Minutes — May 2018 Council Meeting


Council Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Lisa Akers-Owen, HHSC/Older Americans Act
  • Kristen Cox
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Jennifer Kaut, TWC/Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Penny Larkin, HHSC/Medicaid
  • Katlyn Le, DSHS/Maternal-Child Health
  • Ruth Mason
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Megan Orsag, A&M-CDD
  • Michael Peace
  • Keith Swink, TEA/IDEA
  • Lora Taylor
  • John Thomas
  • Rick Tisch

Guests Present

  • Chase Bearden
  • Andre Cadnik
  • Marcus Compis
  • Terrence Elder
  • Katelyn Ennis
  • Lauren Gerken
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS/Maternal-Child Health
  • Linda Litzinger
  • Alexandra Noble
  • Emrean Stetz
  • Christa Walikonis
  • Mark Williams
  • Tiffany Williams
  • Anthony Zedimann

Council Members Absent

  • Hunter Adkins
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Kristine Clark
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Mary Faithfull, DRTX
  • Dana Perry
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Amy Sharp, TCDS

Staff Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Danny Fikac
  • Robert Garcia
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Friday, May 4, 2018, in the Ballroom B-C of the Embassy Suites Austin Central, 5901 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78723. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 9:06 AM.

  1. Introductions
    Council members, staff and guests were introduced.

  2. Public Comments
    Students from the Texas A&M PATHS and Bridge to Career programs offered public comments and thanked the Council for previous funding of these programs. Instructional Assistant Andrei Cadrik explained the PATHS program which works closely with Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Vocational Rehabilitation programs to help these students become trained and employed as direct support professionals. Students Marcus Compas, Emrean Stetz, Katelyn Ennis, and Terrence Elder described their experiences in the programs noting that in addition to earning a diploma and gaining skills to become employed, the program taught independent living skills and allowed them to gain experience in working toward their goals. Council members asked questions about their experiences, interactions with instructors and advisors, and goals for the future.

  3. Consent Items
    Chair Durheim reviewed consent items including the minutes from the February 9, 2018, Council meeting and February 8, 2017, Committee of the Whole meeting. It was noted that the Council minutes as presented need to have the date of the meeting corrected in the title of the document.

    She also reviewed the excused absences of Hunter Adkins, Kimberly Blackmon, Kristine Clark, Gladys Cortez, Mateo Delgado, Dana Perry, and Brandon Pharris, as well as program representatives from Disability Rights Texas and the Texas Center for Disability Studies. Durheim reported that Council member David Taylor had resigned his position on the Council due to family and work conflicts.

    Durheim also noted that new representatives from state programs have all attended orientation and are eligible to vote on Council business. This includes Stephanie Muth and Dana Williamson from HHSC/Medicaid, Justin Porter and Keith Swink from TEA/IDEA, and Katlyn Le from DSHS/Maternal and Child Health.

    MOTION:To approve the minutes of the February 9, 2018, Council meeting and February 8, 2018, Committee of the Whole meeting with corrections as noted, as well as the excused absences as noted.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Kristen Cox
    The motion passed unanimously.(May 2018 Meeting Materials, Tab 15)

  4. Focus on Inclusion
    Chair Durheim noted a change in the schedule to address this agenda item at this point in the meeting. The Council viewed the short film “The Silent Child” which won the 2018 Academy Award for Short Film (Live Action). The movie featured a young girl with a hearing impairment whose family was resistant to sign language and how her world improved once she was taught that form of communication by a care-giver.

    Council members next received a presentation by TCDD Policy Fellow Tiffany Williams. In her position at the Coalition for Texans with Disabilities, Williams drafted a report on Inclusive Education in Texas and presented that information. She discussed the definition of inclusion as well as the legal requirements from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). She noted that research shows students with disabilities who are served in inclusive classrooms earned higher grades and standardized test scores, have better attendance and have fewer discipline referrals than students in segregated classrooms. Williams further discussed key strategies for educating students with disabilities including Universal Design Learning as well as funding barriers. Recommendations for improvement in Texas include but are not limited to adjusting the special education funding weights and providing professional development and supports for teachers on inclusive classrooms.

