Minutes — November 2018 Council Meeting


  • Committee Members Present
  • John Thomas, Council Vice-Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Andrew Crim
  • Mary Faithfull, DRTX
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Jennifer Hines, TWC
  • Katlyn Le, DSHS
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Meagan Orsag, A&M-CDD
  • Michael Peace
  • Dana Perry
  • Justin Porter, TEA
  • Amy Sharp, TCDS
  • Lora Taylor
  • Rick Tisch
  • Dana Williamson, HHSC/Medicaid
  • Council Members Absent
  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Vacant – HHSC/Older Americans Act
  • Kristine Clark
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Ruth Mason
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Guests Present
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS
  • Stephanie Martinez
  • Tiffany Williams
  • Staff Present
  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Scott Daigle
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call to Order

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Friday, November 9, 2018, in the Ballroom C-E of the Embassy Suites Austin Central, 5901 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78723. Council Vice-Chair John Thomas called the meeting to order at 9:08 AM.

  1. Introductions
  2. Council members, staff and guests were introduced.
  1. Public Comments
  2. Council member Lora Taylor read prepared comments from Council member Ruth Mason who was not present. Mason provided her opinion that services for individuals who reside in the community should not be provided on state supported living center campuses through Home and Community-Based Services waiver services. Mason also shared that following the presentation from Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) staff at the August Public Policy Committee meeting, she has maintained contact and learned that the program was closed for a short period of time to restructure with the goal of providing better services.
  1. Consent Items
  2. Vice-Chair Thomas reviewed consent items including the minutes from the August 3, 2018, Council meeting and August 2, 2018, Committee of the Whole meeting.
  4. He also reviewed the excused absences of Chair Mary Durheim, Kristine Clark, Mateo Delgado, Ruth Mason and Brandon Pharris. He noted that the Council currently does not have representation from the Health and Human Services Commission Older Americans Act program.
  6. MOTION: To approve the minutes of the August 3, 2018, Council meeting and August 2, 2018, Committee of the Whole meeting, as well as the excused absences as noted.
  7. MADE BY: Lora Taylor
  8. SECOND: Hunter Adkins
  9. The motion passed without opposition. Mary Faithfull and Kristen Cox abstained from voting.
  1. Chair and Executive Director’s Report
  2. Executive Director Beth Stalvey provided updates on TCDD staff to note that Le Lien has accepted a permanent position as the Web Administrator and that Ann Bjorgo left her Grants Management Specialist position before the end of the probation period. Sperling Consulting was selected as the contractor for Communications assistance. The vacant Grants Management Specialist position has been posted for applications and staff are considering the position description for the vacant Public Policy Assistant.
  4. Stalvey reported on TCDD efforts on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities noting that over 200 people have received help from the funds designated for Hurricane Harvey relief and that a report on lessons learned is being developed. This quarter, three events were coordinated to discuss emergency preparedness and response for individuals with disabilities. In late August, Stalvey coordinated an educational visit from the North Carolina DD Council (NCDDC) Executive staff and staff from the North Carolina Emergency Management Division. In conjunction with the Texas Emergency Management Advisory Committee (TEMAC) meetings, the team from North Carolina gave a presentation at the meeting of the Texas Disability Taskforce on Emergency Management (TDEM) on their program which includes Disability Integration Specialists in the Emergency Management System. This has been a recommendation of the TDEM for Texas so the timing was appropriate to learn about the efforts in North Carolina. This team also engaged in a stakeholder summit that included representatives from the DD Councils from Arkansas and Oklahoma. Stalvey also coordinated an event for the Executive Directors from DD Councils in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 6 which includes Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. These directors met with the FEMA Region 6 Disability Integration Advisor to educate her on Council activities and offer planning resources and community connections following disaster recovery. This meeting was a first of its kind and could serve as a model for other FEMA regions. The group developed plans for future activities and engagement on this level. Stalvey also acknowledged the collaborative work of the DD Network Partners in response to Hurricane Harvey noting that the combined efforts of the agencies impacted a large number of people.
  6. Stalvey discussed the Executive Director Leadership Summit which she attended in October. The DD Council directors had the opportunity to meet with the new Administration on Disabilities Commissioner Julie Hocker. Stalvey was able to share TCDD projects that focus on employment as this is Hocker’s particular area of interest.
