(As Approved by the Council May 7, 2010)
- Call to Order
- I. Introductions
- II. Public Comments
- III. Consent Items
- IV. Chair’s Report
- VI. Executive Director’s Report
- VI. Nominating Committee Report
- VII. Amendments to TCDD Policies
- VIII. Revisions to TCDD Position Statements
- IX. Consideration of Future Funding Activities
- X. Executive Committee Report
- XI. Public Policy Committee Report
- XII. Project Development Committee Report
- XIII. Announcements and Updates
- Attachment 1: TCDD Policies, Proposed Amendments
- Attachment 2: Education Position Statement
- Attachment 3: Criminal Competency Position Statement
- Attachment 4: Children and Families Position Statement
- Attachment 5: Family Support Services Position Statement
- Attachment 6: Future Funding Proposal, Executive Summary, Meaningful Relationships
Council Members Present
- Brenda Coleman-Beattie, Council Chair
- Hunter Adkins
- Kristine Bissmeyer
- Kimberly Blackmon
- Margaret Christen, TEA
- Kristen Cox
- Andy Crim
- Mateo Delgado
- Mary Durheim
- Mary Faithfull, AI
- Elizabeth Gregowicz, DARS 1
- Cindy Johnston
- Jeff Kaufmann, DADS
- Diana Kern
- John Morris
- Dana Perry
- Joe Rivas
- Clare Seagraves, HHSC
- Amy Sharp, A&M CDD
- Lora Taylor
- Rick Tisch
- Susan Vardell
Council Members Absent
- Marcia Dwyer
- Kathy Griffis-Bailey, DSHS
- Deneesa Rasmussen
- Toni Byrd, DPC
- Linda Harman, attendant
- Jean Langendorf, DPC
- Sylvia Washington, Attendant
- Travis Wilson, Attendant
Staff Members Present
- Roger Webb, Executive Director
- Martha Cantu
- Belinda Carlton
- Cynthia Ellison
- Cassie Laws-Fisher
- Angela Lello
- Melissa Loe
- Koren Vogel
Call to Order
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities met on Friday, February 12, 2010 in the Omni C Room of the Omni Southpark Hotel, 4140 Governor’s Row, Austin, TX 78744. Council Chair Brenda Coleman-Beattie called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM.
Council members, staff and guests were introduced.
II. Public Comments
Disability Policy Consortium (DPC) Project Director Jean Langendorf provided public comments on the DPC project expressing her appreciation to the Council and staff during the transition of the grant project from UCP-Tx to Easter Seals of Central Texas. She indicated that she feels the DPC has provided measurable outcomes consistent with the project’s expectations and hopes the importance of the DPC project to small disability organizations won’t be overlooked as the Council considers its next steps with public policy collaboration activities.
III. Consent Items
Chair Coleman-Beattie asked for a motion to approve minutes of the November 2009 Council and Committee of the Whole meetings as well as excused absences for the Council and Committee meetings.
MADE BY: Kristen Cox
SECOND: Kris Bissmeyer
The motion passed unanimously.
IV. Chair’s Report
Coleman-Beattie thanked Vice-Chair Mary Durheim for chairing the Committee of the Whole on Thursday. Coleman-Beattie emceed the 10th Annual Central Texas African-American Family Support Conference (CTAAFSC) which she has been involved with since its inception.
Coleman-Beattie indicated the Governor’s appointments office is hoping to fill the vacancy created when Rene Requenez passed away recently. She noted that one of Requenez’s suggestions was to provide opportunities for members to have some informal, social time with other members such as the time Thursday evening. She asked for input and suggestions from other members as well.
Coleman-Beattie reviewed the request from state leadership for state agencies to submit plans to reduce state General Revenue (GR) spending during the current two-year biennium by 5%. Although TCDD does not receive any GR funds, the agency will continue to be mindful of expenditures and closely monitor travel expenditures.
VI. Executive Director’s Report
Executive Director Webb advised members that TCDD’s federal allotment for Fiscal Year 2010 is $5,106,030. This represents a 1.4% increase over funds available for Fiscal Year 2009.
Webb noted that Grants Management Director Patrice LeBlanc recently selected Wendy Jones for the Grants Management Specialist position. Jones will begin her employment with TCDD on February 16, 2010.