  5. Future Activities for State Plan Implementation
    Chair Durheim reported that the Executive Committee considered the amounts of grant funding for TCDD Policy Fellows. Each project is approved for up to $67,500 per year for up to two years and the current amounts approved for this project allow for up to two projects in year 1 ($135,000) with up to two additional projects added in years 2-5 ($270,000 per year) and up to two projects concluding in year 6 ($135,000). Due to the success of these projects and the strength of the applications, the Executive Committee proposes funding for an additional $135,000 per year for up to two additional fellows per year. This would allow a total of up to six projects for years 3-5 and up to 4 projects concluding in year 6. Durheim noted that the Executive Committee awarded a project to one organization and would award a second project if funding was approved.

    MOTION: To increase funding for TCDD Policy Fellows by $135,000 per year for up to two additional projects per year for the remaining years of the grant.
    MADE BY: Mary Durheim for the Executive Committee. (Motions from Committee do not need a second.)
    The motion passed unanimously. (May 2018 Meeting Materials, Tab 3)

    Rick Tisch, acting as Chair of the Project Development Committee, reported on Committee discussion of proposed executive summaries. He first described Meaningful Day Mini-Grants which would allow disability services providers to develop activities that would increase community connections and involvement, increase expectations for community jobs, provide individual supports for independence, and increase opportunities for participation in an individual’s chosen activities. Examples of activities include spending time with friends, exercising, taking classes, volunteering, working in integrated settings and would be based on an individual’s goals, not programming that is currently offered. TCDD would assemble a technical assistance team to provide direction and assistance to providers so that participants have person-directed meaningful days.

    MOTION: To approve up to $15,000 per organization, for up to 10 organizations, for two years, to develop Meaningful Day Mini-Grants.
    MADE BY: Rick Tisch for the Project Development Committee.
    The motion passed unanimously. (May 2018 Meeting Materials, Tab 10)

    Tisch next described the executive summary for New Initiatives projects. This funding would allow organizations to present projects they find to be of importance. The topics could be varied but would be required to related to one of the TCDD State Plan Goals and Objectives. Applicants would need to describe the project and planned outcomes as well as document the achievements of the projects and barriers to those achievements. Funding is proposed for three projects at up to $100,000 per year, per project, for up to four years.

    MOTION: To approve up three projects at up to $100,000 per year, per project, for up to four years each, for New Initiatives projects.
    MADE BY: Rick Tisch for the Project Development Committee.
    The motion passed unanimously. (May 2018 Meeting Materials, Tab 10)

    Tisch then discussed the executive summary for a Media Fellows program. This project would support experienced media professionals to train and mentor people with developmental disabilities to be more effective in working in communication and mass media outlets. The goal would be for people with developmental disabilities to participate in the creation of media about issues that impact them. This would increase visibility, better inform the public, and give positive representation of people with disabilities. Types of media would be varied and could include newspapers, books, videos/film, social media, podcasts, magazines, graphic design, and photography. The Committee expressed a desire for one of the fellowships to offer content in multiple languages.

    MOTION: To approve up to $67,500 per entity, for up to 2 entities, for two years, for TCDD Media Fellows with at least one to offer content in multiple languages.
    MADE BY: Rick Tisch for the Project Development Committee.
    The motion passed unanimously. (May 2018 Meeting Materials, Tab 10)

    Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor reported on the Committee recommendation to fund a project that summarizes the key products, deliverables, and lessons learned from TCDD grant projects. This information would be used in ongoing public policy education and advocacy.