  8. Stalvey reviewed the performance period for spending federal funds. As discussed during the August meetings, directions have been received that all funds must be obligated and activities performed during a 24-month period with an additional 12 months to liquidate funds for work completed during the initial 24 months. Stalvey is confident that having planned projects ready to execute as funds become available will allow TCDD to spend all allocated funds in the necessary time period. Initial directions were for this to begin with FY 2019 funding but a waiver was granted for all DD Councils and this will now begin with FY 2020 funds.
  10. Stalvey also discussed efforts by staff to improve operations. She noted that results include an increase in applications for Request for Proposals (RFP). Staff are working on a new system that will streamline these applications as well as grants management. She is pleased to see the collaborative efforts within the agency.
  1. Election of Nominating Committee
  2. Vice-Chair Thomas asked the Committees to report their selections for the Nominating Committee. Rick Tisch will represent the Project Development Committee and Kris Clark will represent the Public Policy Committee. After discussion, Scott McAvoy agreed to participate as the third member.
  4. MOTION: For Scott McAvoy to join Rick Tisch and Kris Clark as the members of the Nominating Committee.
  5. MADE BY: Gladys Cortez
  6. SECOND: Michael Peace
  7. The motion passed unanimously.
  1. TCDD Public Policy Priorities
  2. Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor reported on the Committee discussion of the TCDD Public Policy Priorities. The Committee has presented priorities to include Home and Community-Based Services, Community Attendant Rates and Wages, Accessible Transportation, Accessible Parking, Employment First, and Healthcare. Taylor stated that the final priority of Least Restrictive Environment was discussed and revised as Most Integrated, Person-Centered Setting.
  4. MOTION: To approve TCDD Public Policy Priorities with revisions to include language on Most Integrated, Person-Centered Settings.
  5. MADE BY: Lora Taylor for the Public Policy Committee. (Motions from Committee do not need a second)
  6. The motion passed with Stephen Gersuk opposed.
  1. Quarterly Progress of TCDD State Plan Projects
  2. Planning Director Joanna Cordry reviewed the progress of grant projects and staff activities from the past quarter. She noted that the projects and activities are categorized by TCDD State Plan Goals and Objectives. This information is obtained through the grant project quarterly reports as well as through staff reporting. Cordry noted that members should be aware of comments as they relate to the project. She also asked members to take note of the lines referencing “activities to be developed” as these are objectives of the State Plan that need to be addressed by 2021.
  4. Executive Director Stalvey reminded members of their responsibility to monitor the state plan and this document is an easy way to track its implementation. If members have questions or suggestions for a different way to present the information, they are asked to share that with staff.
  1. Maximum Funding Amounts of TCDD Projects
  2. Executive Director Stalvey explained that due to the new rules regarding performance periods for federal funds, it may become necessary to have projects ready to implement on an expedited basis. Vice-Chair Thomas reported that the Executive Committee considered this as it reviewed applications for new grant projects and is recommending Council approval of additional projects for two grants.
  4. MOTION: To increase funding for Statewide Community Peer Supports to allow for one additional project at up to $100,000 for year one and $125,000 for years two-four.
  5. MADE BY: John Thomas for the Executive Committee.
  6. The motion passed without opposition. Dana Williamson abstained from voting.
  8. MOTION: To increase funding for Health and Wellness projects to allow for one additional project at up to $200,000 per year for five years.
  9. MADE BY: John Thomas for the Executive Committee.
  10. The motion passed without opposition. Dana Williamson abstained from voting.
  1. Future Activities for State Plan Implementation
  2. Project Development Committee Chair Gladys Cortez reported on Committee discussion of grant project executive summaries. She first discussed the Higher Education summary which would establish inclusive post-secondary education programs in Texas with the goal of allowing more individuals with developmental disabilities to attend career schools or colleges and universities. The grantee to could replicate an existing curriculum or develop a new model.
  4. MOTION: To approve up to $250,000 per year, per project, for up to five years, for three Higher Education projects.
  5. MADE BY: Gladys Cortez for the Project Development Committee.
  6. The motion passed unanimously.
  8. Cortez next reported that the Committee discussed the executive summaries for Prevention of and Response to Sexual Offenses. The first project entitled Support for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, their Families, Friends, and Allies would increase access to education and training with a goal to reduce incidents or provide a more appropriate response when it occurs. The Committee added that the project must collaborate with local advocacy groups, providers, and individuals with disabilities and that the evaluation of the applications should include evaluation of best practices in instruction methods as well as the overall quality of the training.
