The Arc of Texas Provides Testimony Supporting IDD Coordinating Council

The Arc of Texas CEO Jennifer Martinez provided testimony to the Texas House Human Services Subcommittee in support of House Bill 4571 by Rep. Toni Rose. If passed, the bill will create a new Statewide Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Coordinating Council that provides input and reports on the IDD Strategic Plan. The plan address gaps across the IDD system to support high-quality, cost-effective services to Texans with IDD, in the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual. Martinez provided in-person testimony on April 6, 2021. Listen here or read the transcript below.


My name is Jennifer Martinez, I am CEO of The Arc of Texas, and I am here in support of HB 4571. Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on HB 4571, and thank you Representative Rose for filing this important piece of legislation. The Arc of Texas promotes, protects, and advocates for the human rights and self-determination of Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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.

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.

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 4571 would 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.

We again want to thank Representative Rose for her leadership on this issue and for working with The Arc of Texas on recommendations to strengthen the bill. Our recommendations already shared with her office include:

  • Adding “the most integrated setting appropriate for the individual” to (Sec. 531.481(4)). This addition complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Olmstead decision, as well as ensuring the IDD Strategic Plan serves the most people in the setting they choose.
  • We’d also like to add several key agencies and organizations to the coordinating council to ensure representation from all entities that touch the IDD population. This includes the Center on Disability and Development at A&M, Disability Rights Texas, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
  • Creating a full picture of the system and support needs of all Texans with IDD, not just those currently receiving services. In addition to publishing an annual inventory of programs, we recommend that updates on individuals on interest lists or waitlist for needed services is also provided.

Finally, it is time Texans with IDD have a clear direction, coordination, and prioritization necessary to create long-term, systemic advancements that improve the quality of life and increase self-determination for Texans with IDD. We look forward to continuing to work with each of you, and thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.