Minutes — August 2016 Committee of the Whole Meeting

2016 Council and Committee Meetings


Council Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Mary Faithfull, DRT
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS
  • Jennifer Kaut, DARS
  • Ruth Mason
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Michael Peace
  • Ron Roberts, TEA
  • Amy Sharp, UT CDS
  • Meagan Sumbera, A&M CDD
  • David Taylor
  • Lora Taylor
  • Richard Tisch
  • John Thomas
  • April Young, HHSC
  • Donnie Wilson, DADS

Council Members Absent

  • Kristine Clark
  • Dana Perry
  • Brandon Pharris

Guests Present

  • Justin Babineaux, DADS
  • Mary Cooper
  • Kyle Cox
  • Isabel Evans
  • Rachel Jew, DSHS
  • Jean Langendorf
  • Stephanie Sokolowsky
  • Larry Temple

Staff Members Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Danny Fikac
  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Fernando Rodriguez
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Committee of the Whole of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Thursday, August 4, 2016, in the Salon A-C of the Horseshoe Bay Resort, 200 Hi Circle North, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 9:32 AM.

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

  2. Public Comments
    No public comments were offered to the Committee.

  3. Chair and Executive Director Remarks
    TCDD Executive Director Beth Stalvey and Council Chair Durheim did not offer any formal remarks.

  4. Employment in Texas
    Executive Director Stalvey explained that the focus of the meetings would be on Employment and the Committee would have several interactive presentations on this topic. She introduced Larry Temple, Executive Director of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), who began his discussion with the topic of transformation of services from the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to TWC. The primary goal for the transformation is for there to be no interruption of services on the consumer level. Consumers will keep the same vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors in the same office spaces. He explained that the first change in the next year will be to incorporate services for consumers who are blind into general VR services. He also noted that VR services have been divided into six regions across the state, blind services have been in two regions, and workforce services have had seven regions so a new configuration of six regions is being developed that should work for all services.

    Temple noted that there are 193 TWC “One-Stop” centers across the state that have resource rooms and that $600,000 has recently been spent to update the centers with assistive technology such as JAWS readers. He noted that there is a great deal of resources for individuals (with and without disabilities) who are looking for employment and he encouraged members to become acquainted with the “One-Stop” centers and to explore the resources available through the TWC website.

    Temple next spoke about the new federal training Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), noting that services in Texas have used a consolidated service delivery model since 1995, so he does not expect the transition to be difficult. With VR services moving to TWC, all WIOA services will be administered by the same agency which will streamline referrals because the same reporting system is used for all services, It will also allow easier access for individuals with disabilities to receive things like childcare as well as other employment services.

    Temple further explained that TWC placed 1.5 million people with jobs during the last fiscal year and DARS placed 100,000. He recognizes that services for people with disabilities are very individualized but he hopes there will be expertise brought from both programs to create a successful merger and serve all Texans.

    TCDD Public Policy Specialist Linda Logan introduced Jean Langendorf of Disability Rights Texas who also serves as the Chair of the Purchasing from People with Disabilities Advisory Committee. Langendorf presented the recent Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) report on sub-minimum wage employment entitled Living on a Dime and Left Behind – How a Depression-Era Labor Law Cheats Texas Workers with Disabilities and members received a full copy of the report in their meeting materials. She noted the investigation was done as part of a national effort to examine the treatment of people with disabilities in sheltered workshops. 109 Texas employers have 14(c) certificates which allow employees to be paid less than minimum wage. DRTx found that some workers are paid less than $0.50 an hour and 18 organizations also serve as the Representative Payee for the employee. She also noted that Texas law supports the 14(c) organizations by requiring Texas state agencies to purchase the goods and services produced by these organizations. Three critical and overarching findings were presented in the report: 1) Texas has systematic problems regarding fair wages, employment growth and vocational opportunities for people with disabilities. 2) Texans in sheltered workshops are not being paid fairly. 3) By relying on the sheltered workshop system, Texas is putting people with disabilities at risk of unnecessary risk of segregation, isolation and exploitation. DRTx recommends phasing out this system and moving toward fully competitive and integrated employment, overhauling day-habilitation services, providing more job training and development in Texas programs, and removing barriers to hiring people with disabilities in state agencies.

    Public Policy Specialist Logan next presented on other federal and statewide advocacy efforts regarding employment issues. She discussed the need for culture change and identified six core strategies including leadership, workforce development, development of tools and resources, use of data and performance outcome measures, involvement of individuals and families in all efforts, and exploring individual basis for services. Logan reviewed services for individuals with disabilities receiving Medicaid waiver services and noted that 63.9% have been approved for day habilitation services (with 57.4% receiving those services) while only 0.94% were approved for employment assistance (with 0.43% receiving) and 1.83% were approved for supported employment (with 1.24% receiving).

    Logan further discussed implementation of WIOA, noting that the Act promotes Competitive Integrated Employment for all workers. She also noted that the federal Department of Labor recently began a concentrated effort to raise awareness on the limitations of payment of sub-minimum wages and produced a card on the rights of workers with disabilities. As part of WIOA, all sub-minimum wage workers must receive career counseling from TWC and receive information about training every six months. She further discussed WIOA guidelines for youth and young adults to include expanded eligibility for pre-employment services, additional VR funding allocated to transition services, and prohibition of school contracts that place student with disabilities in sheltered workshops. She reminded members that a number of TCDD projects meet WIOA guidelines for pre-employment services and those projects include the three higher education for employment projects as well as the enabling technology projects.

    Logan next introduced Stephanie Sokolosky, Chair of the Employment First Taskforce (EFTF) and Interim Chair of the Autism Council. Sokolosky reviewed draft recommendations from EFTF which include bringing employment and transition services into compliance with WIOA and Employment First policies and moving away from segregated and/or sub-minimum wage earning settings to competitive integrated employment.

    Chair Durheim next presented on her work with the National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities where she served on the sub-committee on Career Readiness and Employability. The sub-committee offered 11 policy recommendations to the Task Force to improve each state’s policies on employment for people with disabilities. The recommendations include:

    • States should have an internal and external focus on disability etiquette and awareness to include all types of disabilities including visible and hidden disabilities.
    • State should be a model employer.
    • State should engage private and non-profit sector employers around workforce development for people with disabilities.
    • Entrepreneurship and self-employment training are key strategies in laying the groundwork for successful workforce development for people with disabilities.
    • Helping individuals with disabilities prepare to enter the workforce.
    • Family involvement is key for youth and young adults. Finding work and managing logistics of transportation are critical to success.
    • The built workplace environment — accessible housing, public transportation, etc. — is key for individuals with disabilities.
    • Develop policies to retain employees whose status can change over time with new or different challenges.
    • State procurement policy and Disability Owned Business Certification are necessary workforce development strategies.
    • Technology supports should be made available to all employees.

  5. Council Challenge
    The Committee received additional updates from staff regarding TCDD staff activities such as federal reporting and conference attendance. Committee members also discussed recent Texas specific news items that involve people with disabilities such as cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates for therapies and findings of lead in drinking water at state supported living centers. General statistics such as life expectancy and poverty rates for people with disabilities were also discussed.


Council Chair Durheim adjourned the Committee of the Whole at 1:55 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council