FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Melissa Loe, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
Grant was Awarded to The Arc of San Angelo
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities awarded a $75,000 grant to The Arc of San Angelo for the first year of a project to demonstrate how volunteers can provide appropriate supports to help individuals with cognitive disabilities make decisions concerning their own lives. This pilot project will start in Tom Green County during the first year, providing an alternative to guardianship for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other cognitive disabilities. It will expand into Concho and Irion counties in the second year and Menard and McCulloch counties in its final year.
“This project will develop a group of trained volunteers who will listen to individuals with cognitive disabilities and help them understand their options,” Senator Robert Duncan said. “The volunteers will be trained on how to provide unbiased support so they can aid people with disabilities in making their own decisions and controlling their own lives.”
As part of their training, the volunteers will participate in problem-solving scenarios that use decision-making strategies they can use with individuals with disabilities. The volunteers will also learn what constitutes “informed consent” and the risks of setting up an unnecessary guardianship. Individuals with disabilities will be matched with a single volunteer who is solely focused on how the individual can be supported with decision-making.
TCDD partnered with the Department of Aging and Disability Services to create this Volunteer Supported Decision-Making Advocate pilot program, under a bill passed by the Texas Legislature in 2009. A workgroup was convened by DADS to develop the general rules and overall structure of the pilot programs. DADS will also oversee evaluation of the pilot program and provide recommendations to the legislature about the benefits and limitations of using supported decision-making advocates as an alternative to guardianship.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities is a 27-member board dedicated to improving the lives of more than 450,000 Texans with developmental disabilities. The council uses a variety of activities — such as grant projects, technical assistance, public awareness and leadership training — to enable people with disabilities to live, grow up, attend school and work in the community. Developmental disabilities are severe, chronic disabilities that occur before the age of 22, such as autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness, traumatic brain injury and epilepsy.