    MOTION: To approve up to $10,000 for a contractor to compile a grant summary report and database for projects funded by TCDD in the past 15 years (or as data is available).
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor for the Public Policy Committee.
    The motion passed unanimously. (May 2018 Meeting Materials, Tab 10)

    Chair Durheim reported that the Executive Committee discussed an increase to funding of the Partners in Policymaking program. The contractor for the program has determined the feasibility of holding an additional class in the Rio Grande Valley area to coincide with the class based in Austin. The class would use the same format and be held simultaneously with some of the presentations streamed live for the second class. It would allow an additional 15-20 participants for the program.

    MOTION: To increase funding for Texas Partners in Policymaking contract for one year by $100,000 to conduct a second class in the Rio Grande Valley.
    MADE BY: Mary Durheim for the Executive Committee.
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Planning Director Joanna Cordry explained the action of the Council to review the projects approved for funding and propose a priority order. Typically, this is offered from the Project Development Committee but since funding recommendations have come from the Public Policy Committee as well this quarter, all Council members should provide input including the new projects that were just approved. A recommendation to prioritize in the order that they were approved was presented. It was noted that the Summary of TCDD projects needed to be completed prior to the 2019 Texas Legislature in order to have that information during legislative visits.

    MOTION: To prioritize TCDD projects approved for funding in the following order:

    1. Public Policy in TCDD Grant Projects Summary
    2. Person-Directed Meaningful Day Technical Assistance Mini-Grants
    3. New Initiatives
    4. Media Fellows Program
    5. Community Outreach Coordination Project (Second project)

    MADE BY: Rick Tisch
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously. (May 2018 Meeting Materials, Tab 16)

  6. Chair & Executive Director’s Report
    Chair Durheim paid compliments to TCDD staff on their work to implement changes recommended by the AIDD/NACDD technical assistance office and to streamline processes such as project application review and grant monitoring. She reported that she recently spent two days in the TCDD office reviewing the changes and new procedures and appreciated the creative efforts and hard work from all staff members.

    Executive Director Beth Stalvey provided updates on TCDD staff to note that Sylvia Medina recently accepted a full-time position as a Grants Management Specialist and that Ann Bjorgo was also selected as a Grants Management Specialist and started with TCDD on April 16, 2018. Stalvey also reported that Ashley Ford was recently promoted to Public Policy Specialist and that she expected an announcement on the selection of the Public Policy Director to happen soon. The needs of the organization are being evaluated prior to posting the Public Policy/Communications Assistant position.

    Stalvey reported that TCDD continues to work with the Arc of Texas to aid families following Hurricane Harvey. Assistance has been provided to approximately 70 families and needs of others are being assessed. There are families still residing in hotels and with the amount of time that has passed, the needs become more complex. Services are being provided to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families members who do not have support from other organizations. TCDD is working with the Administration on Community Living (ACL) and the Administration on Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) to discuss disaster relief efforts related to individuals with disabilities and will collaborate on reports and presentations about lessons learned in this area.

    Stalvey reported that final funding in the Congressional Budget for all Councils for FY 2018 was more than expected with a $3 million increase from FY 2017 to a total of $76 million across all 56 Councils.

    Stalvey, along with TCDD Public Policy Specialist Linda Logan, attended the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington DC which is 2-day summit on federal issues. Lauren Gerken, TCDD Policy Fellow at the Arc of Texas, attended as well as others from advocacy organizations in Texas.

    Stalvey reported a recent incident of some Council members receiving an email directly from a grantee. She assured members that this was done without knowledge of TCDD staff and that staff make every effort to keep Council email addresses confidential. If individuals wish to contact Council members, the information is forwarded to members by staff instead of releasing email or other contact information to the public. We must adhere to individual privacy and the Open Meetings Act.

    Stalvey reported a productive work session on Thursday evening regarding social media and thanked Communications Director Joshua Ryf for the information. TCDD would like to increase presence on social media on Council meetings to share the information that is presented and the work that is accomplished. Members are encouraged to participate and were reminded of the etiquette and the importance of being positive.

