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Montana FSSAC Bylaws

Established November 1, 1991
Amended October 1999
Amended October 2001
Amended November 2002
Amended November 2005
Updated August 2013 and approved October 2013

The name of the organization shall be the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council.

The Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council is Montana’s Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) and exists by the Executive Order of the Governor of the State of Montana through the authority of Public Law 108-446, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments of 2004 and 2011.

Section 1. Purpose
The purpose of the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council is to advise and assist the lead agency to plan, develop, and implement Montana’s comprehensive, state-wide, interagency system of early intervention and family support services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Additionally, the Council may advise appropriate agencies in the state with respect to the integration of services for infants and toddlers and their families, regardless of whether the infants and toddlers are eligible for Montana’s Part C services or for other services in the State.

Section 2. Functions
Functions of the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council shall include:

  • 2.1 Advising and assisting the lead agency to develop and implement policies and procedures that constitute the statewide system;
  • 2.2 Assisting the lead agency in achieving full participation, coordination, and cooperation of all appropriate agencies in the statewide system;
  • 2.3 Assisting the lead agency in effective implementation of the statewide system by establishing a process that includes:
    • 2.3.1 Seeking information from service providers, service coordinators, parents, and others about any federal, state, or local policies that impede timely service delivery;
    • 2.3.2 Taking steps to ensure that policy problems identified in 2.3.1 above are resolved;
    • 2.3.3 To the extent appropriate, assisting the lead agency in the resolution of disputes; and
    • 2.3.4 Assuming the lead role as Montana’s Part C Self Study Team, for the purposes of 1) implementing the Part C Self Study, 2) evaluating system and service information gathered at each Self Study cycle, and 3) advising the lead agency, and other stakeholder agencies, on system strengths as well as issues of concern, and on recommended actions or needed systemic changes identified by the Self Study process.
  • 2.4 Advising and assisting the lead agency and the State Education Association, the Office of Public Instruction (OPI), regarding appropriate services for children ages 0-5, inclusive;
  • 2.5 Advising and assisting the lead agency in the:
    • 2.5.1 Identification of sources of fiscal and other support services for early intervention programs;
    • 2.5.2 Assignment of financial responsibility to the appropriate agency; and
    • 2.5.3 Promotion of interagency and intra-agency agreements, including Child Find, monitoring, financial responsibility, provision of early intervention services and transition.
  • 2.6 Advising and assisting the lead agency in the preparation of state applications under Part C, and amendments thereto;
  • 2.7 Advising and assisting the State Education Agency (OPI) regarding transition of toddlers with disabilities to services under Part B to the extent appropriate;
  • 2.8 In collaboration with lead agency staff, preparing and submitting, on the date established, an annual report to the Governor and the Secretary of Education on the status of early intervention programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families operated within the State. Each annual report will contain the information required by the Secretary for the year for which it is made;
  • 2.9 Recommending procedures for distribution of funds and priorities for program support under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as amended by PL 108-446;
  • 2.10 Assisting the lead agency in developing, implementing, and reporting information on monitoring and evaluation of programs for infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities and their families;
  • 2.11 Gathering information and taking action on substantive issues of concern identified by Council members, the Developmental Disabilities Program, and other stakeholders (such as family members, Montana Council on Developmental Disabilities, Montana Association of Independent Disabilities Services, Child & Family Services Contracted Provider Agencies, and other councils that impact children and families.) regarding service delivery and integration of services for children with disabilities and their families; and
  • 2.12 Assuring that members reporting to the Council on family and agency issues at each meeting select and share concise information on those issues and other important topics for inclusion with the minutes.

Section 1. Membership
The membership of the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council shall consist of representatives of the public and private sector who, by virtue of their position, interest, and training can contribute to the quality of services provided to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. The Council shall be composed of:

