Minutes — November 2015 Committee of the Whole Meeting

2015 Council and Committee Meetings


Council Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Kristine Clark
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Elaine Eisenbaum, UT CDS
  • Mary Faithfull, DRT
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS
  • Jennifer Kaut, DARS
  • Ruth Mason
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Michael Peace
  • Brandon Pharris
  • David Taylor
  • Lora Taylor
  • John Thomas
  • Richard Tisch
  • April Young, HHSC
  • Donnie Wilson, DAD

Council Members Absent

  • Mateo Delgado
  • Andrew Crim
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Barbara Kaatz, TEA
  • Dana Perry
  • Dan Zhang, A&M CDD

Guests Present

  • Isabel Evans
  • Chris Masey
  • Megan Morgan
  • Darryl Powell

Staff Members Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Belinda Carlton
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Danny Fikac
  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Fernando Rodriguez
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Committee of the Whole of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Thursday, November 5, 2015, in the Ballroom F-H of the Horseshoe Bay Resort, 200 Hi Circle North, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 9:33 AM.

  1. Introductions
    Council members, staff and guests introduced themselves.

    Council Chair Durheim reviewed member absences to include Andy Crim, Mateo Delgado, Stephen Gersuk, Dana Perry and representatives from Texas Education Agency and the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University.

  2. Public Comments
    Council Vice-Chair Kristen Cox discussed circumstances at Texas A&M University where her son attends that have relocated the Offices for Students with Disabilities to a part of the campus that is difficult for students to reach in a timely manner. She asked everyone to consider signing a petition through change.org which asks the university to move the office back to the main campus.

  3. Chair and Executive Director Remarks
    Chair Durheim invited the representatives from the state agencies to provide updates on agency activities.

    April Young discussed Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) activities in response to Senate Bill 7 from the 84rd Legislature. HHSC is working to implement STAR Kids, the Medicaid managed care program for children receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Medicaid or who are enrolled in the Medically Dependent Children Program (MDCP), by field testing the assessment portion of the program. Contracts to provide these services have been awarded to ten managed care organizations throughout the state and preliminary outreach activities are expected to begin in early 2016. HHSC is also working on the IDD Pilot which is a Medicaid managed care model for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities that will increase access to long-term services and supports and improve quality of care. In response to Senate Bill 1226, HHSC is working to implement Employment First policies throughout all the health and human services agencies and incorporate this philosophy into all programs. HHSC began the Community First Choice (CFC) program on June 1, 2015 which provides home and community-based attendant services for individuals who need an institutional level of care. Person-Centered Planning training is being conducted for providers of CFC services. Young also reported on the HHSC website that allows members of the public to sign up for email alerts related to Sunset transition activities. A new advisory committee structure for the consolidated HHSC has been proposed and is posted in the Texas Register for public comment.

    Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) representative Donnie Wilson provided copies of proposed surveys to evaluate 1115 Waiver services. The surveys include self-assessments for residential providers and non-residential providers as well as compliance programs assessments, resident surveys and day program participant surveys. Another survey on employment assistance and supported employment is proposed for participants in waiver programs. The surveys are posted to receive public comment on the draft and will be administered to their respective audiences after they are finalized. DADS work on employment initiatives include a Money Follows the Person (MFP) Employment pilot that involves three providers that created best practices to move individuals out of day programs into supported employment of their choosing as well as training programs on Employment First principles.

    Ivy Goldstein provided an overview of the services provided by the Children with Special Health Care Needs division in which she works. She noted that program is undergoing a transformation mandated by federal partners and will have two primary objectives: transition for youth with special health care needs to adult medicine and medical homes of coordinated family-based care. Goldstein described the contracts throughout the state that are administered by her division to provide these services as well as the coordination of the Medical Home Workgroup and resources that are provided to the public by her agency.

    Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) representative Jennifer Kaut provided an update on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that requires DARS funding for pre-employment services such as internships, applied behavior analysis, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) supports in the home. She stressed this is new for the agency in that all prior services from vocational rehabilitation program had to lead to permanent employment goals. She discussed a pilot project with Leander Independent School District that provides these transition services so that students are employed prior to graduation. Kaut further discussed services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders as well as an environmental work assessment that can evaluate the variables to determine the most productive work environment.

    Council member Lora Taylor discussed the implementation of the laws (84th Texas Legislature) allowing for cannibidiol (CBD oil) to treat seizures. She noted that because CBD oil is considered a schedule 1 drug, only four doctors in Texas will be allowed to prescribe it and school nurses will not be allowed to administer it if prescribed. The four doctors are pediatric epileptologists and therefore any adult such as Taylor’s daughter will not be able to be put on the registry for treatment. Taylor plans to continue her advocacy work in this area on the federal level and will ask for CBD oil to be moved to a schedule 2 drug so that it can be more widely prescribed and research will not be as restricted. Taylor also discussed epilepsy awareness events for the month of November.

