The Oaks Group is a value based stakeholder organization of parents, consumers, advocates, educators, service providers, and other professionals who believe persons with developmental disabilities should be fully included in the mainstream of community life, that children should have the opportunity to grow up in families, and adults should receive supports and services to help them live as close as possible to the way people without developmental disabilities live.
The Oaks Group was founded in 1989 by parents of children with developmental disabilities
who resided on the Oaks Unit at Sonoma Developmental Center. Initially advocating for better
conditions at the center, the Oaks Group parents strongly believed there should be more
options for families and the focus of their effort quickly grew to demanding an array of stable,
high quality, community based living arrangements. The Oaks Groups' major accomplishment
was spearheading the Coffelt v. DDS lawsuit that resulted in developing an increase in
community based services for persons with developmental disabilities.
Following the lawsuit settlement and enactment of an update to California's Lanterman Act,
the original membership felt their goals had been accomplished and the Oaks Group slowly
However, recent events in California show the need for an organization whose membership
subscribes to and tries to live by the core values of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities
Services Act. We feel The Oaks Group must rise from the ashes and begin anew. As of
Independance Day, 1997, we have revived our organization and now begin the task of
countering the forces whose interests lie in preserving the status quo or taking our system
The Oaks Group believes that persons with developmental disabilities should participate in
valued ways with their friends, neighbors and co-workers in all areas of community life, with
supports being provided that enable them to have real choices in where they live, work and
socialize. Families should be respected and supported in their role as primary decision
makers on behalf of their minor children. They should be able to make choices that determine
which services will be provided, as well as where and by whom they will be administered.
Professionals should join in partnership with families, and support their cultural preferences,
values and lifestyles. This support should build on family strengths, natural supports and
existing community resources. Minor children should live and grow within a natural or
surrogate family, attend their neighborhood schools and play with non-disabled children of
their own age. Adults with developmental disabilities should be supported in natural settings in
their local communities with opportunities to live in their own homes, be involved in meaningful
activities in integrated settings, and participate in the life of their communities. They should
have a choice of lifestyle options, and be supported in reaching their own preferred future with
the least amount of government involvement and control. The developmental services system
should support rather than control individuals and families and should promote self-determination
The Oaks Group mission is to remove the word "should" from the Oaks Group vision.
We have learned through our interaction with the policymakers in Sacramento, that they will
not or cannot respond to the concerns of one individual. As a group, speaking on the behalf of
many, we can not only get the attention of the politicians, WE CAN GET RESULTS! We are
capable of bringing the issues into focus so that our elected representatives must see them,
recognize them, and deal with them. With every new member, The Oaks Group will be able to
be heard a little better, and will therefore be able to cause more positive results for all
Californians with developmental disabilities.
As The Oaks Group, it is our goal to continue to press the state into fulfilling the intent of the
Lanterman Act and the Department of Developmental Services former Vision for a Preferred Future.
As individuals we will never be heard. Let all our small voices be heard as one loud informed,
forceful voice that must be reckoned with by those who so greatly affect the lives of all
Californians with developmental disabilities.
We want you to join as a member of the Oaks Group. The only enrollment fee is a belief that
people with developmental disabilities should be fully included in the mainstream life of the
community. We will send periodic newsletters and Internet updates sharing with you what we
are doing, keeping you abreast of important events, and letting you know how you can help.
The Oaks Group has two membership categories:
California members- Active participants in achieving the mission of and vision of the Oaks
Friends and Supporters of the Oaks Group- Those who support the mission and vision of the
Oaks Group, but are unable to be active participants, including national and international
friends and supporters.
Joining the Oaks Group is easy. Just send an email with your name, organization, address,
phone number, and membership category.
Bill Coffelt, President
The Oaks Group P.O. Box 1913
Pollock Pines, CA 95726