The Arc of Texas — Policy Fellow

Policy Fellow

Statewide Need
Public agencies and advocacy organizations face a graying of the workforce and an ensuing loss of institutional knowledge. Advocates and policy professionals who learned from those who shaped the disability advocacy movement are preparing to retire. Opportunities to be mentored by long-time experts may diminish. At the same time, tight budgets and the current fiscal climate have increased the difficulty for organizations to hire individuals who would benefit from experienced mentors. Providing support to pair mentors with less experienced policy professionals through a Fellowship program can maximize the skill sets of all involved, while also supporting organizations to continue creating positive change through their advocacy work.

Project Goal
The fellow will research, develop, implement, and evaluate a public policy campaign. The campaign will include public education/awareness materials and a Texas Public Policy Campaign Toolkit to achieve policy goals that promote self-determination and self-advocacy in Texas.

Project Summary
The Policy Fellow attended disability workgroup meetings and learned about policy issues affecting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). She attended legislative committee hearings, visited with dozens of legislators, and observed floor proceedings in the House and Senate, allowing her to gain knowledge and advocate for the rights of Texans with IDD.

Much of the Fellow’s public policy campaign focus was on education and outreach. After conducting stakeholder focus groups, she chose four policy priorities for focus: community-based services funding, guardianship reform and Supported Decision Making (SDM), State Supported Living Center (SSLC) system redesign, and the ABLE Act.

The Fellow supported self-advocates, family members, and professionals to make visits with legislators and testify to legislative committees. She provided trainings on the 84th legislative session and policy goals and hosted a Midwest Academy consultation on SSLC reform. She delivered trainings on guardianship reform and SDM to 256 individuals and provided this information to Arc of Texas stakeholders. The Fellow represented The Arc at meetings related to her priorities and attended additional trainings, conferences, and seminars.

The Fellow created educational materials which were distributed to legislators and posted on The Arc’s website. Special education programs and providers frequently requested her materials on guardianship reform and SDM. She also wrote a white paper on SDM and guardianship and researched, developed, and completed an Alternatives to Guardianship and SDM Toolkit.

  • Impact
    • Supported almost 300 self-advocates, families, and professionals to testify on legislative issues, participate in advisory committees, tell their stories to legislators, and advocate for themselves and loved ones
      • Supported 279 self-advocates, family members and professionals to make 43 visits with legislators
      • Supported a self-advocate to testify twice on SDM to legislative committees
      • Visited national legislators to discuss federal issues affecting individuals with IDD
    • Trained 424 individuals on issues affecting Texans with IDD
      • Provided four trainings to 168 individuals on the 84th legislative session and policy goals
      • Hosted a Midwest Academy consultation on SSLC reform
      • Provided 12 trainings on guardianship reform and SDM to 256 individuals
      • Hosted a person-centered thinking training for the entire Arc of Texas staff
    • The Fellow’s education materials were widely distributed and continue to be requested by providers, family members, special education programs, and others

Meet the Policy Fellow

photograph of Megan MorganMegan Morgan, LMSW, received her Master of Science in Social Work degree from the University of Texas at Austin. White at UT-Austin, she also completed a degree in Spanish. Megan has volunteered in the fields of HIV/AIDS prevention, LGBTQ advocacy, grief counseling, and domestic violence and sexual assault. Additionally, she was a Research Assistant for the UT School of Social Work for two years. Megan is thrilled to be able to use her passion for social justice and systems-level change as the Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellow with The Arc of Texas, and is grateful to the TCDD for this incredible opportunity.

Project Period
Mar 2012 – Feb 2017

8001 Centre Park Dr. #100
Austin, TX 78754

Geographic Reach
Travis, Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, El Paso and Bexar counties

Texas map with Travis county marked