The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) held its quarterly Council and Committee Meetings from November 7 to November 9 in Austin. During the meetings, the Council funded new innovative projects, learned about current disability-related issues, and developed strategies for advancing its policy priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
The Council approves and monitors the implementation of TCDD’s Five-Year State Plan, which guides TCDD’s projects and policy work. This quarter, the Council discussed disability-related topics for future State Plan activities, including prevention and response to sexual assault, addressing substance use disorder, and engaging new generations such as millennials in advocacy activities.
The Council also addressed policy priorities and continued to develop strategies for advancing systems change during the 86th legislative session. Council members and other advocates shared stories related to the priorities, some of which include community attendant wages, Employment First, and Home and Community-based Services. Scott Daigle, TCDD Public Policy Director, provided a recap of the general election results and how the results could impact these disability policy issues during the 86th Texas Legislature.
Grants and Stipends
TCDD invests in projects that work to change the system of services and supports, build community capacity to support people with disabilities, and empower advocates to have their voices heard by decision-makers. This quarter, the Council awarded grant funding for seven new projects.
- Peer Support Specialists: Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts both received grants to develop and pilot peer supports training programs. Through the programs, people with developmental disabilities (DD) will be trained to be peer support specialists and help other people with DD who receive home and community-based services (HCBS) to exercise more control over their own lives.
- Health and Wellness: Baylor College of Medicine, Special Olympics Texas, and Texas Tech University were awarded grants to help people with DD improve and maintain their health and wellness. These projects will have a positive, long-term impact and may demonstrate best practices, address gaps in service, and/or build community capacity to support healthy behavior.
- Older Adults with DD and their Caregivers: The Alamo Area Council of Governments and the Border Region Behavioral Health Center both received grants to develop new initiatives to support people with DD who are aging and their caregivers. These initiatives will work to ensure the service system is better-equipped to serve the unique needs of this population by providing information, resources, and support.
The Council also awarded continuation funding for two projects that are already in progress. The Reaching Families Advocacy and Support Group will continue its Culturally Appropriate Family Supports project in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Community Healthcore will continue its Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project in East Texas.
TCDD provides stipends to increase access to disability-related information and advocacy skills. Event Stipends support people with DD and family members to attend informational conferences or advocacy skills training events. Disability-Related Speaker 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. In the past quarter, TCDD awarded stipends to the following organizations (related events in parentheses):
- Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival)
- Family to Family Network (Annual Conference & Resource Fair)
- Volar Center for Independent Living (Our Lives Disabilities Conference and Service Providers Expo)
To learn more about stipends for events, speakers, and translation and interpretation services, visit our Funding Available page.
The Council’s purpose is to connect with community partners and serve as a resource on DD issues to others – people with disabilities, advocates, legislators, and other decision-makers. To accomplish these goals, the Council works to stay up-to-date and informed on trends in Texas that could affect people with DD. During the November meeting, the Council received the following presentations:
- Trauma-Informed Care: Colleen Horton, Director of Policy for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, provided a presentation on how to support people with DD when they experience trauma. Horton’s presentation covered the current system limitations on mental health services for people with DD, the impact trauma can have, and the paradigm shift that needs to occur to improve the services and supports available for mental health recovery.
CBD & Seizures: Dr. Joshua Rotenberg, MD, presented on the use cannabidiol (also known as CBD) to treat refractory epilepsy. Dr. Rotenberg shared data that showed using cannabidiol can reduce the number of seizures a person experiences, and with fewer side effects than other anti-seizure medications. Dr. Rotenberg is a pediatric neurologist in the Houston area.
Next Council Meeting
TCDD’s next quarterly Council and Committee Meetings will be held February 6 to February 8, 2019, in Austin. To receive updates about future Council Meetings, visit the Get Involved with TCDD webpage for ways to follow us.