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November 1, 2013

Open Line

November 1, 2013

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

TennesseeWorks, a program of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, hosted the Inaugural Employment Summit & Statewide Community Conversation on Monday, October 21 welcoming more than 140 self-advocates, family members, employers, educators, DIDD and VR service providers, and government officials to the Vanderbilt University campus. With the intention of building capacity and commitment to connecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to meaningful jobs in Tennessee, the day-long Summit provided a venue through which to learn about national and local efforts, and to generate conversation about increasing employment outcomes.

DIDD Deputy Commissioner of Program Operations, Jordan Allen, provided the introduction to keynote speaker Cesilee Coulson, executive director of the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment. She opened the day by challenging participants to "set bold goals" to overcome perceived barriers and to believe in the possibility that Tennesseans with disabilities can be held to the same employment standard as all Tennesseans. Coulson also outlined core strategies that her home state of Washington and neighboring state of Oregon have implemented through the Employment First Leadership Mentor Program. clip
Robert Nicholas, coordinator of 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, focused his presentation on employer-driven initiatives emphasizing the good business sense it makes to hire people with disabilities. Outlining the value people with disabilities bring to the workplace, providing examples of companies leading the way, and profiling the Project SEARCH model, Nicholas made the case for a pressing need for collaborations between service providers and employers to improve employment outcomes in the state.

TennesseeWorks is supported by a Project of National Significance grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Community Living (ACL), Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD).

ICF/IID Certification for the Day One Program:  On October 29th, the 12-bed, non-secure and co-ed program entitled "Day One" received its initial certification as an Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.  Day One is a program at the Harold Jordan Center (HJC), and its implementation is the result of over three years of planning and modifications to the building and supports/services provided. Day One is intended to support persons over the age of 18 who have serious behavioral and/or psychiatric challenges and have had difficulty maintaining long-term stability in other community settings. 

Please join us in congratulating the HJC and middle regional staff for their hard work and perseverance to make this goal a reality and for making Day One an option in our DIDD continuum of services and supports.

TennCare Announcement: Every three years TennCare is required to develop a document outlining activities that will happen over the next few years and to outline concrete goals and objectives. The overall goal is to provide high quality, cost effective care to their members. They would like to have input from both the partner groups within the state as well as the members they serve. Please follow the link in this notice to view the Quality Strategy and submit your comments to by 4:00 PM on November 18:

clipDIDD Wellness Walkers:  DIDD staff from the West Tennessee Regional Office in Jackson, including a 15-year cancer survivor, participated in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer 5K walk on Saturday, October 26th at the Generals Ball Park. DIDD staff placed a large jar at the front office and asked everyone to contribute their pocket change. This effort generated $90.35 which they contributed to the event.

Guy Jones, East Tennessee Family Support Coordinator, is retiring on November 8, 2013.

According to Nancy Vanderlan with the Emory Valley Center, Guy puts sunshine into many people's lives and uplifts spirits on hard days.  His point of view on life is, "always be positive with everyone, and make positive comments about your co-workers, people you support, and in general everyone you come in contact with".  With his positive comments, e-mails, and phone calls, Guy led by example, so people were empowered to go forth with renewed energy and spread the sunshine into the lives of the individuals who receive support from this wonderful program.  Thank you Guy; you will be missed by many.

Discovery Plus Retreat:  A group of six Tennesseans, comprised of staff from the DIDD, SRVS, the Rochelle Center and Workforce Essentials, participated in the Discovery Plus Retreat. It was facilitated by Marc Gold and Associates in Ocean Springs, Mississippi from October 19-23. Participants were provided with opportunities to network with individuals from other states who have been working with Discovery. Additionally, the group learned about challenges and how to find solutions, capacity building, when to stop the process of Discovery and the power of positive descriptive writing. Several Subject Matter Experts from the Office of Disability Employment Policy also participated and had an opportunity to meet with the Tennessee group. Marc Gold and Associates commended the Tennessee group on being actively involved in the retreat and for having a great attitude in believing that employment is for everyone.

The Tennessee Alliance of Support Coordinators (TASC) recently held their annual luncheon to honor the winners and nominees of the Linda Maurer Award for Excellence in ISC Services. clipAnnually, TASC recognizes a Support Coordinator in each region of the state who demonstrates excellence in using person centered practices in an effort to make a difference for those supported in the state's Waiver programs. TASC was pleased to give this year's awards to Natasha Brasher, Neighborhood Network, in West TN; Cindy McLean, Compass Coordination, in Middle TN; and Missy Smith, Vision Coordination Services, in East TN.

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.

