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November 15, 2013

Open Line

November 15, 2013

This week's edition is dedicated to Ashley Seus, a Direct Support Professional who passed away on November 8, 2013. Ashley was loved by many and worked with Sunrise Community of Tennessee since 2010. The department wishes to express our deepest sympathy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashley's family, friends and Sunrise Community staff during this difficult time.

Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Budget Request: On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to present the department's requested budget for fiscal year 2014-2015. This is the first step on a long walk toward finalizing the budget that DIDD will operate under starting July 1, 2014. Now that I have presented our budget request, Governor Haslam will work through all of the agency budget requests, over 50 in all. He will present his budget proposal to the Legislature, likely in late January. During the spring, the Legislature will review the governor's budget proposal and conduct hearings with state agencies on the budget the governor proposed. The governor will likely present an administration amendment to his budget in March or April. The Legislature will make its final amendments in its final budget, called the appropriations bill, likely in April to be signed by the governor. We appreciated the opportunity to share our proposal with the governor, along with the strides DIDD is making on our Customer Focused Government plan. The presentation I outlined to the governor can be found here.

Independent Financial Audits: This week, we are reiterating the importance of a requirement for providers to obtain an independent financial audit, if applicable. Further specific information about this requirement and its applicability for providers can be found in Section A.10.(d) of the current provider agreement. Providers that receive $500,000 or more in aggregate state and federal funds shall undergo, at their expense, an annual independent audit of records in accordance with the requirements of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury. Within 14 days of completion/availability of the audit, the provider must submit a copy of the report to the DIDD Director of Risk Management and Licensure and the appropriate Regional Director.

During a Fiscal Accountability Review (FAR), the independent financial audit is reviewed. The expectation is that the FAR reviewer will see a completed audit for the period ending during the FAR review period. If one has not yet been completed for the period, the provider should present an engagement letter from the accountant who will be conducting the audit.

The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has guidelines concerning the timing of the engagement letter. A provider should have the engagement letter available for review prior to the end date of the period of time that is to be audited. For example, if the provider's fiscal year ends on December 31, the engagement letter should be present in the provider's files prior to December 31. In the future, if a current audit is not presented and there is no engagement letter available, the provider may be subject to a sanction warning as described in DIDD policy #80.4.6 available here. Subsequent or repeat issues may create the need for further monetary consequences as outlined in the policy. For questions about this issue, please contact Laura Key, FAR Director at 615-651-1253 or

Employment Network: A capacity building session regarding Employment Network and Ticket to Work will be held December 16 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m at Workforce Connections in Knoxville (2247 Western Ave). The session will provide an overview of the Disability Employment Initiative grant, Ticket to Work and partnering with a workforce that has already become an Employment Network. Additional highlights will include:

  • What is the Disability Employment Initiative?
  • What is the Ticket to Work Program?
  • Who gets a Ticket? How do I know if one of my clients has a Ticket?
  • What is an Employment Network (EN)? What is a Workforce EN?
  • What services does an EN provide?
  • How much does an EN get paid and when?
  • What are the benefits of partnering with an EN?
  • What would the partnership look like?
  • Who would be responsible for what?
  • How do you get started utilizing the Ticket?

If your agency is interested in learning more about becoming an Employment Network and Ticket to Work, please RSVP to Amy Gonzalez at by December 6, 2013.

TennesseeWorks: The Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) funded TennesseeWorks Partnership met on November 8 to begin the second year of their work on Elevating Employment Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities. Statewide representation on the Partnership and its workgroups is comprised of various disability service providers, state agencies and advocacy organizations. The day began with presentations on the Community Conversations events and a preview of the next version of the TennesseeWorks website, expected to debut in early 2014. Rocco del Negro, a Publix employee in Nashville, also shared his employment success story. An overview of the planned second year's activities for the grant include:

  • Collaboration of work teams and communities to integrate resources, diversify input, and execute pilot training.
  • Analyze and adjust pilot training for state-wide training.
  • Evaluate progress, adjust trainings and set new benchmarks.
  • Analyze funding/legal/policy barriers then compare to other states in order to coordinate efforts with other grant recipients.
  • Inter-state collaboration of grant recipients work with legislators to revise policies.

If interested in learning more about the TennesseeWorks Partnership, please click here.

An Ounce of Prevention: This week's topic involves personal funds management. We would like to remind providers that when you serve as a person's Representative Payee, then requirements in DIDD's Personal Funds Management policy #80.4.3 become applicable. Per Section VI.C.d (3), a record must be kept for each person supported which includes supporting receipts for expenditures of $10.00 or more for purchases made by provider staff on behalf of the person supported.