VI. Nominating Committee Report
Nominating Committee Chair Hunter Adkins reviewed the Committee’s discussions about nominations for Council Vice-Chair and for Consumer Delegate-at-Large to the Executive Committee.
MADE BY: Hunter Adkins for the Nominating Committee (motions from Committee actions do not need a second)
There were no other nominations from the floor. The motion passed unanimously (Elizabeth Gregowicz as a non-voting member). Chair Coleman-Beattie thanked Council Member Andy Crim for his participation in and support of the nominating committee.
VII. Amendments to TCDD Policies
Coleman-Beattie and Audit Committee Chair Mary Durheim reviewed proposed amendments to Council policies (Attachment 1). The Audit Committee proposes amendments to clarify the functions of the Committee and to increase the number of times the Committee meets each year. The Executive Committee presented suggested amendments to the requirements for notifying members of proposed amendments to policies. The amendment will allow members to designate if they prefer to receive such notifications by mail or electronically (i.e., e-mail).
MADE BY: John Morris
SECOND: Lora Taylor
The motion passed unanimously (Elizabeth Gregowicz as a non-voting member).
VIII. Revisions to TCDD Position Statements
Public Policy Committee Chair Rick Tisch reported that the Public Policy Committee reviewed and is proposing revisions to the Education, Criminal Competency, Children and Families and Family Support Services Position Statements (Attachments 2-5). The Position Statement on Access to Health Care Services will be reviewed after Congress takes final action on the health care reform bill.
MADE BY: Rick Tisch for the Public Policy Committee
The motion passed unanimously (Elizabeth Gregowicz as a non-voting member).
IX. Consideration of Future Funding Activities
Coleman-Beattie asked for a summary from the Public Policy Committee and Project Development Committee Chairs on discussions about future TCDD public policy collaboration activities. Tisch reported that the Public Policy Committee recommended that the Council make a decision on future TCDD public policy collaboration activities no later than the May 2010 Council meetings. Project Development Committee Chair Susan Vardell indicated that the consensus of Project Development Committee members is to solicit proposals for new projects by an open Request for Proposals (RFP) with specific measurable outcomes, and to consider awarding funds for more than one project. Further, the Committee suggests that project outcomes should come from the recommendations of the ad-hoc workgroup that were approved by the Committee of the Whole at its meeting on Thursday. (Attachment included with Committee of the Whole minutes.)
John Morris suggested that measurable outcomes could be added to the current Disability Policy Consortium (DPC) project activities and TCDD could solicit proposals for a new project with an open an RFP. Morris encouraged that a transition period be considered for the current DPC grant after the current funding period that concludes June 30, 2010.
Coleman-Beattie summarized recommendations from the Committees to include 1) a decision on future TCDD public policy collaboration projects should be made by the conclusion of the May 2010 meetings, and should use recommendations of the ad-hoc workgroup regarding performance outcome measures for future projects as the basis for developing an open RFP, and 2) consideration of additional transition funding for the current (DPC). Coleman-Beattie proposed entertaining one motion on process and a separate motion on transition funding for the current project. Members concurred with this proposal.
Andy Crim noted that the majority consensus from the Project Development Committee, with some dissent, was to allow funding for the current DPC project to conclude on June 30, 2010, as currently designated by previous action of the Council (i.e., August 2009 Council meeting).
MADE BY: Rick Tisch
SECOND: Lora Taylor
Jeff Kaufmann asked staff to review the proposed measures carefully to determine if they were reliable, consistent with the Council’s mission, definable, measurable, etc. Kaufmann indicated that he did not feel there was a consensus regarding the measures, particularly the measurability of some measures. After discussion, members agreed for the Executive Committee to provide a preliminary review of the draft material during an April Executive Committee meeting. That agreement was accepted as part of the motion. Coleman-Beattie encouraged members to join the Committee for that discussion if interested.
The motion passed. Claire Seagraves abstained (Elizabeth Gregowicz non-voting member).
Coleman-Beattie next asked members for additional thoughts regarding any additional transition activities past the end of the current DPC grant period June 30, 2010. Tisch indicated that the Public Policy Committee did not have any further recommendations, while noting that the Committee anticipated further discussion at the May meeting. Crim again noted that the consensus from Project Development, with some dissent, was to allow DPC project funding to conclude as planned on June 30, 2010.
