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Minutes – Executive Committee Meeting, May 5, 2011

(As approved by the Committee, August 2011)

Attendance

Committee Members Present

  • Brenda Coleman-Beattie, Council Chair
  • Mary Durheim
  • Richard Tisch
  • Susan Vardell

Council Members Present

  • John Morris

Staff Members Present

Call to Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on May 4, 2011, in the Goldenrod Room at the Hilton Austin Airport, 9515 Hotel Drive, Austin, TX 78719. Council Chair Brenda Coleman-Beattie called the meeting to order at 3:30 PM.

Introductions

Committee members and staff were introduced.

Public Comments

Chair Coleman-Beattie indicated that comments concerning an appeal of a funding decision could be offered when that item was discussed by the Committee. No other public comments were offered.

Chair’s Report

Coleman-Beattie reviewed the excused absences for these meetings which include Mike Benz and Amy Sharp (Center for Disability and Development, Tx A&M), Kris Bissmeyer (Friday), Cindy Johnston, Diana Kern, Dana Perry, Deneesa Rasmussen, and Sara Kendall (DARS) may be late both days.

Coleman-Beattie indicated that TCDD received a card of appreciation from the family of late Council member Rene Requenez expressing their gratitude for the dedication of the 2010 Biennial Report to Rene. She also noted that Web Administrator Rosalinda Lopez will retire on June 30, 2011, after more than 25 years of service to TCDD. A plaque will be presented to Ms. Lopez during the Committee of the Whole meeting for her service to TCDD and the state.

A Council member vacancy still exists for Rene’s former position on the Council and Mary Durheim is not eligible for another term. Terms also end in 2011 for Marcia Dwyer, Joe Rivas and Kris Bissmeyer. Bissmeyer and Rivas are seeking re-appointment, but Dwyer is not due to time commitments. Coleman-Beattie noted that the Governor’s appointments office prioritizes appointments that need Senate approval during the legislative session but expects TCDD appointments to be explored following the session. She asked members to forward recommendations to her or Executive Director Roger Webb to share with the Governor’s office. Webb discussed the geographic locations of Texas that are under-represented on the Council.

Coleman-Beattie informed members of her recent appointment to Austin-Travis County Integral Care (ATCIC) Board. The Central Texas Health Care District, a primary funding entity of ATCIC, now appoints three members to the ATCIC Board. Coleman-Beattie was recently named to one of those three seats and chairs the Planning and Operations Committee. She also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Advisory Board for the University of Texas School of Social Work. Conflict of Interest information will be updated to reflect this involvement.

Approval of Minutes

The Committee reviewed the minutes from the November 1, 2010, Committee meeting. No revisions were offered

MOTION: To approve the minutes of the November 1, 2010, Executive Committee meeting as presented.

MADE BY: Rick Tisch

SECOND: Mary Durheim

The motion passed unanimously.

Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Webb introduced Laura Poskochil who is an intern with TCDD from the UT School of Social Work. Poskochil has been working with Joanna Cordry on State Plan activities and other projects. She began with TCDD in January and will finish her internship for her Master’s Degree in mid-May. Cordry added that Poskochil has been a valuable asset and noted a report that she developed on outcomes of TCDD Outreach and Development Projects.

Webb indicated that Public Policy Director Angela Lello has applied for and been selected to interview for a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation Public Policy Fellowship. She hopes to be assigned to a Congressional committee.

Webb noted that although Congress finally approved appropriations for FY 2011, TCDD has not received final notice of its allotment for the year. TCDD understands that a 0.2% reduction to non-military discretionary spending will be applied to funds for DD Councils, slightly reducing allotments compared to FY 2010 levels. This would likely amount to a $10,212 reduction for TCDD. Funding levels for FY 2012 are unknown at this time. Webb also noted a document highlighting TCDD accomplishments during FY 2010.

Webb reviewed bills filed by the Texas Legislature this session that would have impact on administrative functions of TCDD. He noted that current versions of bills related to state employees and benefits do not include a cost-of-living increase but also do not mandate furloughs or make across-the-board pay cuts. Some bills would increase employee contributions for insurance benefits. Other bills would require state agencies to verify that state funding and services are not being provided to undocumented immigrants. Should those measures pass, staff will explore how this applies to TCDD grant projects.

