Minutes — November 2015 Executive Committee Meeting

2015 Council and Committee Meetings


Committee Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Michael Peace
  • Lora Taylor

Council Members Present

  • John Thomas

Guests Present

  • Kathy Holdway

Staff Members Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Danny Fikac
  • Wendy Jones
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, in the Limestone Room at the Horseshoe Bay Resort, 200 Hi Circle North, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 2:11 PM.

  1. Introductions
    Committee members and staff were introduced.

  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.

    Public comments regarding the Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project from A Circle of Ten were deferred until the consideration of that project.

  3. Consideration Of Minutes
    The minutes were reviewed and no additions or corrections were noted.

    MOTION: To approve the minutes of the August 5, 2015, Executive Committee meeting as presented.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously.

  4. Chair’s Report
    Council Chair Mary Durheim reported the expected absences for the meeting which include Kristine Clark (Friday only), Andy Crim, Mateo Delgado, Stephen Gersuk, Dana Perry and representatives from Texas A&M University, Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC), Texas Education Agency (TEA).

    Durheim also reported that Amy Sharp, formally the alternate representative from Texas A&M Center on Disability and Development, was selected as Executive Director for the Texas Center for Disability Studies at the University of Texas and will now be the representative to the Council for that agency. Sharp also recently replaced Andy Crim on the Audit Committee who resigned due to work conflicts. Megan Sumbera was selected as the alternate representative from Texas A&M and has been through Council orientation.

    Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) representative Penny Larkin has recently moved to the alternate representative position and Donnie Wilson was appointed as the representative from that agency. He has also attended Council orientation.

    TEA representative Cindy Swain has retired and a replacement has not been named although Barbara Kaatz continues to serve as the alternate.

    Durheim discussed her recent meeting with Executive Director Beth Stalvey and Gaby Fuentes of the Governor’s appointments office. Fuentes reported that there are only 10–12 applications to serve on the Council and many do not meet the criteria. Stalvey and Durheim expressed the need for increased cultural diversity on the Council as well as the need for representation from areas other than the IH-35 corridor, Houston and El Paso. It was also noted that any applications that were submitted under Governor Perry were archived when Governor Abbott took office so anyone who submitted prior to January 2015 would need to submit a new application.

  5. Executive Director’s Report
    Executive Director Stalvey reviewed stipend awards that were approved during the past quarter to the following applicants:

    • Coalition of Texans with Disabilities: Speakers stipend for up to $1,330 for the 12th Annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival & Short Film Competition on November 6, 2015, in Austin.
    • Texas Center for Disability Studies: Events stipend for up to $6,000 for The Texas Gathering on November 5–7, 2015, in Arlington.

    Stalvey provided an update on TCDD staff noting that Grants Management Director Sonya Hosey continues to be out of the office due to illness. She is still working part-time from home as her health allows and continues to be under a doctor’s care for further testing and treatment. Grants Management Specialist Susan Mihalik recently resigned and her final day with TCDD was November 3, 2015. All TCDD staff continue to contribute to cover additional tasks during this transition.

    Stalvey recently attended the 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.

    Stalvey discussed dates and locations selected for FY 2016 meetings. She noted that the location of Horseshoe Bay Resort provides the best value from the proposals received and for the dates selected.

  6. Grant Activities Report
    Senior Grants Management Specialist Cynthia Ellison reported that the Culturally Competent Family Supports project from Light and Salt began during the quarter. She further noted that the Committee’s request for clarification on the day programs in this project proposal was addressed with the grantee and the component is not the traditional day habilitation that the Council does not wish to fund. The Outreach and Development project from Nuevos Horizontes requested a reduction of their contributed match but are still above the required 25%. Ellison reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report and noted no deficiencies or exceptions. She discussed the Grants Monitoring Exceptions report for on-site reviews that were completed during the quarter and noted projects from Texas SILC that show as pending are now complete.

    Ellison reviewed the risk assessments for projects that are to be considered for continuation noting that the reasons for the increase in assessed risk for A Circle of Ten will be discussed when the continuation is presented.

    Operations Director Martha Cantu discussed staff follow-up at the Committee’s request regarding the award of $50,000 to the Texas Center for Disability Studies (TCDS) to provide travel support to advisory committee members. She noted that options to continue funding this support would be to continue with TCDS but work to resolve the reporting compliance issues or terminate the funding and post a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find another organization who can distribute the funds. Posting a new RFP would result in a significant delay in providing travel funds for advocates who depend on this to attend their meetings. Cantu and Stalvey also met with Amy Sharp as the new Executive Director of that agency who is now aware of the reporting issues. It was determined that continuing to fund these activities through TCDS is the best course of action and improvement in the reporting process is expected.