Morris indicated he was the dissenting opinion on the Project Development Committee and suggested that it is important to continue funding the DPC project until there is a transition to another project. He disagreed with the suggestion that the consortium could continue without funding. Amy Sharp agreed with Morris stating that organizations do not continue without funding. Additionally, she felt the Council’s advocacy training effort would be “diluted” similar to the transition at the end of funding for the Partners in Policymaking project, and does not want to see the public policy collaboration efforts through the DPC have the same outcome. Kristen Cox noted that TCDD has funds available that are not allocated at this point that could be spent on transition activities. Mary Durheim added that her research about consortiums in Washington, DC, suggests that most exist without funding. In response to a question about the amount of funding necessary to continue current DPC support through December 2011, Council members were advised that $80,000 would continue project activities for an additional six months at the current level funding.
MADE BY: Susan Vardell for the Project Development Committee
SECOND: Andy Crim
John Morris questioned if an additional, conflicting motion could be entertained after the vote. Coleman-Beattie clarified that the outcome of the motion under consideration would determine if a subsequent motion would be in order.
Mary Faithfull clarified that if the motion is approved, funding for current DPC project activities will stop on June 30, 2010, before another project is in place. Tisch noted that the Council will not “stop funding” as suggested since the current project’s authorization period has expired. Faithfull suggested that members were being asked to make a decision without knowing the future alternatives. Coleman-Beattie indicated that until a new project is in place TCDD staff will continue their various public policy collaboration duties and activities. Vardell commented that the discussion is about how to get to the end goals regarding public policy collaboration activities, not about the current project. Durheim added that just because the grant expires, as would any grant, collaboration and DPC activities do not have to cease to exist.
The motion passed. Claire Seagraves abstained (Elizabeth Gregowicz non-voting member).
Vardell reported on other discussions of the Project Development Committee for future projects. The Committee reviewed an Executive Summary for a Meaningful Relationships project and modified the project timeline. The Committee also added directions to include collaboration with organizations that promote safety issues such as the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children, especially where “online” activities are concerned. TCDD will require prior approval of grantee materials and will review completed materials prior to distribution.
MADE BY: Susan Vardell for the Project Development Committee (motions from Committee actions do not need a second)
The motion passed without opposition. Amy Sharp abstained. (Attachment 6 as approved.)
Vardell reported that the Project Development Committee did not revise Future Project Funding Priorities and did not take action on any other matters.
X. Executive Committee Report
Coleman-Beattie discussed the Conflict of Interest disclosure reports and noted that Hunter Adkins provided additional information not yet reflected on the report. Adkins disclosed that she participates in an Easter Seals summer program. No concerns were noted by the Executive Committee from reviewing the reports. Members were asked to review their disclosures and provide updates to TCDD staff.
Coleman-Beattie reviewed information about continuation grant awards and stipends awards approved during the quarter. The Executive Committee also discussed concerns about the progress of one current grant project and will review that matter in more detail at the April committee meeting.
Financial reports were discussed and no concerns were noted. Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed the financial reports for the close of FY 2009 and for FY 2010 to date and provided clarifications concerning expenses for travel and operating expenses. Both expense categories had large expenses during the first part of the fiscal year but will even out throughout the course of the year. Coleman-Beattie thanked Cantu for her work.
Coleman-Beattie reviewed revisions to Travel Procedures approved by the Executive Committee. Staff were asked to draft further clarification concerning reimbursements for respite care in response to a comment from members. That item will be reviewed by the Committee at its next meeting.
XI. Public Policy Committee Report
Committee Chair Tisch reviewed items discussed by the Public Policy Committee including reviews of various position statements and discussion about future TCDD public policy collaboration activities as reported previously. Committee members received a report on the TCDD Annual Report and other public information activities.
XII. Project Development Committee Report
Committee Chair Vardell reviewed discussions of the Project Development Committee including the current RFP for a conference similar to the Central Texas African American Family Support Conference as well as ideas for other projects.
Committee Chair Vardell noted that TCDD staff estimate that approximately $500,000 is currently available for new projects. Coleman-Beattie reminded Vardell that projects under discussion but not yet authorized, such as future public policy collaboration activities, are not included in those estimates. Coleman-Beattie asked the Committee to review their plans for future projects during the May meeting. A question was raised about reconsidering the option of providing transition funding for the DPC project since funds are currently available. It was suggested that some members feel that issue was unresolved. Vardell stated that she felt the issue was resolved since the motion approved by the Council clarified that funding for the DPC project ends June 30, 2010, as previously scheduled.