  10. MOTION: To approve funding of up to $150,000 per project, per year, for up to five years, to implement up to five “Prevention and Response to Sexual Offenses – Support for People with Intellectual Disabilities, their Families, Friends, and Allies” projects. The project must include collaboration with local advocacy groups, providers, and individuals with disabilities; and the evaluation of proposals must include an evaluation of the instructional methods to be used in addition to the quality of the training.
  11. MADE BY: Gladys Cortez for the Project Development Committee.
  12. The motion passed unanimously.
  14. Cortez then discussed the executive summary for Improving the Criminal Justice Response to Sexual Offenses involving People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. This project will hold at least one listening session in at least six of the HHSC public health regions to gather input from first responders, criminal justice professionals, professional organizations, and/or community members. The grantee will create a report following the sessions to provide policy recommendations for systems change including improved work by the criminal justice system on this issue. The Committee added that self-advocates with lived experience of sexual assault must be included in the planning and implementation of the project.
  16. MOTION: Approve up to $200,000 per project, per year, for one project, for up to three years, to fund a “Response to and Prevention of Sexual Offenses – Improving the Criminal Justice Response to Sexual Offense Cases Involving People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” project. The project must include at least one self-advocate who has lived experience of sexual assault as key personnel in the planning and implementation of the project.
  17. MADE BY: Gladys Cortez for the Project Development Committee.
  18. It was noted that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children does training for law enforcement throughout the state and they could be a collaborating partner on this project.
  19. The motion passed unanimously.
  21. Cortez next discussed the Preventing and Addressing Substance Use Disorder in People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities executive summary. Cortez noted that staff research found that there is little data for substance use disorders or specific treatment for people with developmental disabilities. It was also noted that while it appears the incidence of substance abuse of people with developmental disabilities may be lower than the general population, the addiction tends to be more severe. As the Committee discussed the executive summary, members agreed the focus of the project should be on a review of existing data and development of a protocol to collect additional data with the finding submitted to a peer-reviewed publication. Findings could then be used to fund a project that responds to the data if the Council chooses.
  23. MOTION: Approve up to $125,000 for one project, for up to 1 year, for a Research Substance Use Disorder in People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities project, to review existing data and information, provide recommendations for promising practices, and submit the findings to a peer-reviewed publication.
  24. MADE BY: Gladys Cortez for the Project Development Committee.
  25. The motion passed unanimously.
  27. Public Policy Committee Chair Taylor then discussed the executive summary for a Disability Advocacy Conference. She noted that the purpose of the project is to create an event for continuing education and opportunities in policy-related leadership development and advocacy skills. The project would include one statewide or several regional events to connect individuals who were previously trained through TCDD leadership and advocacy programs. Taylor asked for Council input for funding amounts as the Public Policy Committee did not feel confident in setting those amounts. Members then discussed the suggested funding amount and agreed that $150,000 was sufficient to execute an event.
  29. MOTION: Approve up to $150,000 per year, for up to three years to implement a Disability Advocacy Conference noting that the full amount of funding may not be needed for planning or evaluation years.
  30. MADE BY: Lora Taylor for the Public Policy Committee.
  31. The motion passed unanimously.
  33. Taylor next discussed the EngAGEment for Millennials executive summary which would fund projects to engage millennials with and without disabilities in leadership and advocacy activities using innovative, millennial-friendly methods. Projects would develop and demonstrate models that engage at least 75 millennials by the second year with 300 newly engaged individuals by the end of the project, provide a report with key findings and outcomes, create a user-friendly toolkit that can be used by others to improve their engagement with millennials, and provide TCDD with at least one story per year from a millennial who benefitted from the project.
  35. MOTION: Approve up to $100,000 per year, per project, for up to five years to implement a five EngAGEment with Millennials projects.
  36. MADE BY: Lora Taylor for the Public Policy Committee.
  37. The motion passed unanimously.
  38. Council members next discussed the priority order for projects and reached consensus in the addition of newly funded projects to the list.
  39. MOTION: To prioritize TCDD projects approved for funding in the following order:
    1. Person-Directed Meaningful Day Technical Assistance Mini-Grants
    2. Research Substance Use Disorder in People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    3. Higher Education
    4. Prevention and Response to Sexual Offenses – Support for People with Intellectual Disabilities, their Families, Friends, and Allies
    5. Response to and Prevention of Sexual Offenses – Improving the Criminal Justice Response to Sexual Offense Cases Involving People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    6. EngAGEment of Millennials
    7. Disability Policy Conference
  • MADE BY: Kristen Cox
  • SECOND: Lora Taylor
  • The motion passed without opposition. Dana Williamson abstained from voting.
