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December 6, 2013

Open Line

December 6, 2013

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

Arlington Lawsuit Dismissal:  Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced yesterday that after 21 years of litigation, federal court Judge Jon Phipps McCalla of the U.S. District Court, Western Division has dismissed the lawsuit originally filed over conditions at the now-closed Arlington Developmental Center in Memphis.  Since the suit was originally filed, improvements in Quality Assurance, Protection from Harm, provider services, support coordination, clinical services and many other foundational structures to our system occurred and will continue for all persons who receive DIDD services. 

The dismissal is a result of many people working  diligently to accomplish the numerous and often difficult tasks set forth in the Exit Plan established in December 2012. Under the agreement, the state enrolled a small number of additional people in the Arlington class to receive home and community based services, provided additional efforts to assist class members in nursing homes to transition to the community, and unveiled plans to demolish the former residential cottages on the Arlington campus. 

Employment Resource:  The Ticket to Work team is pleased to announce a new four-minute video explaining the Ticket to Work program, titled Meet Ben! An Introduction to Ticket to Work. The video is available online or on CD/DVD.

The “Meet Ben” video will introduce you to Ben, who wants to work but needs to understand how working would affect his benefits. The video explains the Ticket to Work program, the process Ben followed to learn more about the program and his options for finding services to help him along the way.

In addition to viewing the “Meet Ben” video, you can help spread the word about the Ticket program and resources available for persons supported, including the new video. The video can be viewed directly during initial meetings, posted to your website or shared via social media outlets, meeting groups and other events.  To request a CD or DVD, please click here.

Agency Star Awards:  The department recently awarded star status to several agencies.  Congratulations to the following providers for their exemplary work and dedication to persons supported:

4-Star:  Exceptional Measures; Innovative Behavior Services; Joyful Care, Inc.; Mid-South Area Residential Services; Sitters and More of Middle Tennessee; St. John’s Community Services

3-Star: Guardian Community Living; Jeanette Bunt; ProLex Medical Services; Volunteers of America-West Region

An Ounce of Prevention:  A recent review of Quality Assurance survey results from all regions during the last quarter, disclosed an overall decline in proper personal funds management.  Some of the most common issues were:

  • Missing receipts.
  • Incorrect balances or no running balances on logs.
  • Calculation errors.
  • Bank reconciliations not completed.
  • Late fees incurred.
  • Monthly food stamp logs not utilized.
  • Receipts not maintained.
  • Large advances outstanding to agency.

Ensuring that agency practice reflects policy requirements benefits persons supported as well as providers. For additional details and clarification, the entire Personal Funds Management policy can be viewed and downloaded here.

Career/Employment Seminar:  The Tennessee Career Center in Clarksville is hosting a special one-day seminar with internationally renowned writer, trainer and keynote speaker Denise Bissonnette on January 14 and January 15 at the Belle Hollow Event Center from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.   Drawing on her experiences and assisting persons with disabilities find their rightful place in the work environment, Denise will present practical tips for applying “possibility thinking” to move beyond barriers in employment.  Those wishing to participate should choose January 14 or 15; both sessions are the same and the seminar is free of charge. Breakfast and lunch will also be provided. 

Additionally, a brainstorming/working session will be held with Denise on January 16 at the Belle Hollow Event Center from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  The session is specifically targeted towards supervisors, front-line team leaders, employment specialists, and career/job coaches.  Participants will identify, summarize and expand upon best practices as they seek to create more inclusive services and workplaces for persons with disabilities in Tennessee.

To request a registration form for either event, please e-mail Sharyn Hancock, Disability Resource Coordinator at  Please note opportunities are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Waiver Service:  Intensive Behavior Residential Services (IBRS) is a new waiver service for persons with severe mental health and behavior challenges.  IBRS will offer an array of clinical services to meet the treatment needs of persons supported.  RHD (Middle) and D&S Residential Services (West) have now been approved to provide the service.   A flow chart of the admissions process and an application are available, if interested.   Admission applications for January 2014 consideration are due by December 31, 2013.  If you have any questions about the admissions process, please contact Dr. Bruce Davis at (615) 532-1610 or  

Planning and Policy Councils:  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 persons supported, families, providers, advocates and DIDD. The deadline for form submissions is December 20, 2013.  Forms can be mailed until December 13 to Kellie Miller, Director of Project Management, at 161 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37243 or returned via e-mail to After December 13, forms should be addressed to Kellie Miller at Citizens Plaza, 400 Deaderick Street, 10th Floor, Nashville, TN 37243.

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.