Tisch indicated that the Public Policy Committee did not reach a decision on any “transition” funding for this project. Coleman-Beattie agreed that her sense was that the motion approved by the Council was clear in determining to end funding support as previously scheduled. Amy Sharp asked if a motion could be offered to add transition funding for the current DPC project. Coleman-Beattie offered a concern that doing so would establish a precedent to add transition periods of funding for all ending grants. Sharp responded that exceptions should be made since public policy is such an important issue and that any future project could use the experience of current DPC staff. Mateo Delgado noted that the Council’s earlier motion was quite clear in providing a decision to end the project. Delgado added that other DPC organizations could offer to support various DPC activities or offer some funding support if they felt it necessary to maintain funding for those activities of the organization. Delgado also noted that the DPC project has been aware of the duration of the initial funding period and the subsequent six-month extension of funding through June 30, 2010, for a significant period of time and added that TCDD staff would address various transition activities.
A question was asked concerning whether remaining DD federal funds would be returned if not spent by the project. Executive Director Webb clarified TCDD has two years to obligate each year of federal funds and a third year to fully liquidate those funds. TCDD is not at the point where any of the funds are in jeopardy of being returned.
XIII. Announcements and Updates
Future meeting dates were discussed and members were asked to notify staff if the dates presented conflicts.
Chair Coleman-Beattie adjourned the Council meeting at 10:36 AM.
Roger A. Webb, Secretary to the Council
VII. Committees of the Council
D. Audit Committee Duties and Composition
- The Audit Committee shall have the following powers and duties, and others that may be designated from time to time by the Council.
- Annually review and make recommendations to the Council regarding an internal audit charter, an annual internal audit plan and any special audits;
- Approve submittal of the annual internal audit plan subject to review and revision by the Council; and
- Review audit reports from the internal auditor and make recommendations to the Council concerning actions or resolutions.
- Provide guidance and oversight to the process to solicit offers for internal audit services when determined to be appropriate, and recommend the final selection of an internal auditor to the Council.
- Ensure the External Quality Assurance Review of the TCDD internal audit function is conducted according to the Texas Internal Audit Act and the report is reviewed by the Audit Committee.
- The Audit Committee shall be comprised of no more than five (5) members including the Chair.
- The Council Vice-Chair shall serve as Chair of the Committee;
- The Council Chair shall appoint other members of the Committee subject to approval by the Council;
- The Council Chair shall be a non-voting ex-officio member of the committee.
- The Audit Committee shall meet at least two (2) times yearly.
XII. Amendment of Policies
Council policies may be adopted or revised by a two/thirds (2/3) majority of the members present at a regular or called Council meeting providing a quorum is present at that time.
Written Notice of the proposed amendment(s) must be provided to Council members at least 10 days prior to any such action in either written (ie., hard copy, mailed) or electronic (e-mail) form in accordance with each Council member’s preference.
Amendments may be proposed by a recommendation of the Executive Committee or by written request of any five (5) members of the Council.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities believes that all students regardless of individual needs must be provided with individualized appropriate instruction, research-based positive behavioral supports, access to the general curriculum, and related services in the least restrictive environment. Related services include but are not limited to adaptive aids, assistive technology, modifications, therapies and supplementary aides. The delivery of individually appropriate instruction and related services must be provided by qualified teachers and service providers with administrative support and opportunities for continued/ongoing professional development in all areas of identified need. It is the position of the Council, as well as the policy of the state, that all children should be treated with dignity and respect when addressing their behavioral and disciplinary needs.
The Council believes charter schools or schools accepting voucher payments must provide students the same educational rights and opportunities that they would be accorded in the public education system. The Council believes that schools that accept state money to educate students must accept any student with a developmental disability who may apply for admission to that school, abide by federal and state education laws that protect the rights of students with disabilities, abide by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act that requires any entity receiving federal funds to include people with disabilities in its program, and accept any student at the state rate of payment asking for no additional tuition or fees beyond the normal fees required by the student’s independent school district. If these criteria are not met, then the Council adamantly opposes publicly funded school vouchers and charter schools. The Council is opposed to any initiative that would deplete funds from the public education system and ultimately from funds available for the education of students with disabilities.
