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October 4, 2013

Open Line

October 4, 2013

This week’s edition includes important information I want to share with you:

DIDD Mission Statement: Many of you are already familiar with DIDD’s vision, which is to “support all Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities in living fulfilling and rewarding lives.”. However, we have decided to streamline our mission statement, not only as part of the Governor’s Customer Focused Government initiative, but also to clarify our purpose for the people we support and all Tennesseans.  Therefore, our new mission is:  “To become the nation’s most person-centered and cost-effective state support system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”  I ask all of you to join me in making sure we live up to our vision and mission.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month:  National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues. It also celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers who are disabled. The 2013 theme is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.” It simply supports the premise that everyone is recognized as capable and able of participating in the workforce. Additionally, it increases awareness in the community and reminds families, employers and agencies providing services that persons with disabilities are part of our society and entitled to work and play in the community as we all do.  For additional information about NDEAM, click here.

2013 disAbility Mentoring Day:  As October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) and other Vanderbilt co-sponsors will be hosting the 2013 disAbility Mentoring Day on Wednesday, October 16 from 8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at VKC, Room 241. Job seekers with disabilities who are interested in disAbility Mentoring Day must contact Lynnette Henderson at (615) 936-0448 or

Employment and the Individual Support Plan (ISP):  Last week’s submission on Quality Assurance monitoring included the expectation that after October 1, 2013, the ISP must contain specific information about employment for the person.  The following is last week’s excerpt:

The requirement for Individual Support Plans (ISPs) to address a person’s desire to work has been in place for a number of years.  Beginning October 1, 2013, upon the next annual review or amendment of an ISP, the expectation is that there be a statement regarding the person’s desire to work included in the ISP.

We’d like to clarify that the expectation is for initial, annual, and any amended plans after October 1, 2013.  The department’s Senior Management concurred that the Circle of Support (COS) will need to meet, discuss, and place this information into the ISP for any initial, annual or amended ISPs beginning immediately. As it specifically pertains to amended ISP submissions, this requirement covers all amendments even those which are considered “routine.” Our intention is to address Employment Based Outcomes for all persons receiving services as expeditiously as possible. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Relias Learning Conference Overview:  Last week, Relias Learning hosted a learner conference in San Antonio, Texas. The conference was well attended by persons involved with training for the Department of Correction, mental health agencies, nursing homes and home health for the elderly, as well as those providing services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.   Relias conducted sessions on specific functionality of their system, an improved automatic enrollment feature, upcoming additions and changes to their catalog of courses, and the much anticipated share feature.  The share feature will allow capability to share a learner’s transcript with other agencies by clicking a button on their master training record.  This feature is currently in testing.  The share feature will be available for piloting with interested agencies this month by contacting Joyce Munda, Deputy Director of Staff Development at   Once piloted, more information will be shared via webinars and possible regional meetings.

Project Titan Newsletter:  As part of our ongoing efforts to keep everyone up to date on the latest developments surrounding Project Titan, we have started a newsletter.  The monthly edition of “Titan News” will be posted on bulletin boards and also distributed via e-mail.  However, you can also find a copy of the October newsletter here.

Employment Summit and Statewide Community Conversation: The inaugural TennesseeWorks Employment Summit and Statewide Community Conversation will be held Monday, October 21 from 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Vanderbilt Student Life Center, located off of 25th Avenue on the Vanderbilt University campus.  The keynote speaker will be Cesilee Coulson, Executive Director of the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment. The lunch speaker will be Robert Nicholas, Ph.D. Coordinator, with the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) Project SEARCH, and Senior Visiting Fellow for Disability Research at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

Those encouraged to attend this event are teams from the six communities where Community Conversations were held (Jackson, Lawrenceburg, Memphis, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, and Greeneville); persons including youth with and without disabilities who wanted to participate in a Community Conversation but did not have the opportunity in their community; state legislators, city and county mayors and Chamber of Commerce leaders; area economic development leaders; educators; faith community leaders; state leaders from the disability community; and leaders from relevant state government agencies. However, the event is free and open to the public.  Space is limited to 150, so register early on the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) Events page here. Registration will close on October 11. Parking information will be shared with registered attendees. Due to limited space, please plan to carpool that day if at all possible. For more information, please call (615) 322-4999 or visit the TennesseeWorks web site.

Community Based (CB) Day Services:  The department continues to receive questions from providers on what services can be provided within the scope of CB Day.  Below, is some clarification:

  • Travel time between activities is a necessary part of community participation and would be included in the six (6) hours.  However, the first and last trip of the day, if the person is taken to a central location and then goes out into the community for their day activities, is not included in the six (6) hours.
  • Doctor appointments are also considered to be a billable CB Day activity.  However, non-  emergency medical transportation provided within the context of day activities is not a billable service in conjunction with CB Day services.
  • Therapy is part of the normal occurring activities that a person may have during the day and should not jeopardize billing for CB Day services.  That being said, providers should also consider this when scheduling events so that the person supported will be able to experience a full day even on days when therapy is scheduled.  Likewise, therapists should continue to be flexible and schedule appointments at the convenience of the person supported even if it’s sometimes outside of typical day hours.

