June 2006 Update

Steps to Support for All seeks to serve all individuals who receive services through the Department of Aging and Disability Services in Texas.

Steps to Support for All is an association with an educational mission.  Its members include leaders in our communities, former legislators, professionals who serve Texans who are aging or disabled, family members of, and individuals with, disabilities. The primary focus of Steps to Support for All is to encourage better funding and promote a broader, more effective, array of services for those who have disabilities or are seniors. 

Through the sharing of accurate information, Steps to Support for All has earned the respect of many around our state.  It has become a unifying association.  Steps began as a means of providing factual, unbiased information.  New members joined the mission so that they might help pull resources and programs together for the common good rather than striving to "win" money for one program at the expense of another (i.e. state schools programs over community-based services). Through Steps to Support for All, members with children in state schools work alongside members with children in community living arrangements. The strength of our association lies in the experience and honesty of its members.  Each member's sincere desire to best serve ALL those in need is our unifying factor.

Our association is still relatively new. It began in the fall of 2004 and the scope of its mission and its membership have blossomed. It is difficult to gage the actual membership of the association since our primary method of joining together is via Internet exchanges.  Each post sent to 100 members is generally sent on to many, many others. In the spring of 2005 we were asked to become stakeholders for Texas Health and Human Services Commission, so I gather our voices were definitely heard and respected during the general legislative session of 2005. 

Due to the extensive Steps network, valuable links are forming and new projects begun. Through Step contacts, the Come Read with Me project for life-long learning has joined forces with Texas Women's University, Eastern New Mexico University, and Texas Tech University School of Education and School of Medicine. This joint effort is working to gather regular, long term, never-before-collected cognitive functioning data on adults with disabilities. This data is critical to the planning of proper long-term care for aging adults with cognitive disabilities. 

Steps to Support for All does not always call members to action, but often uses the individual members or their local groups as a resource for gathering information and support.  Steps members came together following hurricane Katrina to alert one another of possible resources and specialized help around our state. Because of the expertise of various Step members and the organizations to which they belong, crises information was developed, posted on the Steps website, and sent to hospitals and crisis centers, (Crisis referral page, Strategies for helping children with autism cope with upheaval).  In addition, the location of special housing for the special needs families was made available.  Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth specifically requested the assistance of Steps members throughout the state. Thanks to the initiative of individual support groups such as the Autism Society of Greater Tarrant County emergency information was delivered, while DIAL (Developing Independent Adult Living) and other Step associates formed buddy systems to lend an ear and a hand to special needs families as they faced the chaos in their lives. Step members alerted other Step members of needs and resources.  They made a powerful alliance in the face of crises.


Where are we now and where are we going?

Current Steps to Support for All:

  • Gather and share accurate information about services and funding available in our state and others.
  • Establish and maintain positive working relationships with organization leaders and families within the state of Texas.
  • Establish and maintain positive working relationships with legislators and their staffs.
  • Dream.  This fall, Steps to Support for All will have a mini-conference to do some creative brainstorming.  We will share ideas for possible new models of service which would provide more effective care for DADS consumers.  We will also use the valuable time to share successes and needs of our local non-profit initiatives.  These collective thoughts will be sent on to the larger membership where they will, no doubt, gather more innovative and effective ideas for improved services.  The historic legislative approach of simply moving funds from one pocket to another will not cease until we present a united message with a specific vision.  Because of the knowledge and experience of Step members, we hope to help develop that vision, one that is more complete and comprehensive than current models.
  • Impress upon service providers, organizations and our legislators the vital need for further research of cognitive function of aging persons with disabilities.  How can we plan for their care without some general knowledge of their expected needs?  We're entering uncharted grounds.  In past generations, those with significant disabilities did not often live to be aging adults.  We need to be gathering information now to provide guidelines for the planning of services for future generations.
  • Encourage life-long learning efforts for adults with disabilities.  We are, after all, a mission of education. The incidence of early Alzheimer Disorder is proven to be seen more in the population of those with Down Syndrome than in the general population.  There is speculation that perhaps other disorders may also exhibit this increased risk.  If proven to be true, through the collection of cognitive data on adults with disability, it will demonstrate the overwhelming need to provide educational programs which promote cognitive function for adults throughout their life-time.
  • Work together in times of need. 
  • Develop and promote partnerships between organizations (such as those of the Come Read with Me project and universities) which encourage new programs to better serve individuals receiving support from DADS.

Step members are already working individually to support those in need; the association of Steps to Support for All enables members to share their wealth of expertise and their compassion for All for the betterment of the whole.

Martha Kate Downey
505 Anthony Drive
Euless, TX 76039


Learn about the association Steps to Support for Allhttp://www.mkdowney.com/ef.html. We are working together to improve services for those who are aging or have disabilities. Please join us!