The Council believes that full inclusion should be approached as a value and underlying philosophy by which we educate all students. We believe that successful inclusion requires that teacher education programs prepare all educators and administrators to work with the full range of students in inclusive settings. Special education is not a separate educational system, but rather a service provided to people with specific needs within the general educational system. Professional preparation programs should emphasize the shared responsibility of all educators and administrators for every student.
The Council believes that full inclusion requires the ongoing, shared responsibility of students, parents, guardians, educators, administrators and the community at large.
It is therefore the position of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities that all students have a right to learn, play and work with students their own age, with and without disabilities, in the same schools, classrooms and other educational programs attended by their brothers, sisters and neighbors, and that schools, classrooms and programs must be both physically and programmatically accessible to all students.
Reviewed February 12, 2010
People with developmental disabilities may have functional support needs in one or more spheres of mental functioning that involve perceptual, memory, and judgment modalities. Their ability to process and retain information and to relate cause and effect may be may be affected. Accommodating individuals with cognitive and mental health disabilities in the criminal justice system thus presents various hurdles.3 A particular problem is invalid and inconsistent assessments for:
1) competency to stand trial; and
2) criminal responsibility due to mental disease or defect (the insanity defense) as current assessment procedures do not fully address the needs of people with disabilities.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities believes that the following fundamental principles apply to people with disabilities who undergo competency evaluations.
- People with cognitive and mental health disabilities 4 have the right to equal protection and due process under the law.
- People with disabilities are entitled to certain protections, rights and benefits under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and these protections, rights and benefits extend to involvement in the criminal justice system.
- A diagnosis of mental retardation or mental illness does not necessarily mean that a person is incompetent to stand trial, but it is incumbent upon counsel and the court to raise competency as an issue in appropriate cases and at any point in the proceedings where the defendant’s competency is in question.
The Council believes that criminal assessment procedures must fully address the needs of people with disabilities and include the following components:
- Early intervention that includes a valid and clinically appropriate disability screening prior to, during, and following arrest, and comprehensive officer training in booking and intake procedures of individuals with developmental disabilities.
- Ongoing training of criminal justice professionals that is based on research and best practices in assessment of individuals with disabilities. Curriculum should include training on recognizing the possible existence of a developmental or psychiatric disability, appropriate communication skills, and stereotypes and stigma about disabilities unrelated to criminal activity.
- A competency evaluation that is performed by skilled professionals who have specialized training and experience in forensic evaluation. This specialized training should include training in legal competency for adults and fitness to proceed for juveniles.
- Due process protections that include reliable, age-specific and culturally competent assessments of and standards for:
- Determining the existence of cognitive and mental health disabilities — example formats include the uniform mental health assessment and the diagnostic eligibility for mental retardation and related conditions formats; and
- Determining legal competency for adults and fitness to proceed for juveniles — example instruments include the CAST-MR (Competency Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with MR) and the MacCAT-CA (MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool – Criminal Adjudication).
- These assessments should take into account any relevant impact on the results because of the individual’s cultural background, primary language, communication style, physical or sensory impairments, motivation, attentiveness, or emotional factors.
- Reasonable accommodations must be provided at all stages of criminal proceedings to assist the individual in understanding and participating in the proceedings and their defense.
The Council recognizes that early intervention, assessment due process protections, and reasonable accommodations are overlapping components of a system that is responsive to the needs to people with disabilities and that these components must be available to alleged offenders at all stages of the individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system.
Reviewed February 12, 2010
**While the preferred terminology for “mental retardation” has changed to “intellectual and developmental disabilities,” mental retardation is still used in this position statement because of legal implications based on a specific diagnosis of “mental retardation.”
Families of children with disabilities often need supports and services to sustain family life and keep their child at home and included in the community. Family support services are intended to strengthen the family’s role as primary caregiver, prevent expensive out-of-home placement of individuals with disabilities, maintain family unity, and foster self-determination.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities believes that:
- All children can and should live in a family. All children need a family to best grow, develop and thrive. All children deserve the love, nurturing and permanency that are unique to family life.
- Families come from many cultures and are multidimensional. No matter its composition or cultural background, a family offers a child a home and a lifelong commitment to love, belonging and permanency. Parents with disabilities are capable of and do provide loving families and homes to children.
