May 2023 Council Meeting Wrap-up

TCDD held quarterly meetings both virtually and in person from May 3-5, 2023. During the meetings, Council members awarded funding to continue the development of several ongoing grant projects; discussed recent news and developments from the 88th Texas Legislature; and engaged with presenters on a variety of important disability topics.

Funding Awards and Stipends

TCDD invests in projects to strengthen service and support systems across Texas and build community capacity to help people with developmental disabilities (DD). This quarter, Council members awarded funding to nine existing TCDD grantees to continue the development of ongoing projects. The following information includes project descriptions and the organizations awarded funding.

Advanced Leadership Training for Professionals: Develop the next generation of leaders in fields that serve or fund services for people with DD.

  • Texas Tech University (Project Leadership Challenge)

DD Policy Fellows: Increase the number of Texas policy professionals with skills, knowledge, and experience to engage in disability policy activities.

  • Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
  • Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South Texas
  • NAMI Texas

New Initiatives: Identify and propose innovative solutions to the local, regional, and statewide needs of people with DD.

  • Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (Trauma-Informed Mental Health Care for Youth with DD in Emergency Rooms): Develop recommendations to improve emergency care for youth with DD having mental health crises.
  • Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center (Help Me Grow El Paso): Create an intake center in El Paso to help young children with DD, families, service providers, and community members find local services and resources.
  • Texas State University (Bobcat RISE - Resilience, Independence, Self-Determination, and Empowerment): Create an affordable and sustainable four-year inclusive postsecondary education project for students with DD
  • Texas Tech University (Project AIMS - Acquiring Independent Money Skills): Strengthen the independence, self-determination, and community participation of people with DD by developing skills and knowledge to manage money.

Sexual Assault Response and Prevention: Research and analyze the state of sexual assault prevention, reporting, and criminal prosecution in cases involving Texans with DD.

  • University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School

TCDD also provides stipends to increase access to disability information and advocacy opportunities. Stipends are available for conferences and eventsdisability-related speakers, and translation and interpretation services. This quarter, TCDD provided stipends to the following organizations:

  • Austin Travis County Integral Care: Central Texas African American Family Support Conference
  • Children’s Disabilities Information Coalition: Children’s Disabilities Symposium
  • Chrysalis Spectrum Foundation: Family Fun Day for Autism Awareness

Discussions and Presentations

During the meetings, the Council discussed ideas for new projects and activities, including ways to foster greater community connections among disability advocates across Texas. Council members also received updates from the 88th Texas Legislature. Throughout the legislative session, TCDD monitors legislative activities that could impact people with disabilities and provides updates through weekly Texas Legislative News and TCDD Bill of the Week features. To learn more, check out 88th Legislative Session.

Council members engaged with presenters who shared information on a variety of disability topics and initiatives:

  • Eva’s Heroes: Christiane Garcia, executive director; Marty Markgraf, HAC director; and Lisa Shelley, special events director, discussed Eva’s Heroes, a San Antonio-based nonprofit that provides inclusive programs for young adults with DD. Garcia founded the organization in 2006 with actress Eva Longoria.
  • Family to Family Network: Mary Jane Williams, executive director of Family to Family Network, discussed the recently completed Planning Ahead for Financial Support and Security project. The TCDD-funded initiative provided education and outreach on future financial and support needs to adults with DD and their families in the Greater Houston area.
  • Individualized Skills and Socializations: Council Member Erica Brown, an agency representative from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Title XIX Medicaid program, shared information about the transition from day habilitation to individualized skills and socializations (ISS); and Dona Kotzur, president and CEO of the Arc of San Antonio, discussed the ways the organization provides ISS services to people with DD in the San Antonio area.
  • Morgan’s Wonderland: Brooke Kearney, chief development officer for Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative, gave Council members an overview of the organization, which runs the Morgan’s Wonderland accessibility-focused theme park in San Antonio as well as other programs and facilities.
  • Navigate Life Texas: Lianna Burton, HHSC policy and program branch manager, specialty health, and Laura Warren from Texas Parent to Parent, shared information about Navigate Life Texas, which provides resources and services to Texas families with children who have disabilities or special health care needs.
  • Ready to Work SA: Amy Contreras, assistant to the director of the city of San Antonio’s Workforce Development Office, shared information about the city’s training, education, and employment program called Ready to Work SA.

Next Meetings

TCDD’s next quarterly meetings will take place Aug. 2-4, 2023. To receive announcements about future meetings, subscribe to our newsletter.



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