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Minutes — Committee of the Whole Meeting, August 5, 2010

(As approved by the Committee November 3, 2010)


Council Members Present

Council Members Absent

  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Dana Perry
  • Susan Vardell

Staff Members Present

Guests Present

Call to Order

The Committee of the Whole of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities met on Thursday, August 5, 2010, in the Hill Country C&D Room of the Hyatt Regency Austin, 208 Barton Springs Rd. Austin, TX 78704. Council Chair Brenda Coleman-Beattie called the meeting to order at 9:01 AM.


Committee members, staff and guests were introduced.

Public Comments

Public comments were offered by the following individuals:

  • Ileene Robinson spoke about the Public Policy Committee agenda item concerning a moratorium on admissions to State Supported Living Centers (SSLCs) and asked that Council members consider the choice of a SSLC as an option for Texans with severe disabilities. She noted that she had recently taken a Council member on a tour and asked other members to tour other facilities as well.
  • Sandra Reeves also spoke about SSLCs, asking for diverse options for people with intellectual disabilities including ICFs/MR for those with the most severe disabilities and those who are medically fragile.
  • Debbie Salinas Valdez spoke about her concern regarding state laws for paid, certified guardians. She noted that oversight and standards for these guardians are not sufficient to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. She also stated that there are no standards for family guardianship, leaving family guardians at risk of allegations of abuse and neglect and in danger of losing their family member to a paid guardianship program. She suggested that guardianship has become a growing business because guardians make money for persons in their care.
  • Dr. Patrick Herndon also spoke on guardianship issues stating that the problem is with the Texas state probate and family laws which allow for permanent removal of a person’s rights but do not provide needed services. He asked the Council to research this issue and develop alternatives to guardianship. Coleman-Beattie noted that the Public Policy Committee would discuss a request from Advocacy, Inc., to join in a call for a moratorium on admissions to state schools. She also commented on guardianship matters by noting that the Council has been addressing that issue in recent activities. Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry noted that TCDD has posted a Request for Proposals for a peer advocate support project as an alternative to guardianship. Public Policy Director Angela Lello indicated that public policy staff are working with legislative offices to determine their intent for action on that issue in the upcoming legislative session.

Conference Report

Council member Lora Taylor reported on her experience at the ADD Technical Assistance Institute in June 2010. She noted an especially inspiring session by Allen Bergman and spoke about her experiences after the conference. She indicated that after a conversation in which she argued for closure of SSLCs, she visited the Richmond and Brenham SSLCs and changed her opinion. She now feels she should advocate for the choice of care at SSLCs and asked other Council members to visit the SSLCs and form their own opinions.

Margaret Christen spoke about her experience at the ADD Technical Assistance Institute and expressed her opinion about advocating for a continuum of services and supports for people with developmental disabilities.

Cordry spoke about the conference as well, noting that she attended a different track that focused on evidence-based practices and getting the best impact from DD Council projects. She stated that the new ADD Commissioner, Sharon Lewis, will work with Councils to develop realistic outcomes measures to report to ADD. Cordry also appreciated the opportunity to meet with staff and members of other Councils to talk about their activities and outlook for the future.

Review of Key Agenda Items

Public Policy Committee Chair Rick Tisch and Council member Andy Crim (serving as chair of the Project Development Committee) provided overviews of key discussion items planned for their respective committees.

Chair’s Remarks

Excused absences for this meeting include Kimberly Blackmon, Dana Perry and Susan Vardell.

Coleman-Beattie reported on activities surrounding the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that took place in July. Angie English, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, will join the Council during these meetings to present a proclamation issued by Governor Perry on the anniversary of the ADA.

Jeff Kaufmann has been designated as the Department of Aging and Disability Services representative following the retirement of Don Henderson. Sandy Graham has been appointed as the alternate representative from the UT Center for Disability Studies; and Dr. Lesa Walker, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) representative, plans to retire at the end of August.

Coleman-Beattie advised members that she authorized continued funding of travel support for public members of HHSC advisory committees through the 2012-2013 biennium. TCDD asked HHSC to request authorization to reimburse for those expenses in the agency’s Legislative Appropriations Requests for FY 2012-2013. Given the current financial outlook for the state, that authorization is not likely. Because of the critical need for those committees to have public representation and a voice from advocates and their families as the State has budget discussions about services for people with disabilities, Coleman-Beattie authorized continued funding by TCDD for this activity. HHSC has agreed to work with TCDD toward an eventual transition of those expenses in the future. TCDD currently provides approximately $25,000 per year for this activity.

Emergency Back-up Plans and Succession Planning Procedures

Executive Director Roger Webb provided background information on the work to draft emergency back-up plans for executive staff and a succession planning procedure for the executive director. Don Tebbe of TransitionGuides explained that these procedures will ensure continuity and sustainability in the absence of any executive staff. The result of the work includes the draft documents as “hard-products” as well as “soft-products” such as staff collaboration and cross-training activities. Tebbe explained how the documents were developed from a best-practice model but tailored to TCDD. He noted that emergency back-up plans are specific to each person who occupies the position and should be reviewed annually to keep the plans current. The succession planning document was designed to be a lasting document for the agency whenever there is a planned vacancy in that position. These items were reviewed during the Executive Committee meeting and will be considered at the Council meeting Friday.

TCDD Grant Project & Award Approval Procedures

Webb provided an overview of the process to approve grant projects. Changes in state law following the Council’s last sunset review transferred responsibilities to the Council for approving and executing a budget and for approving grants and contracts. Those responsibilities had previously been delegated to the Council’s prior designated agency, the legacy Texas Rehabilitation Commission. Following those changes in law, the Council developed procedures for approving budgets, contracts and grants. Council Policies delegate responsibility to the Executive Director to approve contracts of less then $10,000 and to approve stipend grants. The Council is responsible for approving all other grants and contracts. Webb further explained that the grant development process, review of proposals by an independent panel, and final approval of new and continuation awards by the Executive Committee are currently established in Council Policies. It is the Council’s option to change these processes should members have that interest, and members were encouraged to discuss various options. A brief discussion took place and members questioned how the process works in other states. Council member John Morris noted that all members receive the material related to grant awards approved by the Executive Committee in meeting binders, and any member is welcome to attend those meetings and provide input on grant awards if desired. Coleman-Beattie suggested that the Project Development Committee might want to continue this discussion during that Committee meeting.

82nd Texas Legislative Session

Public Policy Director Lello provided an overview of the 82nd legislative session which begins in January including upcoming elections, leadership positions, key committees, important dates and the process for bills to become a law. She discussed the impending budget crisis and provided a demonstration on how the state budget is allocated noting that funding for services for people with disabilities is at risk of being cut due to budget constraints. Public policy staff are available to work with members who wish to provide information to their legislators.

TCDD FY 2012 – 2016 State Plan Development Activities

Planning Coordinator Cordry gave a presentation on the process for developing the next state plan. She reminded members of their decision to develop the next state plan using a “strategic” model and recommended a focus of not more than 2-3 areas. She added that it should be driven by the mission of the Council, and it should have supporting data, measurable objectives and be focused on achievable goals.

Cordry reviewed federal requirements for the state plan and noted that “federal areas of emphasis” are not intended to drive the plan. Cordry provided a brief “state of the state” overview and discussed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for services for people with disabilities identified by staff. She discussed what is needed to create systems change including power and knowledge, a “policy window” or the right environment and strategies for action. Cordry indicated that staff recommend using a planning model developed by the Pennsylvania DD Council to guide the development of the state plan which looks at key indicators of success needed for systems change.

Members discussed the opportunity of inviting Pennsylvania DD Council Executive Director Graham Mullholland to speak at the November meetings and discussed various options to accommodate Mulholland’s schedule. Members agreed to meet November 1-3 instead of November 3-5 so that Mulholland can present on November 2, 2010.

Draft 2010 Biennial Report Recommendations

Lello reviewed draft recommendations for the 2010 Biennial Disability Report. These recommendations were developed by reviewing the recommendations from 2008 Biennial Report and evaluating which had been achieved and which still needed efforts. Staff recommends that the many of the recommendations continue until they are implemented or no longer relevant.

Lello explained that a survey was coordinated with the assistance of the survey department at UT-Austin that collected data from individuals and family members of individuals who are on the interest lists for the Home and Community Based Services (HCS) Medicaid waiver and the Community Living and Support Services (CLASS) waiver. Results of the survey will be available at the November meetings. Members discussed the recommendation to decrease the number of individuals served in institutional settings noting that services need to be available in the community to serve those individuals. Further discussion on the recommendations will take place during the November meetings and members were encouraged to review the 2008 report prior to that time.


Members were encouraged to submit their conflict of interest disclosure forms and update any necessary information.


Chair Coleman-Beattie adjourned the Committee of the Whole at 1:45 PM.


Roger A. Webb, Secretary to the Council