Services For Disabled People In Texas
Some important changes are taking place regarding services for disabled people in Texas. As of September 1st, 2016, the Texas Department of Rehabilitative Services has begun a massive overhaul. The programs offered have now been split between the Texas Workforce Commission and the Health & Human Services Commission.
It is important that disabled citizens in Texas understand these changes and know where to turn for help. Seventeen essential services are now under new direction and they may not be where users expect.
Finding Services For Disabled Texas Residents
The first thing that Texas citizens need to remember is that there have been no cuts or eliminations as part of this overhaul. The services have only moved to the control of another commission.
It is hoped that this move will not have a noticeable impact on the lives of patients and services will continue as normal. However, users that are looking to find information on a service will need to turn to either the TWC or HHSC.
In a recent statement, the HHSC executive commissioner said the following: “Most people won’t notice a change, other than, probably, it’s easier for them to find what they need”.
The Texas Workforce Commission
The TWC is now responsible for the vast selection of services that once fell under the guidance of the DARS. Many changes are pretty understandable as they relate to vocational services and rehabilitation. These vocational services include:
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services
- Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center
- Business Services – Vocational Rehabilitation
- Providers’ Resources – Vocational Rehabilitation
- Business Enterprises of Texas
- Rehabilitation Council of Texas
These vocational rehabilitation programs provide a range of support services for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. There are separate options for adult users and “youth and student users”.
The Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center is a specialist option for the blind that offers guidance on employment and education options. The Rehabilitation Council of Texas is a federally mandated program that works to improve these services based on user feedback.
Business Enterprises of Texas is even more specialized. Here visually impaired and blind users are given help to manage cafeteria and vending services.
Other switches are a little more surprising. Blind residents that are in need of help may assume that they require the Heath & Human Services Commission. Instead, services for the blind have been split between the two.
The TWC provides Blind and Visually impaired services and Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind. The HHSC deals with the Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery & Development Program and the Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment Program.
Service Animal Information has also transferred to the TWC. The TWC website now contains a detailed guide on the right and requirements regarding service animals in Texas. This makes sense for blind people in need of a seeing-eye dog.
The problem is that Independent Living Services and Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services are over at the HHSC. This means that disabled people in need of pets for other disabilities may have to deal with two commissions instead of one. Luckily, there seems to be no change in policy or approach.
Health & Human Services Commission
The list of services that have moved to the HHSC highlights the confusing divide further. The DARS saw the need to create a separate Independent Living Services program for older blind people. This is great for those that require specialist care that the broader Independent Living Services cannot provide.
The service is open to any blind resident 55 or older that requires help to live an independent life at home. The trouble lies in the fact that this specialized service is under a different commission entirely. It is also unclear why the HHSC has the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services when all other rehabilitation programs fall under the TWC.
Other DARS Services ( Now Part Of The HHSC)
- Autism Program
- Disability Determination
- Early Childhood Intervention Program
Disability Determination is where disabled people need to turn when dealing with their benefits. It is this service that makes the decision for the Social Security Administration to act upon. The Early Childhood Intervention Program relates to any child under the age of three with disabilities and developmental issues.
The program provides free support and assessments to make life at home more comfortable. Finally, the Autism Program provides a series of comprehensive and focused services for children on the spectrum. The problem with this program is that it is continually under review, and eligibility rules keep changing.
Other Things You Need To Know
These changes are part of a larger overhaul of the health care system. The plan is to streamline from five agencies to three to make things easier. Further changes are due to take place in 2017.
The HHSC executive commissioner also stated that “It’s a work in progress, and we’re putting the system unitedly in a way that puts Texans first.” Hopefully, this proves to be the case.
For now, the only big chances are the division of services and the new HHSC website. This website will provide information based on subgroups for ease of access. Disabilities will have its section away from other health services.
Users simply need to click on the services section of the menu and scroll down until they reach their required program. There are sure to be kinks to iron out, such as the line “Texas has more than 00 people who have a disability”, but it is a start.
It is important that everyone in need of services for disables in Texas is aware of this change. The good report is that there are still plenty of services available to those in need, and the information is not too hard to find.
Users can still access the DARS site for the time being, but all information has transfer to the appropriate sites. Here users can also find links to the new service pages, contact information, and an office locator. It should be business as usual for disability services in the state, but users should also prepare for teething problems.