Input provided on the DARS Proposed Exceptional Items Request for the 2014-2015 Legislative Appropriations Request
June 1, 2012
To: Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
Division for Early Childhood Intervention Services
4900 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78751-2399
From: Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
Cassie Fisher, Public Policy Specialist
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by federal law in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and consists of a 27 member board, appointed by the Governor, 60 percent of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. TCDD’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.
TCDD supports the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) proposed exceptional items request for the 2014-2015 Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) including early intervention services for children, employment services for individuals with disabilities via the vocational rehabilitation program and independent living services so individuals can achieve full integration.
TCDD supports funding the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program’s forecasted caseload growth and funds needed to increase the number of service hours for children receiving ECI services. The ECI caseload has historically grown by about 7 percent annually. The majority of families served through the ECI system (87 percent) reported that ECI was very helpful in showing them how to help their child develop and learn.1 Through the ECI program not only are children benefiting from services, the entire family is learning how to continue services after the caseworker has left. TCDD supports preserving the evidenced based family-focused ECI model which currently provides the most effective and efficient services for children and families.
The DARS Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program helps people with disabilities prepare for, find or keep employment. The VR program provides services that help Texans with disabilities to be productive and independent. The unemployment rate of individuals with disabilities seeking work remains well above those without disabilities, and the gap has widened further in recent years.2 Individuals with disabilities rely on the VR program for such services as job counseling or training to help them stay in their current job or find a new one. For every dollar spent on vocational rehabilitation, VR recipients generate more than $9 in personal taxable income through the remainder of their work lives. By retirement, the average VR recipient will repay the cost of services at least four times through taxes paid.3 TCDD supports the state’s investment in the VR program not only because of the services provided to people with disabilities, but also because of the economic return to the economy.
TCDD supports funding the expansion of three new Centers for Independent Living (CIL). Funding the additional centers will provide more individuals with disabilities access to services and supports needed to live in the community. CIL’s can also support an individual’s desire to move from nursing homes or institutions to less costly community-based settings.
TCDD appreciates the commitment to meeting the needs of Texans with disabilities demonstrated by DARS on its 2014-2015 exceptional items for the Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) submission. Those items reflect the needs of Texans with and without disabilities.