  7. Quarterly Progress of TCDD State Plan Projects
    Executive Director Stalvey reminded members they are responsible for oversight of the agency budget and monitoring the progress of the state plan through projects and activities. Staff developed a new document that shows the status of projects and activities within each state plan goal and objective. Comments are also included for projects that are have delays or concerns. Members were encouraged to contact staff with any questions regarding a specific project.

  8. Communications and Marketing Activities Report
    Communications Director Ryf provided updates on activities from the previous quarter. He first reported on a recent blog post written by Public Policy Specialist Logan on autism services including state and federal funding for specific services and the potential issues to be addressed during the 2019 legislative session.

    Ryf discussed recent grantee events including the Texas Partners in Policymaking graduation for the 2017-2018 class. It took place at the Texas State Capitol on April 14, 2018 with 29 participants graduating. Texas Senator Judith Zaffirini as well as Chair Durheim attended and spoke to the graduates and their friends and families. The application period for the 2018-2019 class just ended with over 200 applications submitted.

    Ryf reported on the TCDD Disability Policy Academy which has held two sessions with positive feedback and plans to continue on a monthly basis. TCDD Policy Fellows as well as their mentors, TCDD staff, and other invited guests are discussing different disability-related topics each session.

    Ryf reported that he, Logan and Executive Director Stalvey coordinated a day’s worth of training for transition specialists from Northeast Independent School District in San Antonio. Attendees received policy updates, information on guardianship alternatives and presentations from TCDD grantees on employment and self-advocacy.

    Ryf shared examples of social media posts from the #SideBySideTx campaign and noted that the Joseph Thomas Foundation and Marbridge Foundation were active participants in this effort.

    TCDD Executive Assistant Koren Vogel and Ryf discussed outreach efforts at events and conferences. Vogel attended resource fairs and workshops in Longview and Beaumont hosted by Baylor College of Medicine on genetics as they relate to developmental disabilities where she met with parents as well as service providers. She also attended the 2018 Climate and Diversity Conference at Texas A&M University to speak with attendees about TCDD. Ryf reported that he attended the Independent Living Region VI Conference in Dallas and connected with Centers for Independent Living throughout the state.

    Ryf also discussed upcoming conferences and events and noted that May has been designated as the awareness month Mental Health, Older Americans, and National Mobility.

  9. Executive Committee Report
    Chair Durheim reported that continuation grant funding was awarded this quarter to Educational Programs Inspiring Communities for Youth Leadership Development project and to Texas State Independent Living Council for the Accessible Transportation Summits project. She further reported that new grant funding was awarded to Easter Seals of Central Texas and Family to Family for TCDD Policy Fellows projects. One translation stipend, six event stipends and three speaker stipends were awarded this quarter.

    Executive Director Stalvey reviewed the Grants Risk Assessment and Independent Audit Status Report and reported no concerns.

    Durheim reported that the Executive Committee considered an appeal of the decision from the February 2018 meeting to not award continuation grant funding to Texas A&M University for the Higher Education Collaborative project. She noted that the appeals process revealed additional progress. She added that Texas A&M consistently does good work on its grant projects but there were difficulties in the timely implementation of this specific project. The Committee considered the impact of re-posting the project as well as the progress reported in the final weeks of the project and voted to reverse the decision in February and award funding for the second year of the project. Durheim explained that it was conditional on the grantee acceptance.

    Operations Director Cantu reviewed the quarterly financial reports including the operating expenses and summary of project funds. She reviewed the Operating Expenses to note that 38% of funds have been expended with six months of the fiscal year passed. Cantu reviewed the Summary of Funds for FY 2016 – 2019. All funds for FY 2016 have been assigned and will need to be spent or returned to AIDD. $378,805 of FY 2017 funds remains to be assigned to grantees prior to September 30, 2018. Although the report shows a negative balance for FY 2018 funds, this is expected to become level due to unspent funds from current grant projects, delayed starts of new projects and funding assigned to RFPs which may not eventually be completely obligated. The Executive Committee members did not express any concerns with the agency financial reports.