  7. Consideration Of Continuation Grant Awards
    A Circle of Ten Executive Director Kathy Holdway provided public comments regarding the Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project. She discussed the history of the project noting that agency has developed a strategic plan and will complete the first year of project implementation in February 2016. Holdway expressed her feelings that the project’s success is based on the trust and support of leaders who are subject experts but that collaboration is rarely easy and that changes to the project work plan were suggested by collaborating organizations. She acknowledged that the project did fail in that A Circle of Ten did not make clear in the work-plan that pilot projects belonged to collaborating partners and that allowances were not made for partners to withdraw or have complications. She felt they did not insist on enough guidance from TCDD and asked that the project be continued.

    Executive Director Stalvey read a letter from Timothy Pylate who formerly served as the Executive Director of the Arc of the Gulf Coast and was a collaborating partner with A Circle of Ten. He reviewed his history with the project but also discussed his belief that funding amounts do not allow the project to be successful in implementing the collaborative pilot projects associated with it. Pylate asked that funding to A Circle of Ten be continued.

    TCDD Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to A Circle of Ten for Building Community Capacity through Collaboration. She first reviewed the intent of the RFP to build community capacity to prevent/reduce admissions to state supported living centers. She then discussed the specific project goals which include the development of a strategic plan based on community needs assessment; identify existing supports, services and programs and develop a resource list; research and partner with stakeholders to determine individuals with developmental disabilities and assess their needs; and implement five pilot projects aimed at addressing those needs. Jones noted that it was the implementation of these pilot projects that has caused conflict and confusion with the project and the grantee. She explained that the work-plan shows TCDD funds would be used to directly implement the projects but the intention according to the grantee is to use TCDD funds to leverage additional funds from other organizations to implement these projects. Chair Durheim noted that the activity of leveraging additional funds was not included in the RFP and was not clearly presented in the grantee’s strategic plan or the current work-plan. Jones further added that the measurable objectives were written to show specific numbers of individuals were trained in specific areas and these objectives have not been met. Jones discussed each pilot project noting that pilot projects were either not implemented due to problems with partners or were being implemented with funding sources that were not TCDD funds. Jones was unsuccessful in her efforts to establish links that showed TCDD funds were supporting specific activities with partners such as the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and Texas Children’s Hospital.

    Jones noted that if funding is continued for the second implementation year, outcomes will need to be further defined to prevent confusion. Committee members questioned if funding the next year would essentially be funding activities that were expected from the previous year. Jones replied that outcomes would need to be defined as showing that TCDD funds were used to leverage additional funding to implement those projects. Durheim noted that this was not the initial intent of the project but that TCDD funds should be used to implement specific activities. Members further questioned what TCDD funds were used for and Jones replied that funding went to personnel, travel, purchased services and equipment.

    It was noted that grants staff have significant concerns regarding this project and do not recommend continuation funding. Committee members acknowledged that if funding were continued it would change the intent of the RFP and this would essentially require a new posting. Durheim clarified that the mission of the Council is not to leverage funds from other organizations.

    MOTION: To not approve continuation funding to the A Circle of Ten for the second implementation of the Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Gladys Cortez
    Holdway asked the Committee to not make a decision today because A Circle of Ten is continuing to work on the activities and building partnerships. She expressed that capacity building grants are different than typical projects and asked for additional consideration. The motion passed without opposition. Michael Peace abstained from voting.

    Grants Management Specialist Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Community Healthcore for year two implementation of Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project. This project established the East Texas Community Living Network (ETCLN) to enhance and expand community supports for people with developmental disabilities in order to reduce/prevent admissions to state supported living centers. Jones reviewed the goals of the project which include strengthening the capacity of community supports through Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and to increase awareness of the ETCLN and existing resources. During the first year of implementation 18 people have been trained to facilitate Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH), 54 people attended Person-Centered Thinking trainings, 2 Leadership Academy groups were formed, and 2 community projects were started by members of the Leadership Academy but were later dissolved because they did not adhere to the ABCD model. Changes to the Leadership Academy are planned for the next year to better implement the curriculum. It was acknowledged that changes to key staff have occurred with this project but outcomes are expected to improve with new staff that are implementing the project. Jones noted that due to the staffing issues, the first year of this project was extended by three months so the continuation to be considered is actually for nine months. Durheim clarified that despite the staff issues, the grantee conducted the agreed upon activities and that all positions have now been filled.

    MOTION: To approve up to $78,329 in continuation funding to Community Healthcore for the 2nd implementation year of a 5-year Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Kristen Cox
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Senior Grants Management Specialist Ellison next reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Texas A&M University for the final 10 months of a five year Bridge to Career in Human Services higher education project. Ellison reviewed project accomplishments which include 42 students in a 5-week summer program for 2014 with 26 of those students continuing in an extended fall program and 18 graduating, 74 applications were received with 31 admitted for the 2015 academic year, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) funding has been approved for individuals to attend these programs, and training tracks have been added to include child care in addition to human services. The final project year will include additional recruitment and training of students. Staff do not have concerns and recommend continuation of this project.

