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About Texas Partners

Partners is an innovative, competency-based leadership training program for adults with disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities. The purpose of the program is two-fold: to teach best practices and the competencies needed to influence public policy.

Texas Partners in Policymaking is an innovative and intensive advanced leadership development training program. Applicants selected for the 35-member class will receive 128 hours of training during eight weekends and will learn state of the art practices from national and state experts in the disability field to enable them to become partners with policy-makers at the local, state, and federal levels. The goal? To ensure the full participation and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all areas of life.

Partners in Policymaking programs have been offered in many states, as well as internationally, since 1987, resulting in more than 27,000 graduates who are creating positive change in their communities.

Texas Partners in Policymaking Mission:

To create change so that all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

The eight training sessions are scheduled from August 2017 to April 2018.

This leadership training program is funded by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. Every state has a federally-funded, self-governing Council that is committed to advancing public policy and systems change that encourages people with disabilities and their families to gain more control over their lives. The Texas Partners program will be managed by the Texas Partners in Policymaking Coordination Team. The Texas Council is proud to support this life-changing training.

“Since my graduation, I’ve helped others learn the value of their personal stories in influencing public policy at all levels of government. Systems change IS possible and the Partners training provides an incredible foundation.”

Some of the topics include:

  • Disability History
  • Employment
  • Inclusive Education
  • Advocacy
  • Systems Change
  • Disability Policy
  • And more!

Core Values about People with Disabilities

The Texas Partners in Policymaking program is built on critical values relating to the inherent worth of people with disabilities. These values must be the underlying thread woven throughout every aspect of the training program; Partners is all about how to achieve a vision that reflects these Core Values.


People with disabilities are not “the handicapped” or “the disabled.” Using “People First Language” is a must.


People with disabilities need real friendships, not just relationships with paid staff.



The ability to communicate, in whatever form, must be available to every person with a disability.


People with disabilities must be able to enjoy full mobility and accessibility for active participation in community life.

People with disabilities must be assured continuity through families and neighborhood connections.


People with disabilities must be treated with respect and dignity.




People with disabilities must have the freedom to choose how they want to live and receive the support they need.


People with disabilities must be able to exercise choice and control in all areas of their lives.



A commitment to advancing systems change throughout the advocacy community.




People with disabilities must be able to live in homes of their choice and choose the supports they need.


People with disabilities must be able to enjoy the benefits of true productivity through employment and/or contributions as members of their communities.

People from diverse cultures and disabilities are represented in the Texas Partners training.


children and adult

These values represent the foundation of Partners in Policymaking. We know, however, that these values are still not present in the lives of too many children and adults with developmental disabilities. We also know that as a result of the best practices training of Partners, these values have become the norm for thousands of Partners graduates around the world. In turn, graduates are using their influence to help others learn “what’s possible.”

While our Core Values haven’t changed since 1987, best practices have changed and will continue to do so. This is as it should be, as we learn more, as we push the envelope, as technology changes, and as laws and policies evolve. And the speakers chosen for Partners training sessions need to represent leading-edge thinking.

Texas Partners in Policymaking is open to all Individuals who are highly motivated to create more inclusive communities and are:

  • Parents, grandparents, or primary caregivers of children under the age of 22 who have developmental disabilities,
  • Adults with developmental disabilities
  • Siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities
  • We are seeking cultural and geographic diversity within the guidelines above. The selection of participants is made by a team of parents, self-advocates, and professionals.

Texas Participation eligibility includes:

  • Texas Resident
  • Adult with a disability
  • Parent of a child with a disability

Texas Partners in Policymaking seeks a class with a:

  • Diverse cultural background
  • Diversity in race
  • Diversity in gender
  • Self-Advocates and Parents
  • Diversity in groups of developmental disabilities diagnosis
  • Representation of all regions across the State of Texas
  • Varity of advocacy experience – new to advocacy or seasoned
  • A commitment to advancing systems change throughout the advocacy community

The Participation Selection Team consist of:

  • Texas Council of Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) Staff
  • The Partners in Policymaking Staff
  • An independent Advisory Panel comprised of leaders across the State of Texas
  • The Selection Team will work to select applicants that represent the criteria above

We strive to keep our class size small (35) and must be thoughtful about the class composition in terms of region, age, diagnosis, parents, self-advocates and professionals. In the event, you are not selected for Partners this year, we encourage you to apply again, next year. Every year we have more applicants to Texas Partners than we can accept.

** Please be as detailed as possible when filling out application. If you have any questions while about in regards to applying/completing the application process please contact us at info@texaspartners.net.