as interim Chair and Vice Chair since July 2019 and were officially elected to lead the Council at the meeting in November 2019.

Chair Maria Marquez of Los Angeles is a self-advocate. She is a member of the Regional Center of the East Bay’s Board of Directors and Consumer Advisory Committee and serves as vice president of the center’s Self-Determination Program Local Advisory Committee. Maria is a consumer advocate for the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center, peer advocate for the Family Resource Center and Disability Rights California. She also serves as a member of the Developmental Disabilities Council of Contra Costa County and works at the University of Southern California’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). She is a statewide representative at the Council.

Vice Chair Julie Austin of San Diego is a family advocate who has been an independent special education and disabilities advocate since 2001 and an In-Home Supportive Services caregiver since 2010. She represents San Diego and Imperial Counties at the Council.

Marquez expressed her gratitude and excitement to be chosen to lead the Council and stated, “Vice Chair Julie Austin and I are looking forward to serving Californians with developmental disabilities and their families. 2020 is going to be a fantastic year full of education, communication, and activities.”

The next Council meeting is set for March 17 in Sacramento and every meeting is open to the public. March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and some Councilmembers will visit their state legislators at the Capitol the day after the March Council meeting.

Two ladies sitting next to each other

Julie Austin (left) and Maria Marquez (right). High quality photo of this photo is available at https://scdd.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2019/11/IMG_0632.jpg.

Governor Newsom Signs Bill to Protect Students with Disabilities in Non-public Schools

October 7, 2019

Governor Newsom Signs Bill to Protect Students with Disabilities in Non-public Schools

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1172 last Wednesday authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier. In 2018, a student in El Dorado Hills died after he reportedly stopped breathing after being placed in a prone restraint for over an hour. The California State Council on Developmental Disabilities was pleased to testify in support of the bill that takes important steps forward to protecting students attending non-public schools.

AB 1172 adds safeguards to enhance student safety by requiring on-site monitoring visits to non-public schools, requiring non-public schools to report incidents involving law enforcement to the California Department of Education (CDE), and allowing CDE to suspend or revoke the certification of a non-public school if the health or safety of a student is being compromised.

“I am delighted to hear Governor Newsom signed AB 1172. We are grateful for Assemblymember Frazier and Superintendent Thurmond’s leadership to ensure our students including those with intellectual or developmental disabilities are protected in school” stated Maria Marquez, Interim Chairperson of the Council.

Assemblymember Frazier responded to the signing of AB 1172 by stating, “I want to thank the Governor for signing AB 1172, legislation that will ensure the safety of students at specialized nonpublic schools. The most vulnerable students in our state deserve a safe place to learn,” said Assemblymember Jim Frazier. “I am also grateful to Superintendent Tony Thurmond for his partnership on this issue. Our exceptional students benefit from expanded educational opportunities and I look forward to collaborating with the Superintendent on this subject in the future.”

Video of AB 1172 in Assembly Education Committee (April 24, 2019): https://youtu.be/dewxc0oGup0

Governor Newsom Signs State Council Sponsored Apprenticeship Bill into Law

August 2, 2019

Governor Newsom Signs State Council Sponsored Apprenticeship Bill into Law

SACRAMENTO – The State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) commends Governor
Newsom for signing AB 1019 into law. AB 1019 was authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier and
sponsored by SCDD. This bill amends the California Labor Code to expand membership of the Division of
Apprenticeship Standards’ Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (IACA) to include the
Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation and the Executive Director of the State Council on
Developmental Disabilities.

“We are excited to welcome the Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation and the Executive
Director of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities as ex officio members of the IACA. Their
addition to the IACA will be an invaluable resource for us as we continue to expand State Registered
Apprenticeship opportunities in California,” stated Eric Rood, Chief of the Division of Apprenticeship
Standards (DAS).

AB 1019 also requires the creation of a subcommittee to address apprenticeships for people with
disabilities. The IACA was created in 2018 by AB 235 with the goal of fostering, promoting, and
developing opportunities for competitive employment through apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships are not only crucial to the success of our economy, but also provide an important career
pathway and opportunity toward competitive integrated employment for workers with and without
disabilities. The Department of Rehabilitation looks forward to working with all stakeholders to jointly build
and advance a strong and inclusive workforce in California,” stated Joe Xavier, Director of the Department
of Rehabilitation.

“Apprenticeships provide an important avenue to opening competitive employment opportunities to people
with disabilities. The Council looks forward to joining the IACA and working together to create new
opportunities by formally connecting these pathways to employment,” stated Maria Marquez, SCDD
Interim Chair. “The State Council is grateful for the leadership of Governor Newsom and
Assemblymember Frazier.