The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) held its quarterly Council and Committee Meetings from August 1 to August 3 in Austin. During the meetings, the Council funded new innovative projects, learned about current disability-related issues, and developed priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
The Council approves and monitors the implementation of TCDD’s Five-Year State Plan, which guides TCDD’s projects and policy work. This quarter, the Council discussed topics for future State Plan activities, including the high rates of sexual assault amongst people with disabilities, the need for mental health services for people with co-occurring disabilities, higher education strategies, and self-employment practices.
The Council also addressed policy-related topics and developed a list of draft priorities for the 86th legislative session. Topics included access to community-based services, Medicaid managed care, and transportation issues. Once finalized, the Council’s legislative priorities will be posted on the TCDD website.
Grants and Stipends
The Council awarded grant funding for two new projects. Texas Advocates received a grant to establish book clubs throughout the state. Through the project, local book clubs for people with developmental disabilities (DD) will meet in the community and offer opportunities for social interaction and learning. The Hatching Hope Foundation received an Outreach and Development grant to increase access to autism services for underserved communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The Council also awarded continuation funding for multiple projects that are already in progress. Below are the names of the grantees and the associated projects:
- Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (TCDD Policy Fellow)
- Disability Rights Texas (TCDD Policy Fellow)
- Easterseals Central Texas (Leadership Development and Advocacy Training)
- Family to Family Network (Leadership Development and Advocacy Training)
- Light & Salt Association (Culturally Appropriate Family Supports)
- Mounting Horizons (Youth Leadership Development)
- Paso Del Norte Children’s Development Center (Leadership Development and Advocacy Training)
- Safe Alliance (Youth Leadership Development)
- Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas at Austin (Texas Statewide Sibling Network)
- The Arc of Texas (TCDD Policy Fellow)
- Volar Center for Independent Living (Building Community Capacity through Collaboration)
TCDD provides stipends to increase access to disability-related information and advocacy skills. Event Stipends support people with DD and family members to attend informational conferences or advocacy skills training events. Disability-Related Speaker Stipends support presentations on disability-related issues at conferences and workshops in Texas. In the past quarter, TCDD awarded stipends to the following organizations (related events in parentheses):
- Alamo Area Councils on Government (Texas Gathering on Person-Centered Practices)
- The Arc of Greater Houston (3rd Annual Positive Futures Conference)
- The Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas (Bodies, Boundaries & Dating for Individuals with Down Syndrome)
- The Texas Tribune (The Texas Tribune Festival)
To learn more about Event Stipends and Disability-Related Speaker Stipends, visit our Funding Available page.
The Council’s purpose is to connect with community partners and serve as a resource on DD issues to others – people with disabilities, advocates, legislators, and other decision-makers. To accomplish these goals, the Council works to stay up-to-date and informed on trends in Texas that could affect people with DD. During the August Council Meeting, several guest presenters shared information about advocacy and leadership opportunities, organizations, and analysis. Below is a list of presentations from the August Council Meeting:
- Millennials & Disability Advocacy: Ashley Ford, TCDD Public Policy and Communications Specialist, provided a presentation on how to engage millennials in disability advocacy. Ford discussed current American demographics, the types of activism preferred by millennials, and how best to include this age group in disability-related policy and advocacy discussions.
Latinxs with Disabilities: Monica Villarreal, co-founder of the National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities (CNLD), spoke about CNLD’s beginnings and mission. After hosting its first two annual conferences in Chicago and Berkeley, California, CNLD held its third conference in Austin this summer. Monica also discussed CNLD’s role in representing Latinxs with disabilities and their intersecting identities.
Advocacy Training in South Texas: Staff members from Easterseals Central Texas (ESCT) presented on their TCDD-funded Leadership Development and Advocacy Training project. Through the project, ESCT has hosted bilingual advocacy training programs in Brownsville and McAllen. ESCT staff discussed the strengths of the program and best practices for tailoring trainings to meet the needs of both English and Spanish-speaking audiences.
Telecommunications: Lori Breslow from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) provided a presentation on the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP). She explained who qualifies for STAP waivers, the steps necessary to complete an application, and the recent increase in applications received by HHSC.
Special Education in Texas: Justin Porter, executive director of special populations for the Texas Education Agency, presented on the agency’s strategic plan for special education. The plan includes monitoring, engaging families and communities, and technical assistance networks.
Next Council Meeting
TCDD’s next quarterly Council and Committee Meetings will be held November 7 to November 9, 2018, in Austin. To receive updates about future Council Meetings, visit the Get Involved with TCDD webpage for ways to follow us.