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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals

By: Tammy Martin, Program Manager, Blind Children’s Program

Abstract: In this article, Mrs. Martin provides information on the Blind Children’s Program transition from DARS to HHSC

Keywords: blind, visually impaired, Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), Health and Human Service Commission (HHSC)

By now you are probably aware that the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) no longer exists. You may be wondering why the change occurred and what does that means for the services your child/family receives. Will the program continue to provide services and how will you find/contact your Blind Children’s Specialist?

 

Why the change?

The 84th Texas Legislative session’s goal was to make the system more efficient and easier to navigate for the people who rely on state services and, Senate Bill 200 was approved to re-align the five agencies that make up the health and human services enterprise. This brought changes to the programs that made up the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. In order to serve Texans more efficiently and effectively, the DARS programs were transferred to either the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) or to Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). The Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program was transferred to HHSC.

The Programs that are now a part of TWC are:

  • all Vocational Rehabilitation programs, including Transition, divisions (there are two, one for the blind and one general) and services (including the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center - CCRC)
  • the Business Enterprises of Texas (BET) program
  • Independent Living services (IL)-Older Blind

The Programs that moved to HHSC are:

  • the Blind Children’s Program (BCP)
  • Blindness, Education, Screening and Treatment (BEST)
  • Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)
  • IL- Part B
  • Autism
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
  • Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services
  • Disability Determination Services

 

How does this change effect the services my child receives from the Blind Children’s Program?

The services provided by the Blind Children’s Program have not changed.

While the Blind Children’s Program now lives in the newly created department within the HHSC Medical and Social Services Division, the fundamental values and goals of the Blind Children’s program remains the same. We are committed to providing quality services to assist your child in reaching their fullest potential and becoming a successfully employed adult. We will continue to assess the barriers that prevent your child from having a level playing field and work with you to plan, develop and deliver services that will provide the tools and training they need to overcome obstacles.

How do I find my Blind Children’s Specialist?

Most of the Blind Children’s Specialists have moved to a HHSC office/ location. They have new addresses, emails and phone numbers. Hopefully you have received their new contact information. If not, here are some ways to contact them.

As we embark on these changes and learn our way around the HHSC system our number one priority remains meeting the needs of our consumers and their families. Your feedback, ideas and concerns are always welcome. Please let us know how we are doing.