    MOTION: To approve up to $217,565 in continuation funding to Texas A&M University for the final year of a 5-year Higher Education project.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Grants Specialist Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation grant funding to Texas Tech University for Project CASE higher education project. She noted that two executive summaries have been presented, one for the final seven months of the project and one for 12 months (additional 5 months past the end of the project) at the original funding amount. She noted that the original goal of the project was to have ten students graduated and found competitive employment at the end of the five year project. At this point, 12 students have graduated with 5 in competitive employment, 2 are working on 4-year degrees, 2 are pursuing masters degrees and working as research assistants, 2 have been accepted in graduate programs and 1 is working with DARS to find employment. 25 students are currently enrolled with 11 in paid internships and 5 in non-paid internships. The final seven months of the project would continue the current activities. The proposal for extending the project for 5 months would plan, design and hold a statewide conference to engage partners to collaborate in higher education activities for people with developmental disabilities or add a day to the Texas Transition conference for the same collaborative activities. Funding for the additional five months would not exceed the original allocated amount for the final year of the project.

    MOTION: To approve up to $222,924 in continuation funding to Texas Tech University for the final seven months of a 5-year Higher Education project and for an additional five months to include the establishment of collaborative activities with other organizations regarding higher education for people with developmental disabilities. These activities should be prioritized by adding to the Texas Transition Conference and then if funds are available, establish a second stand-alone conference.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Gladys Cortez
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry discussed the success of the higher education projects and noted other community colleges and universities are looking at adding programs for students with developmental disabilities. She suggested the potential for a 2–5 year project that could combine the knowledge of the existing projects and provide education for other entities. Durheim agreed and suggested it be addressed in Project Development Committee discussions for future funding ideas.

    Durheim also requested that project staff from Texas Tech University provide a presentation to the Council on the higher education project.

  8. Appeal of Funding Decisions — Helpful Interventions
    Executive Director Stalvey reminded Committee members of decisions at the August meeting to fund Culturally Competent Family Support projects and that an application from Helpful Interventions was not approved for funding. An appeal was received from Helpful Interventions on this decision and staff responded per policy acknowledging the appeal and then conducting an evaluation of the appeal with the results sent to the Executive Committee. Council policies do not allow appeals based on the content of the funding decision but only on the process of determining those decisions. It was found that TCDD staff and the Committee did follow the process in basing its decision to not award funding to Helpful Interventions.

    MOTION: To uphold the Committee decision to the not award funding to Helpful Interventions.
    MADE BY: Gladys Cortez
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Stalvey further noted that Council policies may seem vague to the general public about what information can be considered in an appeal and language to clarify this could be considered in the future. Chair Durheim agreed and directed staff to propose revisions when Council policies are considered.

  9. TCDD Administrative Rules Review
    Executive Director Stalvey reviewed the three levels of policy that govern TCDD and the process to review/amend that policy. The Texas Administrative Code defines the rules adopted by the agency and must be reviewed and re-adopted every 4 years. Council policies and procedures further define operations of the Council and revisions are subject to Council approval. TCDD staff policies and procedures provide details for the day-to-day operations of the agency. TCDD staff policies and procedures were recently evaluated as part of the internal audit activities conducted by Weaver and Tidwell.

    The review of the administrative code is due in 2016 and guidelines for the review and/or revision of the code require posting for public comment in the Texas Register. As previously discussed with the Committee, staff drafted proposed amendments which would allow for payment withholding to a grantee that is non-compliant with reporting and documentation.

    Stalvey discussed the details for withholding payment but noted that it will be defined in Council policies which will be considered at a future Council meeting.

    Committee members discussed the payment withhold policy and offered recommendation for language in the Council policies. Stalvey reviewed draft language for this subject as well as for revisions to the appeal process. Members directed staff to use the language of “calendar days” to be consistent throughout the document.

    MOTION: To recommend Council approval of posting TCDD rules in the Texas Administrative Code to the Texas Register for public comment to include the rule review and adoption of revisions to allow for payment withholding for a non-compliant grantee.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

  10. TCDD Review Panel Recommendations
    Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry reported that independent review panels evaluated applications for three projects during the past quarter. Proposals were considered for RFPs for Understanding Employment Options and Supports, TCDD Policy Fellows, and Stakeholder Training on Guardianship Alternatives. Reviewers were asked to consider if the proposal met the intent of the RFP, the quality of the proposed plan, and if the organization can meet the desired outcomes of the project.