Webb provided an overview of the ADD Envisioning forum hosted in Dallas in November. Council Members Dana Perry and Joe Rivas provided input at that forum. Webb also shared that ADD has awarded funds for a “project of national significance” to the Arc of the US for an Autism Resource Center that calls for four Autism conferences including one planned for Austin, August 13-14, 2011, with local coordination from the Arc of Texas. Arc of Texas has indicated that funds available for the event may not cover all conference activities and has asked if TCDD could assist with some conference activities. Coleman-Beattie requested a letter from ADD related to any funding support and suggested that TCDD would not want to establish a precedent for extenuating circumstances. Members agreed that any funding offered, such as travel stipends, should be managed in accordance with current TCDD policies and procedures.

Operations Director Martha Cantu discussed plans for website and database support when Rosalinda Lopez retires mid-summer. Due to a hiring freeze for TEA, TCDD is not planning to rehire this position at the current time. Responsibilities related to budget and fiscal matters have been transferred to Systems Support Specialist Barbara Booker. Various administrative activities will be transferred to Executive Assistant Koren Vogel and human resources functions are transferred to Cantu. Training for other staff members for website administration and maintenance is planned since other staff do not have necessary training and experience at this time. TCDD is exploring options to contract with a state approved vendor or a temporary employment agency to provide these services on an interim basis. Cantu hopes to have someone available by June 1 to cross-train with Lopez.

Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry reviewed with members a Review Panel Member Position Description that was developed from other materials at the Committee’s request. Cordry indicated that each panel includes at least one member with a disability, or a family member. Cordry reviewed the current reimbursement rate for reviewers and agreed to compare those rates with those of other agencies. Review panel members are reimbursed for travel expenses, for their time in half or full day meetings plus an amount for each proposal reviewed.

Webb reviewed material developed by the Maryland DD Council that shares the stories of a few individuals who have transitioned from a state institution now closed to community settings. The video makes a powerful statement about the importance of living in the community.

Members discussed suggestions that TCDD consider co-sponsoring the Southwest Conference on Disability hosted each October in Albuquerque, NM. The Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, the Center for Disability Studies at UT-Austin, and the Center for Disability and Development at TX A&M all co-sponsored the event last year. Committee members discussed ideas for participating and agreed to send members this year to explore the conference and consider funding additional stipends for self-advocates from Texas interested in attending. Coleman-Beattie asked Cantu to explore possible restrictions on out-of-state travel.

Webb noted that the $4.8 million available to TCDD for FY 2008, all except $48 was fully liquidated by the end of the third year those funds are available.

Appeal of Funding Decisions

TCDD received formal appeals from two organizations concerning decisions to not approve funding for their proposals. Appeals were received from Alternatives to Guardianship, Inc., for a decision to not approve funding for a Volunteer Supported Decision-Making Advocate Pilot project, and from Best Buddies Texas for a decision to not approve funding for a Healthy Relationships project. Webb noted that Executive Committee members previously received this information by e-mail at the time the appeals were submitted consistent with TCDD Policies. TCDD staff reviewed the RFP application and review process for these proposals and did not find any irregularities or concerns with how the process was conducted. Staff therefore found no reason to recommend reconsideration of the prior decisions to not approve funding for these proposals.

The Committee reviewed information concerning the appeal by Alternatives to Guardianships, Inc., that submitted a proposal for the Volunteer Supported Decision-Making Advocates Pilot Project. Review panel recommendations were considered by the Committee at the November 2010 meeting. The review panel recommendation for this proposal was: Fundable, if concerns are addressed to the satisfaction of DADS and the Texas DD Council. The Executive Committee determined in November to not approve further negotiations with this applicant based on the concerns noted. Alternatives to Guardianship, Inc., appealed the decision to not approve funding and provided additional information addressing the concerns noted by the review panel. The appeal did not suggest that information in the original application was missed or not understood by the review panel, and did not suggest any irregularities or concerns in the review process. Alternatives to Guardianship, Inc., Chairman Bruce Bower provided comments on their proposal and noted that there were improvements that could have been made on the application. Bower explained the purpose of the program and asked the Committee to reconsider its previous decision and approve funding for their proposal. Committee members determined to not take any further action concerning this proposal.

The Committee reviewed information submitted by Best Buddies Texas in an appeal of the previous decision to not approve funding for their proposal for a Healthy Relationships project. Material submitted by Best Buddies also responded to concerns noted by the review panel, but did not suggest that the review panel misunderstood information in their original proposal and did not suggest any irregularities in the review process. The Committee determined to take no further action concerning this proposal. Staff will communicate to each organization that the Council’s prior actions are final.