Policy Publication Notice: The following policy has been uploaded to the DIDD internet page: 80.2.3 Investigation Review Committee. If you are maintaining hard copies of policies, then replace the previous version of policy 80.2.3 with the current version. In addition, this policy can be obtained on the Policy and Procedures internet home page at

DIDD Customer Focused Services would like to thank Life Bridges and the Orange Grove Center for graciously hosting the Conservatorship Forum held on October 29th. The effort was met with great success, with a combined attendance of well over 70 folks!  Thanks also to those ISCs and Providers in the greater Chattanooga area who notified families. As a reminder, a panel will present at the Arc of Washington County and at the Greene Valley Development Center (11:00 a.m. and 3:00 pm, respectively) on Tuesday, November 5th. Upper East ISCs and Providers please spread the word and have interested parties RSVP to Dr. Mike Mailahn at: (865) 320-2196.

The Tennessee Employment Consortium met at One Cannon Way in Nashville on October 24th. Updates were provided regarding the Tennessee Works Employment Summit of October 21.  Dr. Lynette Henderson also shared that Community Conversations facilitated throughout the state were successful and well received by each community. An overview on the subject of employment, how it can affect benefits, and the importance of providing people with an opportunity to become educated regarding their benefits and receiving a paycheck was provided by Heidi Oeshsel from the Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee. A summary of becoming an Employment Network and the Ticket to Work process was given by Sharyn Hancock of Workforce Essentials in Clarksville. Ruth Brock from the Division of Rehabilitation Services briefly spoke about the informational meetings regarding the Letters of Understanding and encouraged people to attend.  DIDD staff also provided regional updates and an overview of our Employment First initiative.

clipBuffalo River Services Accreditation:  Last week, Buffalo River Services (BRS) became the first organization in Tennessee to achieve a four year Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation from The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL).  Lucy Klym, Quality Enhancement Specialist from CQL and members from the TN DIDD.

Accreditation Team, Dana Scott, Tony Pena, Derrell Lankford, and Jennifer Aldrich, lead Buffalo River Services self advocates, management staff, select members from BRS DSP's, family members, and community members in developing a Person-Centered Excellence Plan for the next Four-Year Accreditation with CQL. 

The plan was developed after 2 days of involvement and participation from all stakeholders present at the meeting. This input was shared with all stakeholders during the afternoon session on Day 1. During the self-advocate discussion, BRS presented all their hard work, dedication, and action steps that they had completed with CQL over the past 10 years. BRS has several employees that have been trained to complete Personal Outcome Measure Interviews. BRS had a Focus Forum lead by Jill Westring from CQL. The DIDD TN Accreditation Team completed a Basic Assurance Assessment and a sample of POM interviews at BRS in March and April of 2013. Day 2 of the work group meeting consisted of all groups and stakeholders breaking into smaller groups to select top priorities to begin the process of BRS's Real Time Work Plan. On day 3, the agency presented to all stakeholders a final draft of their Person Centered Excellence Plan that will be completed over the next 4 years of their accreditation.

BRS is grateful to DIDD, CQL, and all the support from the community and family members. BRS celebrates their accomplishment and will begin work on their 4 year plan. Buffalo River Services wishes to provide encouragement and support to other agencies that are interested in applying for their Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation with CQL.

clipMs. Theda Phillips celebrated her 90th birthday on Wednesday with a Halloween theme.  The celebration came a few days early as her actual birthday is Monday, November 4, making Theda the youngest of two 90 year-old ladies living at Greene Valley!  She goes by the nickname "Sissy," has a bit of a mischievous streak, and loves attention, which is what she received in a big way at her party!  Miss Theda has lived at Greene Valley since 1981.  She attends the Briarwood Habilitation Program and loves to stay on the go.  Happy Birthday wishes are extended to Miss Theda from everyone at Greene Valley! 

Licensure Update:  This week's focus is on the waiver service "personal assistance", which is licensed as "personal support services".  Per Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA), there are two types of "personal support services": per TCA 33-2-403 (a) ".....The department of mental health and substance abuse services shall also license personal support services for the aged as well as persons with mental illness", and further on "....personal support services for persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities shall be licensed by the department of intellectual and developmental disabilities". This means that any entity licensed by DIDD to provide personal assistance to waiver participants that also provides personal support to Choices participants must have a license for that service from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  Staff from your Regional DIDD Licensure Office can provide further clarification upon request.  Contact information your Regional DIDD Licensure office can be found on the DIDD website at:  

Upcoming DIDD Employment First Task Force Meeting

Date: Tuesday, November 5th from 12:00-2:00pm
Where: At the Workforce - 220 French Landing Dr. Nashville, Tennessee – Conference Room: Tennessee Room Side A
Our Subject Matter Expert from the Office of Disability Policy, Lisa Mills will participate in the meeting and provide Technical Assistance regarding the task force.
If you plan to attend this meeting, please note that you will need to show your photo identification to the security officer at the front door.
For more information, please contact Amy Gonzalez, Sate Director of Employment & Day Services at (615) 532-6119.  You can find the agenda here:


Be safe and have a great weekend!