    Cordry first discussed the Understanding Employment Options and Supports RFP and noted that the project would develop training for individuals to understand options enabling them to continue to receive SSI/SSDI while increasing income and assets through gainful employment. The review panel ranked the proposal from the National Disability Institute (NDI) as one of two top proposals noting that a comprehensive infrastructure through NDI already exists and that a similar program in Florida could be adapted to meet Texas’ needs. Some review panel concerns are that Spanish language materials would not be available until the second year and that people with disabilities may not have access to technology needed for training. Staff acknowledged that due to the complexity of the topic, most individuals with disabilities would need support while being trained.

    A proposal from Community Options, Inc. was determined to be the second top-ranked proposal. This is an established organization that would share resources to develop materials and a curriculum training manual to be shared with human services providers. It would establish peer advisors to enhance training and appear in training videos. Concerns of the review panel include the sustainability of the peer-advisors after TCDD funding ends and that the first phase of project appears to be overly ambitious in that more time would be necessary to complete the goals.

    A third project from the University of North Texas was ranked behind the other two proposals and was not recommended for funding consideration due to multiple concerns. A fourth proposal was submitted but was incomplete and therefore not evaluated by the review panel.

    MOTION: To award funding of up to $150,000 per year for up to two years to the National Disability Institute for Understanding Employment Options and Supports project.
    MADE BY: Mary Durheim
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    It was clarified that NDI is a non-profit. It was also recommended that contractors for Spanish translation of materials should be local to Texas. The motion passed unanimously.

    Cordry next reviewed review panel recommendations for TCDD Policy Fellows. The top ranked proposal was received from Texas Parent to Parent but a number of concerns were expressed. The proposal did not list a salary for the selected fellow but noted the individual would be paid with match funds. It was also noted that the fellow would be an individual with a disability or a family member but the RFP made clear the need for a person with a graduate-level understanding of policy issues. The focus appeared to have the fellow developing training for self-advocates and would need to “master the continuum of disability policy issues”. Concern was also expressed that the fellow would be working with organizations that do not share the philosophies of the Council regarding integrated residential settings.

    The second ranked proposal was from Easter Seals of Central Texas and also had significant concerns. The job description for the fellow was not well defined but seemed to be focused on an advocate training program. Support and training for the fellow was also not defined. Errors in the proposed budget were substantial.

    The third ranked proposal was from the Providers Alliance for Community Services of Texas and also lacked a focus on training the fellow but indicated the fellow would work with a provider to help teach self-advocacy to the people they serve. The fellow would focus on long-term care which is a TCDD policy priority but concerns included the described job duties that were more outreach focused than policy oriented. Significant budget concerns including lack of funding for the supervision of the fellow were also noted.

    Committee members expressed a dis-satisfaction with all of the proposals and noted that they did not feel the applications met the intent of the RFP.

    MOTION: To not fund any of the received proposals for TCDD Policy Fellows.
    MADE BY: Gladys Cortez
    SECOND: Mary Durheim
    The motion passed unanimously. Durheim directed staff to re-issue the RFP as soon as TCDD staff member schedules allow.

    Cordry next reviewed the proposal from Disability Rights Texas for Stakeholder Training for Guardianship Alternatives. A second proposal was not complete. The review panel felt the proposal has the potential for a large impact by focusing on a variety of groups including individuals and families, legal professionals, educational professionals and others. The proposal supports individuals’ full inclusion in community and promotes self-determination. Disability Rights Texas has been engaged as a partner with the Texas Guardianship Reform and Supported Decision Making group. Concerns are that products should address diversity and be expanded to include more than English, Spanish, and American Sign Language. It was acknowledged that the project would not be sustainable past TCDD funding but wouldn’t be expected as such.

    MOTION: To approve funding of up to $40,000 per year for up to three years to Disability Rights Texas for Stakeholder Training on Guardianship Alternatives project.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

  11. TCDD Quarterly Financial Report
    Operations Director Cantu reviewed the quarterly financial report noting that FY 2014 funds have been fully obligated and no funds are expected to remain from that budget year. FY 2015 funds have been obligated with $765,478 still available to re-obligate for projects. FY 2016 funds are budgeted on projected basis equal to FY 2015 funds as the Notice of Grant Award is not expected from the federal government until February and there is expected to be an approximate $750,000 balance after planned projects. Committee members asked that future budget reports be presented prior to the Committee making decisions on funding grant projects so that they are fully aware of the availability of funds. It was noted that when developing future projects, consideration should be given to higher funding amounts.

    Cantu further reviewed operating expenses for FY 2015 and noted that although negative variances are noted for staff benefits the overall budget will not be exceeded. Operating expenses for FY 2016 were not presented as only one month has passed but will be reviewed at the next meeting.

    A revised/condensed format of the funds allocated to current grantees was presented and Committee members were generally in favor of the proposed format. Revisions were suggested to include subtotals for each project year and indicate the project year.

  12. Conflict of Interest Disclosures
    Committee members reviewed updated conflict of interest disclosure information for Council members and staff. No concerns were noted.


Chair Durheim adjourned the Executive Committee at 5:38 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council