    Council Chair Durheim briefly reviewed the process to establish the TCDD Nominating Committee which will take place during the meetings. The Committee will consist of three members with one selected from the Project Development Committee, one selected from the Public Policy Committee and one selected from the Council. The Committee will select its Chair and conduct business by teleconference during the interim when it will select a nominee for Council Vice-Chair and a nominee for the self-advocate member to the Executive Committee, then present those selections to the Council at the February meeting. Council members were reminded that those who serve on the Nominating Committee cannot have their name submitted by the Committee for either position and that agency representatives are not eligible to serve as the Council Vice-Chair but are eligible to serve on the Committee.

    Executive Director Beth Stalvey reported on the recent National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) Executive Directors meeting in Atlanta. Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) Commissioner Aaron Bishop presented on changes to the federal structure that increase opportunities for collaboration. Staff from the Centers for Disease Control presented on disability data and resources. The directors also attended a tour of the Civil and Human Rights Museum which includes exhibits related to the disability rights movement and provided a background for discussion on Councils’ role in addressing cultural competency and diversity.

  4. DD Policy Fellows Update
    TCDD Public Policy Director Jessica Ramos introduced DD Policy Fellows Megan Morgan of the Arc of Texas and Chris Masey of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD). Ramos invited the fellows to review their advocacy activities during the 84rd Texas Legislature and discuss plans for the remaining year (Year 2 of 2) of their fellowship.

    Morgan described her growth as an advocate during the past year noting she had very little experience with public policy work or with disability issues prior to beginning her fellowship. She began her fellowship by attending meetings and conferences and developing relationships with advocates and other mentors enabling her to gain knowledge of various disability issues. She also conducted focus groups throughout the state to determine issue areas that needed attention. During the legislative session she attended hearings, worked on “one-pagers” to provide information to legislators on issues such as state supported living centers and supported decision making, and assisted self-advocates as they made visits to legislative offices. She described her highlight of the session in assisting a self-advocate to prepare and provide testimony on guardianship alternatives and supported decision making. She noted that attending the Guardianship Reform and Supported Decision Making workgroup and working on this topic has become a passion for her and will be her focus for rest of the fellowship. She will monitor the implementation of the laws passed on this topic as well as provide education on those laws. She will continue to develop and distribute educational material on guardianship reform. She hopes to put together an advocacy tool-kit for self-advocates and families to use in future legislative sessions.

    Masey described the beginning of his fellowship as getting up to speed on various disability issues to prepare for the legislative session. He noted that the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD) conducted surveys prior to the session and although the number of responses was not as great as was hoped, the comments that were provided allowed for valuable input and helped in the development of a report on disability issues. He assisted in the training and support of self-advocates during the session. Masey further discussed the issues on which he gained knowledge such as supported decision making, the Texas ABLE Act, and dual diagnoses of mental health and developmental disabilities. His second year will be focused on implementation of legislative reform in areas such as palliative care and involvement in the advisory committees to oversee HHSC consolidation. He has been very involved in education and advocacy for the Texas ABLE Act and will serve on the advisory committee as the law is implemented.

    Morgan and Masey both expressed their appreciation to the Council for this project and the work that it has enabled them to do.

  5. Grant Project Highlights
    TCDD Senior Grants Management Specialist Cynthia Ellison provided highlights of the Meaningful Relationships project from SafePlace. She noted that this project has worked with seven service providers to provide opportunities and supports for 82 people with developmental disabilities to participate in healthy relationships education. SafePlace has worked with three partner agencies to develop or revise policies to better support people with developmental disabilities to form relationships by engaging in community life and activities. A 16-lesson curriculum for future trainings is being developed and fundraising to allow project sustainability is being conducted.

  6. Public Information Report
    TCDD Communications Coordinator Joshua Ryf provided an update on public information activities during the past quarter. He noted there has been a significant spike in the number of fans of the TCDD Facebook page with a growth of more than 600 between July and October. This is in part due to efforts in guiding users away from the old TCDD “friend” page to the current “fan” page designed for businesses. The page has also seen increased traffic resulting from posts on hot topic issues such as proposed cuts to Medicaid therapy reimbursement rates. He noted that some posts have reached over 6,000 people due to fans sharing the posts.

    Ryf also discussed the development of icons to illustrate specific topics on the TCDD website that are then used with other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and email to identify that issue. The icons are specific to any news related to this topic including blog posts or announcements about a Request for Proposals (RFP). These have been used for topics such as Guardianship Reform and Accessible Public Transportation.

