Georgia Advocacy Office, Inc. (GAO) is a private non-profit corporation. Our mission is to work with and for oppressed and vulnerable individuals in Georgia who are labeled as disabled or mentally ill to secure their protection and advocacy. GAO’s work is mandated by Congress, and GAO has been designated by Georgia as the agency to implement Protection and Advocacy within the state.

    • GAO was founded in 1977.
    • GAO is mandated to exist by federal legislation and receives federal funding that comes with that mandate.
    • GAO has seven different programs, each begun when a different piece of federal legislation was passed.
    • Each program uses a combination of supporting self advocacy, citizen involvement, staff advocacy, and legal advocacy to protect and advocate for the rights of Georgians with disabilities.
    • We also focus on community building and partnering with self advocates and community associates to widen the network of support that is available in Georgia for people with disabilities and those who care about them.
    • Citizen Advocacy is another strategy that is used to protect and advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities in several communities in Georgia.  Citizen advocacy happens when a valued citizen, unpaid and independent of human services, creates an intentional relationship with a person who is at increased risk of abuse, neglect and social exclusion.  The citizen advocate chooses one of many ways to understand, respond to and represent the partner’s interests as if they were the advocate’s own.  This allows the gifts and concerns of the person with the disability to be brought forth into the circles of ordinary community life.  We believe relationships with people who are loyal and free from conflict of interest are what make all people safer.  It also helps create a space for our communities to be enriched by all of its members.

The following United States Code and Code of Federal Regulations citations provide the authority for P&A systems in each state, including Georgia:

  • Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights (PADD) Act of 2000, – 42 U.S.C. §15041 et. seq. 45 C.F.R. § 1386.19 to 1386.25
  • Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act – 42 U.S.C. §10801 et. seq. 42 C.F.R. § 51.1 to 51.46
  • Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR) – 29 U.S.C. §794e
  • Assistive Technology for Individuals with Disabilities (PAAT) – 29 U.S.C. §3012(a)(1)
  • Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS), Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, as amended (TWWIA) 42 U.S.C. § 320b-21
  • Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access (PAVA), 42 USC §§ 15461-15462
  • Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI)