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Minutes — Project Development Committee Meeting, February 11, 2010

(As Approved by the Committee May 6, 2010)


Call to Order — Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Project Development Committee met on Thursday, February 11, 2010 in the Omni E Suite of the Omni Austin Hotel-Southpark, 4140 Governor’s Row, Austin, Texas 78744. Committee Chair Susan Vardell called the meeting to order at 1:25 P.M. A quorum was present.

I. Introduction of Committee Members, Staff and Visitors

Committee members, staff, and guests were introduced.

II. Approval of Minutes

The Committee reviewed minutes of the November 13, 2009, Committee meeting.

MOTION: To approve the minutes of the November 13, 2009, Project Development Committee meeting minutes as presented.

MADE BY: Kristen Cox

SECOND: Margaret Christen, TEA

The motion passed without opposition.

III. Grants and Projects Report

A. Projected Available Funds Update Committee

Chair Susan Vardell reviewed with the Committee the information concerning projected funding available for additional grant projects during coming years.

B. Current Project Funding Updates

Vardell reviewed with the Committee the Federal Areas of Emphasis and the Projections Graph and Key charts.

C. Projects Training Calendar

The Committee reviewed the TCDD Project Training Schedule. Members were encouraged to attend grantee trainings but were asked to contact TCDD Grants Management staff in advance to liaison with Grantees as a courtesy. Vardell reminded Council members that their role when attending is merely as a visitor and not in a “monitoring” capacity.

D. Staff Activities Report

Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry updated the Committee on various activities including:

  1. Three conference calls were coordinated to provide potential applicants with information about the Higher Education for Students with Developmental Disabilities RFP.
  2. The RFP for the African American Family Support Conference is scheduled to be posted on 2-12-2010. The RFP will also be announced and publicized at Austin Travis County Integral Care’s Central Texas African American Family Support Conference.

Cordry also informed the Committee that a Memorandum of Understanding between TCDD and DADS is being drafted regarding the TCDD’s funding of two pilot sites for a demonstration of Volunteer Advocate Supported Decision Making program. DADS will coordinate the workgroup required by HB 1454 for these projects, and will coordinate the evaluation of the projects and prepare reports as required for the Texas Legislature.

Cordry discussed with the Committee other current staff activities, including:

  • exploring possible strategies to provide input into new medical schools being developed in Texas to share the successes of Council medical-related projects such as Project DOCC and the Baylor Medical Transition Clinic, and to advocate for the inclusion of these models in training programs;
  • staff work to finalize an application packet for stipends to be available to grassroots groups representing people with developmental disabilities who come from unserved and underserved communities; and
  • activities to prepare for the development of TCDD’s 2011 – 2016 State Plan.

IV. Consideration of Future Funding Activities

A. Update on Interagency Transition Activities

Cordry, TEA representative Margaret Christen, and DSHS representative Kathy Griffis-Bailey provided a summary of Interagency Transition Activities and information about transition-related resources that are currently in existence and available to parents. The Committee discussed the possibility of developing a project to demonstrate best practices related to transition.

B. Meaningful Relationships Project

The Committee reviewed and recommended Council approval of the Executive Summary for a Request for Proposals for a Meaningful Relationships project.

MOTION: To recommend Council approval of the Executive Summary for a Meaningful Relationships project to be initiated by a Request for Proposal with up to $125,000 per year available for up to three years.

MADE BY: John Morris

SECOND: Andrew Crim

The Committee discussed the wording in the Executive Summary and made changes. The Committee recommended the second sentence under “Other Considerations,” number 1, be changed from “In addition, TCDD might require…” to “In addition, TCDD will require”; and that the sentence under number 2 be changed to “Toolkits, websites, curriculum, videos, or other products developed with the use of TCDD funds must be reviewed and approved in writing by TCDD before being made and once completed.” Members agreed by consensus to make these revisions.

The Motion passed without opposition. (Attachment 1 as revised.)

C. Consideration of Next Steps for Projects Ending in 2011

The Committee reviewed the next steps for leadership and advocacy projects ending in 2011, and requested that staff review the possibility of invited project staff from several of the projects to present their activities to the Council.

D. Future Project Funding Priorities

The Committee reviewed the Future Funding Priorities List and made no changes.

V. Future Public Policy Collaboration Activities

The Committee discussed proposed future TCDD public policy collaboration activities as recommended by the Committee of the Whole. A majority of members agreed that any new activities should be procured by a Request for Proposal solicitation that would be open for competitive bids for any interested organization. A majority of members also agreed not to extend the DPC project.

VI. Other Discussion Items

The Committee reviewed information about the College of Direct Support (CDS) as requested at the previous meeting and asked staff to bring more details to the May meeting about costs of contracting with CDS to provide training for Texas’ direct support staff.


There being no further business, Committee Chair Vardell adjourned the meeting at 4:35 PM.

Roger A. Webb, Secretary to the Council


Attachment 1: Future Funding Proposal, Executive Summary, Meaningful Relationships


The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) exists to create change so that all people with developmental disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. TCDD’s numerous grant projects have sought to remove barriers related to the education, housing, employment, transportation, healthcare, and recreation needs of people with disabilities, striving with all projects to include quality of life for Texans with developmental disabilities. Numerous studies have indicated that close, meaningful relationships and other types of supportive relationships can significantly improve one’s perception of quality of life, have a positive effect on one’s health, and increase one’s ability to withstand the effects of stress. In addition, it has been hypothesized that individuals with severe disabilities may be less likely to experience abuse and/or neglect if they have meaningful personal relationships with others. Unfortunately, anecdotal data indicates that many people with severe disabilities experience an absence of support for meaningful personal relationships.

Many of the identified barriers to building meaningful relationships are related to a lack of sufficient support to overcome such logistical problems such as geographical isolation, transportation problems, and/or financial hardship that does not allow participation in many of the types of activities through which people typically form relationships with others outside of their family. However, attitudinal barriers – including active discouragement (or prohibition) of romantic relationships raged living in congregate facilities, group homes, or with families – also prevent many people with developmental disabilities from even having the opportunity to experience close, healthy relationships with people outside of their families and/or care givers.

Effective programs to introduce people to each other and to provide supports to facilitate healthy friendships, romantic relationships, and marriages have been demonstrated in other states and countries. Partnerships between organizations that are concerned mainly with “disability issues” and more generic community service agencies (such as Planned Parenthood) also have been successful in providing support to individuals with developmental disabilities in their relationships.

In FY2009, TCDD posted a “Request for Ideas” to solicit ideas for projects that might demonstrate or establish supports in Texas that will assist individuals to form the kinds of meaningful relationships that they desire. In November of 2009, TCDD’s Project Development Committee reviewed 8 project ideas and expressed interest in funding a project that would blend concepts from many of the ideas submitted. In particular, the Council was interested in seeing:

  1. Demonstrating how service clubs and volunteer organizations can, if necessary, alter their culture and activities, to support full and equal participation by individuals with developmental disabilities in a way that will promote the development of relationships based on common interests and shared values.
  2. Demonstrating how a facilitated process may assist people with developmental disabilities to identify and express relationship-related needs and preferences and to explore strategies for meeting and establishing relationships with others, so that they have the skills to develop meaningful personal relationships for themselves.
  3. Demonstrating how individuals who provide support for people with developmental disabilities can encourage and support those whom they support to develop and maintain close, respectful, long-term relationships. This may include providing policy change recommendations to agencies that are paid to provide such services.

State Plan Goal and Objective

Goal 5: People with developmental disabilities receive quality care for mental and physical health and have access to wellness support in their communities.

Objective 4: Explore and consider funding activities to demonstrate the effectiveness of providing supports for individuals with developmental disabilities to form and maintain healthy, meaningful long-term relationships, by September 30, 2011.

Expected Outcome

  1. Over three years, at least 60 people with developmental disabilities (or their designee) will report increased satisfaction with their personal relationships after receiving individualized supports to enable them to meet others and develop relationships that they consider meaningful.
  2. At least 3 organizations will implement policy and/or procedural change(s) in order to actively improve their ability to facilitate the development and maintenance of meaningful relationships for people with developmental disabilities.

Project Description

One organization will be funded to implement activities in at least one site. If multiple applications are determined to be fundable and are of comparable quality, preference will be given to organizations expressing the will and the ability to implement project activities in more than one site, particularly if one of the chosen sites is a rural area.

The organization funded through this grant will work with other organizations to demonstrate:

  1. How to provide individualized supports to people with developmental disabilities to assist them to determine their goals in relationships, to meet others, and to develop meaningful, healthy, long-term relationships with others.
  2. How to provide training and/or technical assistance to enable organizations that provide services to people with developmental disabilities to improve how they encourage and support their clients to develop and maintain meaningful relationships.
  3. How to provide training and/or technical assistance to enable service clubs and volunteer organizations to, if necessary, alter their culture and activities, to support full and equal participation by individuals with developmental disabilities in a way that will promote the development of relationships based on common interests, shared values, and respect.

Involvement by people with developmental disabilities in planning activities

The organization implementing this project must assure that the development and implementation of all activities is driven by direct input from people with developmental disabilities. Project leadership and staff must include people who have disabilities, although people who do not have disabilities who have demonstrated technical expertise related to project activities may also hold leadership and staff roles. Organization(s) implementing this project are encouraged to use focus groups of people with developmental disabilities, led by people with developmental disabilities: to identify actual barriers to relationships that have been experienced by individuals with developmental disabilities that may not be widely recognized or understood; and to vet strategies that might be used to achieve project goals. Focus group information should be summarized to inform the development and implementation of the project, but specific personal information or personal situations described in focus groups may only be shared as group participants allow.

Development and implementation of project activities must demonstrate an understanding of cultural competency. The grantee must include activities in the project workplan to identify specifically how ethnicity may influence the values, lifestyle, and goals of individual participants and how project activities may be adapted to successfully recruit and/or address specific needs and/or preferences of people who belong to minority ethnic groups.

Cultural Competency and Diversity

Proposed Funding Amount: Up to $125,000 per year for one project related to this Executive Summary.

Proposed Duration: Up to three years per project for all projects related to this Executive Summary.

Other Considerations: Activities conducted under this project will be very closely monitored by TCDD staff and may be discontinued at any time if they are deemed harmful or inappropriate.

  1. Any project proposing to use online social networking technology will be required to explore safety issues with TCDD prior to obtaining approval for funding. In addition, TCDD will require the project to incorporate specific advice or cautions offered by organizations that are recognized for their expertise and work related to promoting safety in online behavior, such the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; organizations that advocate for the civil rights of people with developmental disabilities; and organizations that exist to prevent domestic violence and other abuses that may occur in close relationships.
  2. Toolkits, websites, curriculum, videos, or other products developed with the use of TCDD funds must be reviewed and approved in writing by the TCDD Communications Coordinator and other designated individuals before being made and once completed.
  3. Upon successful completion of the project activities and achievement of stated outcomes, the grantee may apply for funds for one additional year to promote any products, make presentations, and conduct other activities as appropriate to encourage replication of the program in other regions of the state.