  7. Chair and Executive Director Remarks (continued)
    Chair Durheim noted that the Executive Committee requested that Council members receive financial reports prior to discussion on future projects so that they may be fully aware of Council finances as decisions are made.

    TCDD Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed the Quarterly Financial Reports noting that $510,000 of FY 2015 funds are available to be re-obligated for projects. Although the notice of grant award has not been received for FY 2016, it is estimated to be $4.7 million. With $1.8 million allocated for operating expenses, approximately $2.8 million is available for grant projects. With the current planned projects, there is an expected balance of approximately $750,000 including the roll-over from FY 2015.

  8. Fiscal Year 2017–2021 State Plan Goal and Objectives
    Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry led a discussion on the development of the FY 2017-2021 State Plan Goals and Objectives. She reminded members that the State Plan is what creates the change for people with developmental disabilities in Texas. Cordry noted that the suggested goals and objectives will be discussed and that substantive changes can be made based on Council member input but any “wordsmithing” should be handled after the meeting with input provided by email. If the Council agrees to the draft Goals and Objectives, this can be posted to the Texas Register for public comment.

    Cordry reviewed the guiding principles of the plan noting that it builds on the previous State Plan; it is aligned with the TCDD mission, DD Act and AIDD requirements; it includes public input as well as input from Council members at the August 2015 meeting; and is consistent with person-centered practices. The four goals of the FY 2017-2021 State Plan are:

    • Create and Support Promising Practices
    • Improve and Expand Existing Community Based Systems
    • Self-Advocates and Advocates Influence Policy and Practice
    • Identify and Engage in Emerging Issues and Opportunities

    Cordry discussed each goal in detail and provided examples of projects that apply to each goal. She noted that some current TCDD projects will continue into the next state plan time period and can be listed as objectives for that plan. Council members did not offer revisions to the draft but provided comments on elements of the plan for which they were in favor. Council members were encouraged to have further discussion on the State Plan during the Project Development and Public Policy Committee meetings.

    Cordry further explained the timeline and requirements for developing the State Plan. The Council needs to vote on the current draft and if approved, it will be posted in the Texas Register for public comment. Public comments will then be collected and shared with the Council at the next meeting. If no substantive changes are made, the draft can be voted on for submission to AIDD. However if significant changes are made based on public comment, the draft plan will need to be posted in the Texas Register a second time for additional comment.

  9. Consideration of Partners in Policymaking© Project Proposal
    Planning Coordinator Cordry presented an executive summary for a proposal of a Partners in Policymaking© project noting that the summary has been revised following discussion at the August 2015 Project Development Committee and Council meetings. The goal of the project is to facilitate advanced leadership and advocacy training for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and family members using the Partners in Policymaking© curriculum. Cordry noted that the executive summary describes one project for up to 5 years with suggested funding amounts to include the planning and/or training activities and the travel costs for attendees. Cordry noted that the curriculum is trademarked and the founder has offered to help the selected grantee reduce costs but that only limited modifications can be made or it would no longer be Partners in Policymaking©.

    Cordry reviewed the history of the Partners in Policymaking© program and Council Chair Durheim described the original model coordinated by TCDD staff before it was administered as a grant project. Members engaged in the pros/cons of executing the program as a complete grant project or with staff involvement. Executive Director Stalvey noted that staffing models such as an in-house contractor could be explored if the Council directive is to implement the program through TCDD staff instead of a grant contract. Durheim then clarified that how the program is administered is secondary to the decision whether the program should be funded and implemented.

    Cordry discussed the proposed changes from the original model to the outcomes and follow-up of the program which include defined goals and outcomes for policy impact, follow-up measures to track and involve graduates, and improved evaluation measures to quantify graduate advocacy activities and public policy involvement.

    Cordry further discussed TCDD’s efforts to implement advanced leadership and advocacy skills training since the Partners in Policymaking© project ended in 2006. She noted that implementing the Partners in Policymaking© project again would contribute to the Council’s overall efforts in leadership and advocacy trainings throughout the state which also include state-wide youth leadership, self-advocate organizations, and sibling networks in addition to local trainings.

    MOTION: To recommend Council approval of the Partners in Policymaking program with an increase in funding for the first year to $150,000 and allowing staff judgment to increase funding for subsequent years as needed with approval by the Council Chair.
    MADE BY: Mary Durheim
    SECOND: Rick Tisch
    Durheim further clarified that the motion does not specify if the program will be coordinated by TCDD staff or through a grant project but is a simple approval of the project. The motion passed without opposition. Donnie Wilson and April Young abstained from voting.


Council Chair Durheim adjourned the Committee of the Whole adjourned at 2:03 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council