The Arc of Texas Provides Input on Creation of IDD Coordinating Council

The Arc of Texas Director of Public Policy & Advocacy Ashley Ford provided testimony in support of House Bill 729 to the House Human Services Committee on March 14, 2023.

Dear Chairman Frank and members:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on HB729. And thank you Representative Rose for filing this important piece of legislation, again. The Arc of Texas enthusiastically supports the passage of House Bill 729 by Representative Rose

The Texas Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan has played an integral role in advancing behavioral health policies and has helped Texas achieve significant progress to develop a coordinated statewide approach to providing appropriate and cost-effective behavioral health services to Texans. HB 729 will establish an IDD Coordinating Council to implement, track, and continuously evolve a statewide IDD Strategic Plan in a similar model to the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council. The IDD Coordination Council will reduce waste and streamline.

The Arc of Texas supports a whole system approach through a statewide IDD strategic plan specific to the current needs of Texans. Now more than ever we see the need to plan and prioritize people with disabilities who want to live and work in their communities. Planning and making people with disabilities the priority requires stakeholder input and trust.

The promise of the Statewide IDD Strategic Plan has fallen flat due to many factors, including no centralized ownership or deadlines. As you all know, the wide array of services offered to Texans with IDD is complicated, disjointed, and sometimes duplicative. Texas would benefit from a purposeful review of the entire system used by Texans with IDD with a focus on providing coordinated care to ensure high-quality, cost-effective services. We need a holistic approach when serving individuals in the most integrated setting appropriate for the individual.

Even when positive policies are implemented and funds are appropriated, Texas legislators and state agencies do not have a strategic plan to track and review system improvements and cost savings within individual agencies let alone across the entire IDD system. Due to the numerous state agencies with appropriated funds to support individuals with IDD, transparent, clear data that tracks available programs and services is hard to obtain. The solution is a coordinated council of state agency decision-makers and IDD stakeholders that provide input about how the entire IDD support system can provide quality, cost-effective services to Texans with IDD.

Texas should always prioritize the value of providing travel support for those that do not have the support of a sponsoring organization or association for their travel to enable their participation as members of advisory bodies that are established by statute, approval of the agency’s governing board, or authorization of agency head.

We appreciate your consideration of this information and recommendations during the 88th Texas Legislative Session. Please do not hesitate to contact The Arc of Texas for additional information or if we can be of service. As a statewide membership organization, The Arc of Texas promotes, protects, and advocates for the human rights and self-determination of more than a half-million Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). In collaboration with 27 local chapters across the state, we work with Texans with IDD and their families to identify barriers to and solutions for quality community services and supports, access to civil rights and criminal justice, competitive integrated employment, and inclusive education. With their input in mind, The Arc of Texas respectfully submits this testimony in support of House Bill 729.