- Families, including parents with disabilities, should have available the level of supports and services needed to keep children with disabilities in their own homes. Family support services should include, but are not limited to, respite care, provision of rehabilitation and assistive technologies, personal assistant services, parent training and counseling, vehicular and home modifications, and assistance with extraordinary expenses associated with disabilities. In addition, since the vast majority (over 85%) of individuals with disabilities reside with families in their own households, families of children with disabilities need access to appropriate child care and to before- and after-school programs. Child care for children with disabilities should be affordable, safe, appropriate and in the most integrated setting.
- Providers of family support services must have education and training that will prepare them to work with people with disabilities in inclusive settings to achieve this goal.
- To be effective and beneficial, supports and services must be easy to access, family-driven, individualized, flexible to changing needs and circumstances, culturally sensitive and based on functional needs rather than categorical labels.
- When children cannot remain in their own families, for whatever reason, they still deserve to live and grow up in a family. The first priority should be to reunite the family through the infusion of services and supports. When that is not possible and the family can remain actively involved in the child’s life, the natural family should be a key participant in selecting an alternate family situation for their child, including foster families, co-parenting and adoption.
- When families are not actively involved in their child’s life, permanency planning must occur to allow the child to live in a family.
- School districts are an integral source of information and training for parents. Coordination among school districts and outside agencies is critical to provide parents with accurate, timely information regarding services and eligibility requirements.
- The state Child Protective Services system is essential to guarantee that all children are safe from abuse and neglect. Support of the families of children with disabilities from this system is critical to make sure children remain in a safe, family environment and are not unnecessarily removed from families due to the absence of necessary services and supports.
The Council also believes that when children with disabilities grow up in families, the community at large accepts the value of providing supports to children and families at home so that children become and remain participants and contributors to their communities.
The Council believes that the state of Texas should adopt a public policy statement recognizing the value of families in children’s lives and develop programs, policies and funding mechanisms that allow all children to live and grow up in a family.
Reviewed February 12, 2010
Services to families with a family member with disabilities have a dual focus. Those services support the health and integrity of family units, and they maximize the strengths and potential of individuals with disabilities to independently participate in and be included in their communities. During childhood, family support services are intended to strengthen the family’s role as primary caregiver and prevent institutional placement of individuals with disabilities. Throughout an individual’s life span, family support services are intended to strengthen and maintain family connections while fostering self-determination, independence, and participation in school, job, recreational and community settings. Adequate support services must be available to people with disabilities so that they can remain in the community rather than face inappropriate institutional placements.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities supports the provision of a full array of flexible family support services that include but are not limited to:
- adaptive equipment and specialized clothing;
- assistive technology devices and services;
- counseling services;
- financial assistance with the extra expenses of providing support;
- home modifications;
- leisure-time planning; person-centered comprehensive planning for transition from early childhood to school, from school to adult life, and from adult life to retirement;
- personal assistance services/direct care services;
- respite care that is affordable, safe, age-appropriate and in the most integrated setting;
- service coordination including information and referral services;
- training to empower people with disabilities and their families to advocate for lifestyles they choose;
- transportation; and
- vehicular modifications.
Providers of family support services must have education and training that will prepare them to work with families and people with disabilities of all ages in inclusive settings to maximize each individual’s potential and inclusion with their peer groups.
To be effective and beneficial, family supports and services must be affordable, easy to access, designed by the individual and their family, individualized based on functional needs, flexible to changing needs and circumstances, and culturally sensitive.
Reviewed February 12, 2010
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ms. Gregowicz was a non-voting member at this meeting. ↩
- Up to 24 percent of this country’s adult prison populations are individuals with mental retardation. (Dagher-Margosian, J., Representing the Cognitively Disabled Client in a Criminal Case, Disabilities Project Newsletter, State Bar of Michigan, Volume 2, Issue 2, March 2006, Committee on Justice Initiatives and Equal Access Initiative Disabilities Project, Retrieved 9-24-09.) ↩
- It is estimated that between 50-75 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have diagnosable mental health disorders. (Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. “Mental Health and Juvenile Justice in Texas.” 2003.) ↩
- 20-35% of all persons with intellectual disabilities have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder. (Effective Interagency Collaboration for People with Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Developmental Disabilities (PDF), Kathryn duPree, Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Mental Retardation Retrieved September 24, 2009.) ↩