Employment Success Story:  Last year, 364,000 vehicles visited the Rest Area at Exit 129 on Interstate 40. Vehicles that visited during the hours of 9 am and 3 pm Monday through Friday benefited from the hard work of employee Greg Terry. Terry, a Jackson resident, is in Easter Seals' Supported Employment Program, the purpose of which is to help people develop and maintain competitive work in their communities. Working 40 hours each week, Terry has gone above and beyond the norm for Supported Employment and enjoys every minute of it! According to Terry, his favorite part of working at the Rest Area is keeping the sinks in tip-topshape! He even refers to this task as his "specialty." Even better than keeping the restrooms spotless is having extra spending money to take his girlfriend, Valerie, out to dinner on the weekends!


In addition to participating in Easter Seals' Supported Employment Program, Terry is also in their Supported Living Program. As part of this program, Terry lives with two other housemates in a home of their choosing, and receives minimal assistance from staff to lead a productive and independent home life. His work at the Rest Area has also contributed significantly to his independence and productivity. If he weren't at the Rest Area, Terry would be doing piece work at the Lexington Day Center. His work at the Rest Area has given him a greater sense of purpose, however, because it allows him to play a greater role in the community at large. Easter Seals Tennessee and DIDD are thrilled to see all of the success that Greg Terry has experienced through their programs and hope his achievements will continue into the future!

Planning and Policy Councils:  When DIDD became a department in 2011, the Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) was updated to reflect this change and also to create Statewide and Regional Planning and Policy Councils (PPC), as well as a Developmental Disabilities Statewide PPC to allow for public collaboration on issues affecting the department, people we support, and those interested in our services.  The department appreciates the input and ideas these Councils have generated.  Four of the five councils will have several vacancies in the near future.  We need your expertise and experience because we value your opinion.  The department urges those who are interested in serving and willing to volunteer their talents and time, to complete an Interest Form. A link to the form is available here.  New council members will begin their service in January 2014.

Pursuant to TCA 33-2-202 and 33-2-203, the Developmental Disabilities Statewide, East Regional, Middle Regional, and West Regional PPCs shall have the following purpose:

The Councils shall advise the Statewide Planning and Policy Council (SPPC) on a desirable array of prevention, early intervention, treatment, and habilitation services and supports for persons supported and their families, and such other matters as the Commissioner or the SPPC may request; and provide information and advice to the department on policy, formulation of budget requests, and development and evaluation of services and supports.

We look forward to the input and ideas council members will contribute and welcome this collaboration between DIDD, persons supported, families, providers, and advocates. The deadline for form submissions is December 20, 2013.  Forms can be mailed to Kellie Miller, Director of Project Management, at 161 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37243 or returned via e-mail to

To view public notices of upcoming meetings and minutes from any of the five councils, click here, enter "Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" in the department section and all DIDD-related meetings will be displayed.

Family Support Statewide Conference:  On October 1 and 2, the Family Support State Council hosted a statewide conference for Family Support Program contract agencies and DIDD staff at the West Nashville Police Precinct. Forty-five (45) people attended, where learning and fun ensued. It has been six years since the agencies met statewide. Discussion topics centered on ways to improve outreach, learn more about DIDD Essential Learning, receive guidance on advocacy efforts, engage in an open dialogue on developing a statewide database for data collection, tips on safety awareness during home visits, expectations for DIDD Fiscal Accountability Review (FAR), guidance on eligibility determinations, the do’s and don’ts when developing priorities, open discussions on how the State Council can assist agencies, and best practices and sharing among agencies. Many thanks to the speakers for taking time out of their busy schedules and thank you to State Council members, agencies, and DIDD staff for providing food and other items for the event.

West Tennessee Regional Office (WTRO)/Jackson Satellite Office:  The Jackson satellite office will be moving in the near future to the Lowell Thomas State Office Building in downtown Jackson.  The building is currently being renovated and will be state-of-the-art upon completion. Any time there is change, a certain amount of anxiety can occur. Therefore, WTRO management staff arranged for the Partners in Health Employee Assistance Program to come and speak to employees on the timely subject of “Persevering in Times of Work Place Change.” Brian Long, a counselor at Methodist LeBonheur, engaged staff by going through the stages of change. Staff also took a short personal quiz on the topic, “How Resilient Are You?” Most staff discovered they were very resilient and that is the key factor to accepting change. The training was very interactive and well received.  The Employee Assistance Program offers many other useful and free seminars. For a current list of offered trainings, please visit their website here.

Public Comments on Rate Structure Methodology:  In accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) 33-1-309, DIDD conducted a public meeting to receive comments on proposed changes to its Rate Structure Methodology. The department’s responses to comments received is now available. The document can be obtained by clicking here.


Be safe and have a great weekend!