  1. Communications and Marketing Activities Report
  2. Communications Director Joshua Ryf provided updates on activities from the previous quarter. He briefly discussed the report included in Council meeting materials that highlights social media statistics; provides summaries of the 2018 Disability Policy Academies Texas Emergency Preparedness Summit, Texas Tribune Festival, and events in which TCDD has participated; and includes a handout on Medicaid and IDD in Texas.
  4. Ryf reviewed the training on Understanding Employment Options and Supports made available through the TCDD grant to the National Disability Institute. He showed examples of the online classroom and videos which are available free to the public. They explain Social Security Disability Benefits and work incentives.
  6. Ryf provided information on “Talkwalker Alerts” which is a resource available for Council members that is similar to Google alerts. This resource will send customized email alerts on topics that an individual requests allowing them to stay informed on topics or specific individuals with the information gathered from news sites, blogs, and social media.
  8. Ryf and Council member Michael Peace discussed a Community Connections project for Council members. TCDD staff can assist members with research on inventory and connections their communities such as decision makers, disability-related and other organizations, TCDD grantees, and Partners in Policymaking graduates. Staff can then assist with providing resources and crafting messages so that members can engage with these connections. Members who are interested should contact TCDD staff.
  1. Executive Committee Report
  2. Vice-Chair Thomas reported that continuation grant funding was awarded this quarter to Reaching Families Advocacy and Support Group for the final year of a Culturally Appropriate Family Support Project and to Community Healthcore for the final year of the Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project. Four projects will be considered for continuation grant funding in February.
  4. He further reported that new grant funding was awarded to Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts (UM) for Statewide Community Services Peer Supports Specialists projects with the UM project contingent on budget negotiations. New grant funding was awarded to Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Tech University, and Special Olympics Texas for Health and Wellness projects with the Special Olympics Texas funding contingent on budget negotiations. New Grant Funding was awarded to Alamo Area Council on Governments and Border Region Behavioral Health Center for Older Adults with Developmental Disabilities and their Caregivers projects. Two event stipends and two speaker stipends were awarded this quarter.
  6. Grants Management Director Cynthia Ellison reported that no audits were completed this quarter due to the recent start of the fiscal year. She also reported that the Public Policy Fellow project at EveryChild, Inc. concluded at the end of September and that Hatching Hope has begun the Outreach and Development project on November 1, 2018.
  8. Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed the FY 2018 TCDD Administrative and Expense budget noting that at the end of the fiscal year, 87.5% of the allocated funds were spent and that the remaining funds will be reassigned to grant funds. Cantu reviewed the Summary of Funds for FY 2016 – 2019. She reported that this is the final report for FY 2016 funds and next quarter’s report will provides details for FY 2017 – 2020. All funds for FY 2017 have been assigned and will need to be spent by September 30, 2019. Although a negative balance of $279,955 shows for FY 2018 funds, this will correct itself due to unspent funds on assigned projects and delays on planned projects. Cantu also reported that the initial notice of grant award for FY 2019 was received in the amount of $424,900 and reminded members that Congress has appropriated funding for the entire year at the same amount as the prior year at $5.1 million. The Executive Committee members did not express any concerns with the agency financial reports.
  10. The Committee reviewed Conflict of Interest disclosures and no concerns were noted.
  1. Project Development Committee Report
  2. Project Development Committee Chair Cortez reported that the Committee discussed ideas for future projects including the third idea for Prevention of and Response to Sexual Offenses which would focus on a needs assessment for training of medical and mental health professionals. Other project ideas to be developed include support for Spanish speaking families of students who are English Language Learners and receive Special Education Services similar to the promotora model, transportation project based on the top issues identified by the current transportation grantee and on input from other stakeholders, and a project to support and alleviate stress for caregivers.
  1. Public Policy Committee Report
  2. Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor reported that the Committee discussed visits to the Capitol which will occur during the February meeting. As discussed during the Committee of the Whole, members will interact with legislators during a meet and greet event and provide education on the Public Policy Priority areas. There will be additional time for members to make visits to specific legislative offices.