  • 1.1 At least 6 parents, representing the 5 service regions of the state, and one “Parent at Large” Representative, including minority parents of infants, toddlers, or children with disabilities who have knowledge of or experience with programs for infants and toddlers and children with disabilities; at least one parent representative shall be the parent of a child with a disability age six or younger.
  • 1.2 At least 6 public or private providers of services;
  • 1.3 At least one representative from the State Legislature;
  • 1.4 At least one person involved in personnel preparation;
  • 1.5 At least one Family Support Specialist involved in the day-to-day delivery of services to infants and toddlers and their families;
  • 1.6 At least one DDP Quality Improvement Specialist involved in monitoring services to infants and toddlers and their families;
  • 1.7 At least one representative from a Public Awareness & Education Organization in Montana involved in services to infants and toddlers and their families;
  • 1.8 Other members representing each of the appropriate State agencies involved in the provision of or payment for early intervention services to special needs infants and toddlers and their families including representatives from the Department of Public Health and Human Services; Developmental Disabilities Program of the Division of Developmental Services (lead agency for Part C), Child & Family Services/Child Care, Special Health Services/Public Health, Children’s Mental Health Services, Quality Assurance Division, Medicaid Services, Child Protective Services and, from outside the Department, Montana’s School for the Deaf and Blind, and the Office of Public Instruction. State agency representatives shall have sufficient authority to engage in policy planning and implementation on behalf of their agency;
  • 1.9 At least one member from the agency responsible for the governance of health insurance for the State;
  • 1.10 At least one representative from a Local Education Agency who is a special educator;
  • 1.11 At least one representative from a Head Start or Early Head Start Agency in Montana:
  • 1.12 At least one representative who is a direct medical/health care provider; and
  • 1.13 At least one representative appointed by the coordinator of services for the homeless;
  • 1.14 Other members as appointed by the Governor.

Section 2. Appointment
Members of the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council shall be appointed by the Governor. Appointments to the Council shall insure diverse geographic representation as well as representation from rural and urban areas;

Section 3. Orientation
An orientation to the Council will be provided to all new Council appointees. Each new appointee will have a mentor Council member appointed to help orient them to the Council and its function.
3.1 Newly appointed members of the Council shall have an “Orientation to the Council” meeting available to them.

Section 4. Term of office
Terms of office shall be for 1, 2, or 3 years, except those made to fill an unexpired term. Reappointment of a Council member shall be at the discretion of the Governor. Members may be appointed for consecutive terms.

Section 5. Termination/Removal/Resignation/Vacancies

  • 5.1 Failure to attend three (3) consecutive meetings in a year shall result in a Council review for possible recommendation for termination. A certified letter seeking re-commitment to Council membership will be sent to chronically non-attending members. Lacking a definitive response to the letter, a majority vote of the full Council membership is required to ratify a recommendation that a member be replaced.
  • 5.2 A Council member’s resignation must be in writing and shall be submitted to the Governor. Copies of the written resignation shall also be submitted to the Council Chair, and the Administrator of the Developmental Disabilities Program.
  • 5.3 Appointments to fill a vacancy on the Council for any reason shall be made by the Governor. The Council, through the Council Chair and lead agency staff, shall inform the Governor within thirty (30) calendar days of any vacancy.

Section 1. Meetings

  • 1.1 The Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council shall meet at the call of the Chairperson(s) and there shall be at least three business meetings each year.
  • 1.2 The Council shall meet once each year at the call of the Chair to attend a Council Leadership Summit to set annual short and long term goals, and to foster and strengthen personal and interagency partnerships.
  • 1.3 The Council’s business meetings must be publicly announced sufficiently in advance of the dates they are to be held to ensure that all interested parties have an opportunity to attend.
  • 1.4 The Council’s business meetings must be open and accessible to the general public.
  • 1.5 To the extent necessary, interpreters for persons who are deaf must be provided at Council meetings for both Council members and participants. The cost of providing interpreters may be paid for with Part C funds.
  • 1.6 The Council may use Part C funds to conduct public hearings and forums, to reimburse FSSAC members for reasonable and necessary expenses for attending FSSAC meetings and performing FSSAC duties, to pay compensation to an FSSAC member if the member is not employed or is he/she must forfeit wages from other employment when performing official FSSAC business, to hire staff, to pay for interpreters, and to obtain the services of professional, technical, and clerical personnel, as necessary to carry out the performance of its functions. Except as provided above, members shall serve without compensation from funds available under Part C of IDEA.

Section 2. Notification of Meetings and Agenda
The Council Chair, in collaboration with the Part C lead agency staff, shall insure that a written notice of each meeting shall be distributed at least two weeks prior to the meeting. Such notice shall include the tentative agenda for the meeting. Minutes of each meeting shall be distributed to Council members within four weeks of each meeting.