Committee members engaged in a discussion on the current process for appeals. It was noted that reversing a decision based on further information from an applicant would modify the review process by creating a two-step review. Members agreed to not propose revising the current review process in that manner. Members also discussed a prior situation in which an existing grantee was advised of possible termination of funding. Members agreed that the circumstances in that situation were much different and that TCDD Policies were followed in both instances.

Grants Activities Reports

Webb reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report and the Grants Monitoring Exceptions Report and indicated that no concerns were noted by staff.

Stipends grants were approved during the past 6 months for the following applicants:

  • Coalition of Texans with Disabilities: 33rd Annual Conference for $3,000 on April 3 – 5, 2011, in Austin.
  • Southwest Chapter Autism Society of America: Families of Children with Autism: Caring for Everyone’s Needs for $1,200 on April 2, 2011, in El Paso.
  • Texas A&M University: Texas Transition Conference for $6,000 on February 7 – 9, 2011, in Austin.
  • Texas State Independent Living Council: Annual Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference for $6,000 on April 3 – 5, 2011, in Austin.
  • Attention Deficit Disorders Assoc. — Southern Region (ADDA-SR): 23rd Annual ADDA-SR Conference for $6,000 on February 18 — 19, 2011, in Irving.
  • Brain Injury Association of Texas: 27th Annual Statewide Conference for $4,950 on April 14 – 17, 2011 in Austin.
  • Texas Parent to Parent: 7th Annual Parent to Parent Conference for $6,000 on June 24 – 25, 2011 in San Marcos.

Continuation Grant Awards

Grants Specialists Sonya Hosey, Cynthia Ellison and Wendy Jones reviewed the executive summaries for seven projects that are eligible for continuation funding:

  • Community Healthcore — Customized Self-Employment Project; $112,704; year 4 of 5.
  • Region 17 Education Service Center — Positive Behavior Supports Impacting Disproportionality; $115,000; year 4 of 5.
  • Region 17 — Positive Behavior Supports HeadStart; $120,000; year 4 of 5.
  • Family to Family Network — Basic Local Advocacy Training Project; $75,000; year 3 of 3.
  • Texas A&M University — Texas Advanced Leadership and Advocacy Conference; $150,000; year 4 of 5.
  • Texas Tech University — Teacher’s Preparation for Inclusive Education; $199,999; year 5 of 5.
  • VSA Arts of Texas — Art Works Creative Industries; $125,000; year 5 of 5.

Committee members did not have concerns about any of these projects. In response to a question, staff indicated that Family to Family Network would be willing to continue providing advocacy skills training in Spanish if additional TCDD funding was available. Members also discussed their desire for advanced leadership training that results in individuals continuing to be engaged in public policy and advocacy efforts after that training. In response to discussion about the Teacher’s Preparation for Inclusive Education Project, staff indicated that the grantee would be interested in conducting research about how participants are putting the training to use.

MOTION: To approve continuation grant funding for the projects listed above and for the amounts noted above, and to consider additional funding for further advanced leadership and advocacy training.

MADE BY: Mary Durheim

SECOND: Susan Vardell

The motion passed unanimously.

Review Panel Recommendations for Outreach and Development Projects

Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry provided a brief update on current Outreach and Development Projects. The Friends and Families of Asians with Special Needs project (FFASN) in Houston recently held its first conference for 66 families using part of the TCDD grant and funds from other private organizations. Cordry reminded members that she coordinates the review panel process for these projects with staff members Patrice LeBlanc and Angela Lello serving as reviewers to offer comments about whether applications meet the intent of the RFP, and to suggest possible public policy implications of proposed activities.

Cordry reviewed applications received from five organizations.

Light and Salt Association

Light and Salt Association, which is a “splinter” group from FFASN, plans to provide advocacy training for families, which is similar to the activities being conducted by FFASN. Although both serve Asians living in the Houston area, Light and Salt Association is a Christian faith-based group and FFASN is a secular group that has a strong connection with the Tzu Chi Buddhist Compassion Foundation. Cordry noted that the Asian community in the Houston area is large enough to be served by both organizations.

MOTION: To approve funding of up to $10,000 to the Light and Salt Association.

MADE BY: Mary Durheim

SECOND: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

The motion passed unanimously.