One of the most common issues when personal funds are surveyed or audited is receipts that are simply missing. Other issues come into play when receipts are stored “loose” and/or purchases for more than one person are documented on the same receipt. When receipts cannot be located or traced back to a specific purchase or person, then the provider is obligated to repay the purchase amount to the person.

Having staff take time on a daily basis to ensure that receipts are properly accounted for and maintained, benefits persons supported as well as providers. For additional details and clarification, the entire policy can be viewed here.

DIDD Training Update: Several agencies have contacted the Relias help desk about training records that have not attached to staff user IDs. Please make a copy of the printed transcript file for staff affected by this issue and send it to the help desk. We will research our files to determine if the records attached to the wrong ID or investigate whether they transferred from the College of Direct Support (CDS) in the final sweep of records. We are working with Relias to ensure any completed courses with final test scores are credited properly. Please send these by December 2. It is the agency's responsibility to maintain training records, but we are committed to assisting you within these deadlines.

We are pleased to announce more training webinars will be offered next week. A general overview of Relias for training administrators and information on how to create classroom events and build rosters for instructors and administrators will be covered. Below, are dates and times:

November 20: 10:00 AM CST (11:00 AM EST) “Relias Overview”
November 20: 1:00 PM CST (2:00 PM EST) “Relias Overview”
November 22: 8:00 AM CST (9:00 AM EST) “Assembler Feature and Classroom Events”

Housing Inspections: Our Housing Inspectors continue to report an ongoing issue with windows in homes and apartments during initial and subsequent housing inspections. Windows and storm windows that are made to open must open and have the ability to stay open without a prop. This is a safety issue for the people we support as windows can be used as a means of egress from a building.

We continue to find that agencies who have maintenance personnel or agency Program Managers pre-inspect homes have a much higher rate of passing during the initial inspection than those that are not pre-inspected by someone knowledgeable about maintenance issues and/or rental property. Agencies can use the Housing Inspection Check List available on the DIDD web site here. If questions arise while viewing homes or apartments to rent, please feel free to contact your Housing Inspectors listed below:

Sandra Clamp

Ronnie Taylor
They will be happy to advise you regarding safety issues. Now that the weather is colder, it is also time to remember that all homes with gas service must have a working carbon monoxide detector. As a precaution, agencies might want to add checking the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to their monthly fire drill documentation.

clipRound-Up at the Fender Corral: On November 5, the cowboys from Newel were invited by Saprina Fender, Greene Valley's Family Nurse Practitioner, to a round-up at her farm. Events at Fender Farm that day included petting and grooming the farm's horses, as well as feeding them plenty of treats! Of course, the farm dogs weren't left out of the mix. The cowboys even had a visit from a cowgirl guest, Amy. The day's festivities concluded with a cookout, campfire and hot cocoa while the cowboys had a good old-fashioned sing-along with their friends. Twelve gentlemen were able to attend and a great time was had by all. Saprina has hosted many events for the folks who live at Greene Valley and we are all very grateful for her continued hospitality and care.

Project Titan Update: On November 20, DIDD's Chief Information Officer and Project Technical Sponsor, Russell Nicoll, will be speaking with the Tennessee Alliance of Support Coordinators (TASC) and also with the Tennessee Community Organizations (TNCO) Technology Committee to provide updates regarding the current project status.

As many of you are aware, DIDD will implement Project Titan in three phases: Service Planning, Service Tracking & Billing, and Protection from Harm. The first of these phases will be the Service Planning module, and implementation will take place either in late February or early March. As part of the Service Planning module, DIDD will implement a new electronic Individual Support Plan (ISP) process. During the initial rollout, the content of the ISPs will not be changed.

It is the department's intent to support existing processes that we have in place for the exchange of information between DIDD and providers, while offering new opportunities that providers may choose to take advantage of, depending on what makes sense for your agency. For example, with our current process, providers receive a paper copy of the ISP. In Titan, you can still receive a printed copy of the ISP in the same format that you would normally expect; however, providers will now also be able to either access the ISP online directly from Titan or import the ISP data directly into their own electronic systems.

By taking this approach, DIDD hopes to minimize any negative fiscal impacts that may occur within the provider community as a result of this systems implementation. We do, however, expect that ISC agencies will be impacted by the change to electronic ISPs, because they will be required to create the ISP electronically. We are currently working on a fiscal impact analysis to determine how these agencies will be affected.

Over the next several weeks, DIDD will be speaking with several provider organizations and will also begin scheduling additional informational meetings throughout each region. As a reminder, you can learn more about Project Titan on our website here or by e-mailing the project team directly at

Greeneville Focus Group: The next meeting will be held November 19 from 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. in the Greene County Skills conference room. Friends, support staff, advocates, ISCs and others are welcome. Discussions will focus on employment. Please RSVP by November 18 to or

Be safe and have a great weekend!