Webinar Opportunity:  On December 11, the National Disability Institute (NDI) will host a one-hour webinar titled, Providing Accommodations to Persons with Disabilities, at 3:00 p.m. EST.  Experts will discuss site accessibility, effective communication methods and how to make low-cost, high impact reasonable accommodations.  To register, please click here.

clipGreene Valley Wellness:  Greene Valley Developmental Center walking club members clocked an impressive 5268 miles for September and October 2013!  That is comparable to a round trip from Greeneville to San Francisco!  As part of the Working for a Healthier TN initiative implemented by Governor Haslam,  Greene Valley staff stepped up to the challenge and held a successful walking kick-off on August 23. To keep the momentum going and take advantage of the beautiful fall weather, several walking teams were formed to participate in a walking competition.  “Levine’s Ladies” (pictured seated above) won with a whopping 998 miles!  Various door prizes were awarded to members at the Greene Valley Communication Meeting on November 21, with the top winners each receiving a one-hour massage from local massage sponsors.  Not everyone won a prize, but the message was simple:  “The best prize that each participating member received was good health.”  

Focus Groups Celebrations:   This month, the focus groups are going to celebrate a whole year of hard work on self-advocacy, rights, semi-independent living, coping skills, dealing with difficult emotions, aggressive behavior reduction, problem solving and team work.  Holiday celebrations will be held as follows:

Memphis:  December 12 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at SRVS.  To RSVP, please call Yolanda Beason at 901-745-7523.

Jackson:  December 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at STAR Center.  To RSVP, please call Yolanda Beason.

Nashville:  December 17 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the basement of One Cannon Way, Clover Bottom.   Karaoke will be provided through the generosity of Omni Visions, Inc.  To RSVP, please call Sherry Baskerville at 615-231-5492.

A very special thanks to all Regional Office employees, Arc TN staff,  the Person Centered Planning units, CQL leaders, Dr. Bruce Davis, Behavior Analysts, ISCs and the numerous providers and  staff who have generously given their assistance and support throughout the year to make the focus groups a meaningful event for persons supported.

Greeneville Focus Group:  The next meeting is December 17 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Greene County Skills conference room.  Discussion topics will center on accomplishments and resolutions.  Friends, support staff, advocates, ISCs and others are welcome. Please RSVP by December 16 to or

clipFestival of Trees:  Announcement of the 2013 Festival of Trees presented an opportunity for some people at Greene Valley to become involved in yet another a community event, and have some fun while doing so.   The Festival of Trees sponsored by the Greene County Partnership Tourism Department is a fundraising event where area businesses and churches donate fully decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, centerpieces, topiaries, and gingerbread houses to raise money for various organizations in the local area.

The Rosewood members of the Seekers Bible Club worked very diligently on a wreath and cinnamon ornament centerpiece as their contribution representing Greene Valley.  Using adaptive equipment, they carefully mixed the dough to just the right consistency, and once rolled to the perfect thickness, they chose favorite cookie cutter shapes and pushed them through  gingerbread and cinnamon applesauce dough.  At assembly, folks placed the cookies in the jar making sure all were positioned just right to show off their fragrant and pretty ornaments!  When everything was completed, club members gave the final okay before releasing their donations to the event.   Several people visited the Festival of Trees site and enjoyed seeing their hard work on display, as well as the gorgeous Christmas trees and other decorations.

This year’s proceeds will benefit the Food Bank, the Tourism Department, and the Sports Council of the Greene County Partnership.

DIDD Training Update:  With the department’s increased emphasis on employment, a variety of training courses are available through Relias Learning for job coaches and persons involved with developing employment opportunities in the community.  The  job coach curriculum  has now expanded to include six Relias employment courses.  All staff working as job coaches are encouraged to complete this new curriculum to better prepare for working as a job coach in today’s competitive market. 

The curriculum now includes: Creating Community Careers Part 1: Introduction to Customized Employment; Evidence-Based Practices in Supported Employment Part 1: Principles and Practices for Job Finding; Evidence-Based Practices in Supported Employment Part 2: Supporting Employed Consumers; Creating Community Careers Part 2: Discovering Personal Genius; Creating Community Careers; Part 5: Systematic Instruction and Effective Communication in the Workplace; Job Coach Training 2013 and Supports for Success.

Courses are available for self-enrollment as a means to ensure that shared staff complete training required for your agency.  Agencies that have many shared employees are encouraged to attend a webinar on the upcoming new functionality currently being piloted by Tennessee in several sub-portal agencies.  Learners will be able to create their own master account in Relias and give agencies rights to view all their learning.  This new functionality will make training available to the learner from a personal e-mail address so if they are inactivated at an agency, they will still have access to share their transcript.  Staff Development will be sharing more information on this new functionality in January after the pilot is completed.  Below, are dates and times of Relias webinars:

December 9: “Supervisors Role – Enrollment and Reporting”  (2:00 p.m. CST/3:00 p.m. EST)
December 10:  “Functionality of the Share Feature”  (1:00 p.m. CST/2:00 p.m. EST)
December 11: “Administrator Role”  (9:00 a.m. CST/10:00 a.m. EST)
December 17: “Administrator Role”  (9:00 a.m. CST/10:00 a.m. EST)
December 18:  “Functionality of the Share Feature” (12:30 p.m. CST/1:30 p.m. EST)
December 19: “Supervisors Role-Enrollment and Reporting” (10:00 a.m. CST/11:00 a.m. EST)


Be safe and have a great weekend!