    The Committee reviewed Conflict of Interest disclosures and no concerns were noted.

  10. Project Development Committee Report
    Acting Project Development Committee Chair Tisch reported that the Committee plans further conversations about English Language Learners (ELL) students who also need special education services. The Committee would like a presentation from Texas Education Agency (TEA) Executive Director of Special Populations Justin Porter on this topic. The Committee also plans to explore ways to support local Texas Advocates chapters.

  11. Public Policy Committee Report
    Public Policy Committee Chair Taylor reported that the Committee received a presentation from Ron Lucey and Fran Robertson of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) on priorities for the 2019 legislative session and opportunities for partnership in advocacy. Lucey and Robertson primarily discussed efforts related to accessible parking issues.

    Taylor noted that the Committee began discussions on the 2019 Public Policy Priorities and will continue this in August. The Committee also discussed the possibility of a survey to legislative offices that would address knowledge, interest and awareness on disability issues.

    Taylor also reported that the Committee directed staff to draft letters to the Health and Human Services Commission on delays in services from the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) and on the process of public involvement in rule development and appeal.

  12. TCDD Policy Fellows Introduction
    Executive Director Stalvey introduced TCDD Policy Fellow Christa Walikonis from Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) and asked her to discuss her background and work at DRTx. Walikonis reported her undergraduate studies in Humanities and has a Master’s Degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Her focus is on housing and transportation issues and noted that she has done a great deal of work on issues related to Hurricane Harvey. She noted that sources of income are the largest barrier and that one-third of people in Texas with housing vouchers are non-elderly with disabilities.

  13. State Agency Representatives Quarterly Activities Report
    A&M CDD representative Megan Orsag expressed her pride in the work of the Center at Texas A&M especially regarding projects such as Bridge to Career and PATHS. She reported that these programs had over 80 applications for the next year and that 27 students had been selected. The career options for these programs are being considered for expansion. Orsag noted that the Leadership Employability Advocacy Project (LEAP) has been asked to be replicated at other universities and that a curriculum focusing on transition is in development.

    Penny Larkin was in attendance for the HHSC/Title XIX/Medicaid Services program. She discussed Mental Health Awareness Month as well as the Legislative Appropriations Request process. She also noted that HHSC Commissioner Charles Smith announced his retirement and that Tommy Williams has been named as the interim commissioner.

    HHSC/Older Americans Act representative Lisa Akers-Owen discussed Older Americans Month. She also discussed the eligibility for community services through the Area Agencies on Aging and the potential for updating and streamlining the process to determine eligibility.

    Department of State Health Services (DSHS)/Title V/Maternal Child Health representative Katlyn Le reported on the availability of the 2018 Outreach Survey which is online and was mailed to clients. It is an anonymous survey that helps to identify the focus of the Children with Special Health Care Needs Services Program. She also noted that Texas was selected as one of 10 states to participate Collaborative Improvement and Innovations Network (CoIINs) project for children with medical complexity.

    TEA alternate representative Keith Swink discussed the Corrective Action Plan in response to the Office of Special Education (OSEP) monitoring board. Stakeholder meetings were held and surveys were conducted during the drafting of the plan to gain input from the public and the final plan was submitted on April 23, 2018. Competitive grants will be solicited to execute the activities outlined in the plan.

    Texas Workforce Commission/Rehabilitation Act representative Jennifer Kaut provided a presentation on vocational rehabilitation services during Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting and stated she had nothing further to add.

  14. Announcements and Updates
    Council members discussed dates and locations of future meetings of August 1-3, 2018, November 7-9, 2018, February 6-8, 2019, and May 1-3, 2019.


Chair Durheim adjourned the meeting at 12:19 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council