Efforts to Improve State Schools Focus of Senate Hearing

(AUSTIN) — Improving state schools and increasing community care options for persons with intellectual disabilities were the main focus of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee at the State Capitol Wednesday (Sept. 17). Witnesses addressed the committee’s interim charges from Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, relating to monitoring the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services’ improvement plan for the system of care for persons with intellectual disabilities.

Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, the senior member of the committee, raised questions about funding priorities and strategies for eliminating waiting lists for health and human services. Witnesses included representatives of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, State Auditor’s Office, Texas Council of Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Centers, Private Providers Association of Texas, Arc of Texas, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities and Texans Supporting State Schools.

“The state must strengthen the system that serves persons with intellectual, physical and emotional disabilities,” Senator Zaffirini said. “The full range of services must be available, including community living options in the least restrictive settings, for persons with special needs. Promoting independence is our moral obligation.”

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