The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) held its quarterly Council and Committee Meetings from Aug. 7-9 in Austin. During the meetings, the Council welcomed new members, awarded funding for innovative projects, and developed plans to address various disability-related issues.
In June, Governor Greg Abbott appointed nine new members to serve on the Council. Before participating in TCDD’s August Council Meeting, new members participated in a New Member Orientation that was conducted by Council and staff members. Throughout the Council Meeting, the new members shared their experiences and insights during discussions about TCDD projects and policy efforts. In June, Gov. Abbott also reappointed 10 Council members. Learn more about the new and reappointed Council members here.
During the August meeting, the Council also addressed TCDD’s Five-Year State Plan. The Council approves and monitors the implementation of the State Plan, which guides TCDD’s projects and policy work. This quarter, Council members discussed future activities related to the implementation of the State Plan, including projects that (A) address complex mental health needs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and (B) support leadership and advocacy training by local self-advocacy groups.
Grants and Stipends
TCDD invests in projects that work to change the system of services and supports, build community capacity to support people with IDD, and empower advocates to have their voices heard by decision-makers.
This quarter, the Council awarded continuation funding for six projects already in progress. The grantees and their associated projects are listed below:
- Easterseals Central Texas — Leadership Development and Advocacy Training
- Family to Family Network — Leadership Development and Advocacy Training
- Mounting Horizons, Inc. — Youth Leadership Development
- Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center — Leadership Development and Advocacy Training
- SAFE — Youth Leadership Development
- Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas at Austin — Texas Sibling Network
TCDD provides stipends to increase access to disability-related information and advocacy skills. Events Stipends support people with IDD and family members to attend informational conferences or advocacy skills training events. Disability-Related Speakers Stipends support presentations on disability-related issues at conferences and workshops in Texas. Translation and Interpretation Services Stipends reduce linguistic barriers to access services and supports in Texas.
This quarter, the Council awarded six stipends to five organizations. Those organizations and their associated events are listed below:
- American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Texas Chapter (AAIDD Texas) — AAIDD Texas Annual Convention (two stipends)
- Sistema Infantil TeleonUSA — Go Baby Go Conference
- Texas Advocates — 2019 Texas Advocates Conference
- The Arc Greater Mid Cities — Person Centered Thinking
- The Texas Tribune — 2019 Texas Tribune Festival
To learn more about stipends for events, speakers, and translation and interpretation services, visit our Funding Available page.
Council members heard several presentations this quarter that provided information on issues involving people with IDD in Texas as well as disability-related legislation passed by the 86th Texas Legislature.
Public Housing Assistance: Christa Walikonis, a TCDD Policy Fellow with Disability Rights Texas, presented on how some people may experience income discrimination in the housing system. Walikonis highlighted some of the barriers people with IDD might face when trying to secure housing in Austin using Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. Some of the barriers included high rental rates, few landlords accepting Section 8 tenants, and the lack of units that are affordable and accessible to voucher holders. Check out Walikonis’ presentation here.
Statewide IDD Strategic Plan: Erica Haller-Stevenson, MPH, from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) discussed development of the Statewide IDD Strategic Plan. The plan aims to unify state agencies and stakeholders to set goals and address gaps in Texas’ IDD service system. Haller-Stevenson provided updates on HHSC’s future public outreach efforts, which will include an online survey and regional listening sessions. For Haller-Stevenson’s presentation, go here.
86th Legislature: TCDD Public Policy Director Scott Daigle provided highlights from the 86th Texas Legislature, as well as specific legislative activities related to TCDD’s 2019 Public Policy Priorities. Daigle shared details on several disability-related bills that lawmakers passed during the session, including new laws on employment, accessible parking, Medicaid managed care, sexual assault response, and the restraint or seclusion of students attending public schools. Daigle also highlighted that the State’s new $250.7 billion biennial budget includes $139 million to provide raises to attendants’ base wages. Daigle’s presentation can be found here.
Youth Leadership Development: TCDD grantees Educational Programs Inspiring Communities (EPIC), Mounting Horizons, Inc., and SAFE provided an update about their TCDD-funded Youth Leadership Development projects. Each project is developing a unique Youth Leadership Development program that will support youth with IDD to learn and share information, acquire leadership skills, and develop long-range advocacy plans.
Each project is helping youth with IDD become leaders in unique and innovative ways. EPIC is partnering with the Houston Food Bank, Houston ISD, and The Arc of Greater Houston to leverage resources and connections to provide youth with on-the-job training. Mounting Horizons’ Young Adult Advocates Leadership (Y.A.A.L.) Club is supporting youth in Galveston County to be stronger advocates for themselves and for others. SAFE’s project is focused on supporting youth to develop advocacy skills and have safe and healthy relationships. You can learn more about each of these projects on our Current Grant Projects webpage. The presentations from Mounting Horizons and SAFE are also available.
Next Council Meeting
TCDD’s next quarterly Council and Committee Meetings will be held Nov. 6-8, 2019, in Austin. To receive updates about future Council Meetings, visit the Get Involved with TCDD webpage for ways to follow us.