Pathways Educational Resources

A proposal from Pathways Educational Resources requested funds to provide training for families related to education. This application is from one individual who wishes to form a parent support group. Members discussed questions raised by the review panel including comments that budget items are not clear or justified, and that the proposal does not meet the intent of the RFP. The Committee did not take action on this proposal.

Barbara Jordan Endeavors Corporation

The Committee reviewed an application from the Barbara Jordan Endeavors Corporation that proposes to provide ancillary services to students with disabilities in the form of educational workshops to connect students with available resources.

MOTION: To approve funding of up to $9,990 to the Barbara Jordan Endeavors Association.

MADE BY: Susan Vardell

SECOND: Mary Durheim

The motion passed unanimously.

MetroHaven of Love, Inc.

The Committee reviewed an application from MetroHaven of Love, Inc., in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This organization is a “half-way” house that provides rehabilitation and recovery from substance abuse. Participants may have developmental disabilities, but the project likely serves many individuals with other disabilities. The proposed Developmental Disabilities Leadership Training would serve individuals with dual diagnosis of substance abuse and co-occurring mental health or behavioral disorders as well as individuals who are homeless. Members discussed if this was consistent with the intent of the RFP.

MOTION: To approve funding of up to $10,000 to MetroHaven of Love, Inc.

MADE BY: Rick Tisch

The motion failed for lack of a second.

S.E.M. Health and Wellness

An application from S.E.M. Health and Wellness, Inc proposed a project to provide training for vocational rehabilitation staff to better support people from different cultures. The Committee did not take action on this proposal.

Outreach and Development Grant Process

Cordry noted that TCDD staff have learned a great deal from the Outreach and Development Grant process including the needs of the applicants’ communities. Grants Management Specialist Sonya Hosey indicated that these projects take more time and effort than expected but agreed that good lessons have been learned. Staff made available a report prepared by Laura Poskochil summarizing the progress thus far and the barriers staff worked to overcome to develop positive relationships with the organizations funded. It is expected that some grant recipients will make presentations to the Council.

Proposed Amendments to Council Policies and Internal Auditing Procedure

Webb reviewed proposed amendments to Council Policies that reflect discussion during the November 2010 Committee meeting and a draft Internal Auditing Procedure. Proposed amendments to Policies would allow the Council Chair to approve one-time requests to increase grant funds above the amount previously approved by the Committee or Council; and would designate staff as the review panel for grant applications for projects which are less than $15,000. The draft Internal Auditor Procedure limits contracts for internal auditing services to no more than ten years. The Committee approved by consensus to move these revisions to the Council for approval.

TCDD Quarterly Financial Report

Webb provided information regarding the TCDD budget and noted that there will be a surplus of FY 10 funds available for future projects. TCDD staff determine each year whether to use current year funds or prior year funds for each grant project based on various factors. (The DD Act allows Councils two full years to obligate funds and a third year for funds to be fully expended.) TCDD has fewer projects eligible for continued funding than in past years which results in a much larger balance of funds to obligate during the second year. Staff are coordinating with TEA to use remaining federal FY 2010 funds for FY 11 operating expenses. This will increase the balance of federal FY 2011 funds remaining for future projects. The Council has approved projects that are in various stages of the RFP process that will use a portion of those funds but funds will still be available for additional projects that further State Plan Goals. Project Development Committee Chair Susan Vardell noted that there are plenty of ideas for projects but acknowledged that it takes time to get through the process before funds are obligated. Coleman-Beattie suggested that the Committee might want to consider unsolicited proposals.

Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed the Quarterly Financial Report and noted the reports have been revised to provide a better picture of TCDD funds. No concerns were noted.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Committee members reviewed Conflict of Interest disclosure statements from members and staff with no noted concerns. Updates will be made regarding the information provided by Coleman-Beattie earlier in the meeting.

Executive Session Regarding Personnel Matters

Chair Coleman-Beattie announced that the Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities would meet in closed section pursuant to Section 551.74 of Government Code related to personnel matters. A quorum of the Committee is present. The time was 7:20 PM on May 4th, 2011.

At 7:35 PM on May 4th, 2011, the Executive Committee reconvened in open session. Chair Coleman-Beattie announced that the Committee did not take any action during its closed meeting discussion on personnel matters.

Adjourn

Chair Coleman-Beattie adjourned the Council meeting at 7:40 PM.

Roger A. Webb
Secretary to the Council
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