Category Archives: Member Reports and Comment

Family Advocates United/PHA End-of-Year Letter

Happy Holidays! We hope that you have had family celebrations and gatherings this holiday season. Our family has had two high-spirited holiday parties with the staff of my sister’s group home and day program. There were royal banquets of salmon, lumpia, many types of noodles, dancing, games, laughter, and opportunities to get to know staff and other family members.
In my sister’s case, I have urged DDS to bring any foreign visitors that they host to Fairfield and Suisun City to my sister’s home and day program to show them how California serves people with I/DD. The physical facilities are first class. The stability, professionalism, and dedication of the staff are even more extraordinary. The day program director was my sister’s day program coordinator at SDC. My sister’s lifelong anxiety has diminished. She lives with three women she was with at SDC from thirty to sixty years. One PT at the home worked at Bentley with my sister. I cannot imagine higher quality care anywhere in the world than what my sister receives.Of course, we know that not everyone’s homes, services and programs are exemplary. I know that there will be medical and dental challenges. Family Advocates United/ PHA exists to tackle problems and fight for services, dignity, and opportunities. 

We have system challenges. Access to sedation and anesthesia dental is not adequate. The Santa Rosa health hub that we successfully advocated for is a model of integrated and coordinated medical, dental, and behavioral care. The health care professionals there are already or are becoming specialists in developmental medicine, dentistry, and mental health. We are learning from that model and are supporting access to similar high quality integrated services elsewhere. 

And we see problems with behavior care, especially for those in crisis or who need the most intensive mental health care and facilities. Improvements have been made in part due to our advocacy during the closure process. Progress has been made, but there is more work to be done. In one county, homes and programs are losing staff to the airport and even McDonald’s. Pay rates remain an issue.  Work options for our family members are very limited and no one seems to have access to the kind of job coaches that they had at SDC.

Family Advocates United continues to punch above its weight. Three board members are serving on the new DDS task force and its work groups. This multi-year effort will result in system goals and, if we are successful, actions. We are concentrating on safety net and community services. Thus, we will be on the ground floor doing all that we can to influence improvement of the system, as well as bringing forward specific flaws or failures, as they come to our attention. The first meeting took place earlier this month in Sacramento.
Policy papers and task force reports are known for collecting dust. Kathleen Miller served on the last task force. We were able to use sections of its report to build support for improved safety net services and the Santa Rosa health hub. 

We are in the process of adding two short interviews of former staff to our documentary, “Truly Human.” There will be a showing at Sonoma State University in February. Senator Mike McGuire has committed to attending the film. The film sold out twice at the Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma. It was also well-received at the Alexander Valley Film Festival this fall. We hope to have copies of the film available or streaming access in the next couple of months.

Please check our calendar at Our legislative meeting will be on March 14th. 

We continue to rely on your financial support. We are incurring rental costs at Hanna Boys’ Center, accounting and bookkeeping expenses, film production charges, and travel to meetings in Sacramento and Southern California. 


Become a Member of Family Advocates United/PHA or Renew Your Membership

Membership dues are $25 Individual or $30 Family.  Know that you are helping to support the work of the Family Advocates United/PHA on behalf of the  developmentally disabled people in Northern California. Copies of the Eldridge Gazette, current and past issues are available on this website. 

Make a Financial Donation

Family Advocates United/PHA is an independent family led organization with no financial ties to any government agencies.  This gives families who join Family Advocates United/PHA a strong and independent voice.

The Family Advocates United/PHA is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization registered in the State of California, and all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
[tax identification number is 94-6165575]

To make a contribution, you can mail a check made out to
Parent Hospital Association to: 

Beverly Austin
Parent Hospital Association
2683 17th Avenue
San Francisco, Ca 94116-3004

We hope to see you at the meeting on March 14th. Please feel to reach out and let us know about any good news, problems, or ways that we can support your loved one and family.

Brien Farrell, President, Family Advocates United 707.494.7090