Section 3. Substitutions
There will be no substitutions for Council members at meetings with the exception of parent representatives.

Section 4. Voting

  • 4.1 Matters may be introduced for consideration by any member, or by the Chair. Motions shall require a second.
  • 4.2 Each Council member, with the exception of the Council Chair, is entitled to one vote on each matter submitted to a vote.
  • 4.3 Substantive questions put to vote shall be decided by a majority of duly appointed members present and voting.
  • 4.4 A quorum shall consist of members of the FSSAC in attendance.
  • 4.5 Voting by proxy is not permitted.
  • 4.6 In the event of a tie vote, the Council Chair shall cast the deciding vote.
  • 4.7 Under special circumstances, the Chair may authorize a special vote by mail, email, or phone.
  • 4.8 Rules of precedence of motions and other parliamentary procedures not specified herein shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order.
  • 4.9 No Council member may vote on any matter providing direct financial benefit to that member or otherwise give the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Section 5. Expenses
Allowable expenses incurred by Council members for attending meetings shall be reimbursed in accordance with Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services/ Developmental Disabilities Program guidelines. For parent representatives such expenses shall include travel, lodging, meals, honoraria, and child care costs incurred because of attendance at Family Support Services Advisory Council meetings. Additionally, a parent representative shall be financially supported to attend one annual Part C Meeting previous to taking office as Chair of the Council. See 1.6 above for additional FSSAC expenses available for FSSAC members.

Section 1. Election of Chair/Vice Chair

  • 1.1 Pursuant to State of Montana Office of the Governor Executive Order No. 21-91, the Council shall elect a Chair and Vice-Chair every other year to serve a two-year term. However, Chairs and Vice-Chairs are not limited to one term and may be re-elected by the Council to serve successive terms.
  • 1.2 The Chair and Vice-Chair shall always be parent representatives on the Council.
  • 1.3 Nominations and election of a Chair and Vice-Chair will be held at the first meeting following the Summit Meeting every other year. Newly elected officers will serve in the “elect” capacity until officially installed at the next meeting.
  • 1.4 For purposes of continuity, the name of the Vice-Chair from the previous two year term will automatically be placed in nomination for election to Chair.
  • 1.5 Under special circumstances resulting in a vacant elected office, the Chair or Vice-Chair shall authorize a special election to fill the vacancy.
  • 1.6 The Chair and Vice-Chair shall be elected by a majority of duly appointed members present and voting.

Section 2. Chair
The Chair is a member of the Council and shall:

  • 2.1 In collaboration with lead agency staff and the Standing Committee on Parent’s Issues, be responsible for developing meeting agendas, scheduling meetings and ensuring completion of all tasks associated with Council meetings;
  • 2.2 Preside over all meetings of the Council;
  • 2.3 Vote only in the event of a tie-vote on any matter submitted to a vote of the Council membership; and
  • 2.4 Perform all duties incidental to the position of Chair and all other duties as may be prescribed by the Council.

Section 3. Vice-Chair
The Vice-Chair is a voting member of the Council and shall:

  • 3.1 In the Chair’s absence, death or inability or refusal to act, the Vice-Chair shall perform the duties of the Chair;
  • 3.2 When the Vice-Chair is active as the Chair, he/she shall have all the powers of and be subject to all the restrictions upon the Chair.

Section 1. Committee Establishment
The Chair may establish committees or task forces as deemed necessary to carry out tasks as designated by the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council. Membership shall consist of past or current Council members and other persons as appointed by the Chairperson. Each committee or task force must consist of at least two Council members, including one parent representative, and must be chaired by a Council member. Chairs of committees will submit concise committee reports at the Council’s business meetings as needed to keep the full Council aware of key issues and committee progress.

The lead agency shall provide designated staff and services to the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council, in accordance with the state’s Application under Part C of the IDEA. The lead agency staff shall serve as Ex-Officio member of all committees and task forces and shall complete Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council tasks as outlined in the federal legislation.

These Bylaws may be altered, amended or repealed and new Bylaws adopted by formal action of the Council. Proposed changes should be submitted to the Council Chair. Changes will be discussed at a Council meeting and action taken at the next Council meeting.