  4. Taylor reported the Committee asked for additional information on service animals and Medicaid expansion.
  1. State Agency Representatives Quarterly Activities Report
  2. Texas Center for Disability Studies (TCDS) representative Amy Sharp reported that TCDS is recruiting for a director of the Texas Technology Access Program. She also reported that TCDS is working with the Red Cross to train local first responders on disaster response related to people with disabilities.
  4. A&M CDD representative Meagan Orsag reported on a project called Coach to Communicate which is a free support service for families of children with behavioral issues and/or autism. Dr. Jeni Ganz works with families across the state through videos and online technology to assist in behavior management. Assistance can be found at https://autism.tamu.edu/. Orsag also reported on two new projects with Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The first is a Capacity Building Conference which is a workshop that will follow a needs assessment conducted with transition educators and vocational rehabilitation (VR) transition coordinators. The needs assessment will take place in the first part of 2019 with training to follow in the second half of the year. This will allow TWC and Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff to collaborate on capacity building efforts in the communities to create and develop opportunities for improved transition services. The second project in conjunction with TWC is Project BEST (Basic Employability Skills Training) which will be a high school curriculum for pre-employment skills. This elective course will be available for students with and without disabilities. Orsag also reported on upcoming events to include the Texas Transition Conference; Able, Active and Adaptive Conference; and the Success Conference which is a regional event in the Brazos Valley.
  6. HHSC/Title XIX/Medicaid Services program representative Dana Williamson discussed the HHSC Legislative Appropriative Request (LAR) and noted that the priorities are in line with feedback from external stakeholders focusing on initiatives for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She further noted that there are 58 exceptional items for a total of $6.5 billion. She explained that exceptional items are ranked in priority order but items are grouped into categories such as I/DD services, federal compliance, etc. These groupings allow for an item which may have a ranking that is lower on the list, such as day habilitation, to be discussed with its category of federal compliance and the agency can then request the legislature fund all of the items necessary for that group. Williams noted the first priority for HHSC is Medicaid entitlement growth which is primarily acute care services but incorporates Community First Choice programs.
  8. Department of State Health Services (DSHS)/Title V/Maternal Child Health alternate representative Ivy Goldstein reported that a transition planning tool for families that has been in development for three years has launched to the public. This tool is called Texas Youth 2 Adult and is designed to assist families based on the age of their child. It includes categories for medical needs, education, social and recreational, advocacy, financial management, and employment. The tool is personalized based on responses to questions and resources are tailored to the individual.
  10. TEA representative Justin Porter reported on TEA activities to implement the strategic plan for special education. He noted that $25 million in grant funding has been awarded or posted for applications to accomplish this. $10 million of that will go toward assisting Local Education Agencies (LEAs) with costs related to a “surge” in requests for special education evaluations. School districts often have difficulty finding appropriate evaluators especially for evaluations done in languages other than English. Porter discussed the Stakeholder Engagement Plan which will obtain authentic stakeholder input through 130 focus groups and advisory committees. A grantee will handle the logistics of this project and maintain a database for stakeholders to volunteer their participation. The goal is to have thousands of volunteers so that TEA will have appropriate demographic representation for each activity. Porter further reported on 10 additional support network grants for LEAs:
    • Child Find, Evaluation, and ARD Supports
    • School, Family, and Community Engagement
    • Inclusive Services and Practices for Improved Student Outcomes
    • Support for Students Identified with Autism
    • Intervention Best Practices
    • Support for Students with Intensive Needs
    • Support for Students with Sensory Impairments
    • Support for Students in Small and Rural LEAs
    • Child-centered Transitions
    • Support for Students with Multiple Exceptionalities and Multiple Needs
  13. Grant opportunities for these networks are available at: https://tea.texas.gov/TexasSPED/
  15. TWC/Rehabilitation Act representative Jennifer Hines reported on a focus on transition services. She has been made aware of increased collaborative efforts between school districts and VR transition coordinators as well as opportunities available at institutions of higher learning. She also noted that there are pre-employment services such as summer activities available for younger students (14-15 years old) who don’t have to have a full VR case opened with TWC.
  1. Announcements and Updates
  2. Council members discussed dates and locations of future meetings of February 6-8, 2019, May 1-3, 2019, August 7-9, 2019, and November 6-8, 2019 which is tentative.


Vice-Chair Thomas adjourned the meeting at 12:33 PM.