February 2020 Council Meeting Wrap-Up

February 2020 Council Wrap up Hero

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) held its quarterly Council and Committee meetings from Feb. 5-7 in Austin. During the meetings, the Council funded new innovative projects, elected members to serve in leadership roles, and discussed future activities and policy work.

Council Business

The Council approves and monitors TCDD’s Five-Year State Plan, which guides projects and policy work. This quarter, the Council considered future State Plan activities, including projects to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) by:

  • providing education on financial basics,
  • increasing awareness of the importance of family support and financial planning, and
  • addressing barriers to full community inclusion.

Members discussed the Council’s position statements and public policy priorities for the 87th Texas Legislature that convenes in 2021.

The Council also elected two members to serve in leadership roles for 2020. Andrew “Andy” Crim will serve as the Council’s Vice-Chair, and Kimberly Blackmon will serve as the Self-Advocate Member-at-Large to the Executive Committee.

Grants and Stipends

TCDD invests in projects to change the services and supports system and build community capacity to help people with disabilities. This quarter, the Council awarded grant funding for seven new projects.

Complex Mental Health Needs: The Council awarded funding to three projects to create promising practices to help people dually diagnosed with IDD and mental health conditions be fully included in their communities and have control over their lives. Funding was awarded to:

  • The Arc of Texas,
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School, and
  • Texas Tech University.

Meaningful Day Mini-Grants: The Council awarded funding to Opportunities, Inc., to develop a Supported Employment project that will help people with IDD find meaningful employment and participate in the community activities of their choice.

Substance Use Disorder: The Council awarded funding to the University of North Texas Health Science Center to study and expand knowledge related to substance use disorder in people with IDD. The project will include a survey of treatment facilities and providers.

TCDD Public Policy Fellows: The Council awarded funding to Family to Family Network and the Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center to hire TCDD Policy Fellows. The Fellows will develop a deep understanding of disability policy and engage in policy activities that lead to systems change.

This quarter, the Council awarded continuation funding for eight projects already in progress. The grantees and their projects are listed below.

  • Alamo Area Council of Governments: Support for Older Adults and their Caregivers
  • Baylor College of Medicine: Transition to Adult Care Mentorship
  • Baylor College of Medicine: Advancing Behavioral Health Integration
  • Imagine Art: Training 4 Transformation
  • Project Amistad: Peer Support Specialist Network
  • Texas Advocates: Peer Support Specialists for Individuals Living in Institutions
  • UMass Medical School: Statewide Community Services Peer Support Specialists
  • West Central Texas Regional Foundation: Leadership Development and Advocacy Training

For more information about TCDD’s projects, check out our Current Grant Projects. To learn about current and upcoming grant opportunities, visit our Funding Available page.

TCDD provides stipends to increase access to disability-related information and advocacy opportunities. Events Stipends support people with IDD and family members to attend conferences or advocacy skills training events. Disability-Related Speakers Stipends support presentations on disability-related issues at conferences and workshops. Translation and Interpretation Services Stipends reduce linguistic barriers to access services and supports.

This quarter, the Council awarded 11 stipends to seven organizations. The organizations and their events are listed below.

  • Attention Deficit Disorders Association: Annual Southern Region Conference
  • Autism Society of El Paso: Autism Conference for Parents (two stipends)
  • Children’s Disabilities Information Coalition: Children’s Disability Symposium (two stipends)
  • Congregation Emanu El: Achieving Diversity, Inclusion, and Access
  • Hope Center for Autism: Understanding Autism
  • Integral Care: Central Texas African American Family Support Conference (two stipends)
  • Volar Center for Independent Living: Our Lives Disabilities Conference (two stipends)

To learn more about stipends for events, speakers, and translation and interpretation services, visit our Funding Available page.


Council members heard several presentations on topics involving people with IDD, including the 2020 U.S. Census, Medicaid waiver interest lists, and state-supported living centers (SSLC).

2020 U.S. Census: Alex Cogan, manager of public policy and advocacy at The Arc of Texas, provided information on outreach efforts to ensure an accurate count of Texans with disabilities in the 2020 U.S. Census.

Community First Choice: Council Member Dana Williamson, an agency representative from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), shared details on Community First Choice, a Texas Medicaid benefit that provides attendant and habilitation services.

Medicaid Waiver Interest List: Williamson also spoke about findings from an HHSC study into how various states are managing and reducing their Medicaid waiver interest lists.

People First and Identity First Language: Chris Botello, Brooke Hohfeld, and Cindy Whitaker, all from Texas Advocates, outlined People First Language and Identity First Language, both of which offer guidelines on respectful ways to refer to people with disabilities.

SSLC Resources: Scott Schalchlin, SSLC associate commissioner at HHSC’s Health and Specialty Care System, answered questions from Council members on how resources are managed at SSLCs in Texas.

Next Council Meeting

TCDD’s next quarterly Council and Committee Meetings will be held May 6-8 in Austin. To receive updates about future Council Meetings, visit the Engage Online webpage for ways to follow us.



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