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January 10, 2014

Open Line

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

Titan Survey:  DIDD will be sending out a link to a very important survey for providers about Titan. There are several areas where it is critical that we gather information from providers in order to ensure a smooth transition from our current systems to Titan.  It is absolutely essential that providers fill out the survey, so we can obtain the proper amount of licenses for Titan users.  When you receive a survey, please complete it by January 24.

TennCare Medicaid:  As most of you are aware, effective January 1, TennCare applications are no longer processed through local Department of Human Services (DHS) offices.  Applications for TennCare Medicaid must now be submitted through the Health Insurance Marketplace at or by calling 1-800-318-2596.  After the marketplace reviews applications, they will inform TennCare of an applicant’s eligibility. 

For questions concerning the TennCare program, the state has also opened a new service center called Tennessee Health Connection.  Representatives are available for calls Monday through Saturday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. at 1-855-259-0701.  Inquiries can also be addressed to Tennesee Health Connection, P.O. Box 305240, Nashville, TN 37230.

West Director of Operations:  Please join me in welcoming Denise Kirk as the new Director of Operations for the West Tennessee Regional Office.  Denise has over 26 years of experience in the area of developmental and intellectual disabilities, including 18 years of progressive managerial experience.  Throughout her career, Denise directed the provision of residential services, quality assurance program design and implementation, day services, employment services, incident management, transitions and staff development.  She has also led an agency in obtaining Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accreditation and was instrumental in the initiative to implement an electronic record within a provider agency.  We are fortunate to have her as part of the DIDD team.  Denise can be reached at (901) 745-7701 or

Board Member Announcement:  Amy Gonzalez, DIDD State Director of Employment and Day Services, recently joined the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment (W.i.S.e.) as a Board Member.  W.i.S.e. is dedicated to promoting, creating and sustaining employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities in Washington State and the United States. They provide technical assistance, training, consulting, resource development, best practice demonstrations, data collection and dissemination to and for county and state government agencies, non-profit providers of service, professional associations, schools, employers, consumers of service and their families, advocacy organizations, faith communities and the community at large.

The department recognizes Amy as a strong proponent for our Employment First efforts that are widely recognized throughout the country.  We are certain W.i.S.e. is pleased to have Amy join their board and will benefit from her advocacy and experience.

Project SEARCH Knoxville:   The efforts of the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) to establish two adult model Project SEARCH sites in Knoxville are progressing toward a targeted February 3 start-up. Project SEARCH is a highly successful program model that provides a series of internships and vocational coursework to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at host employers. The goal is employment for each intern at the host employer or a network of community employers.

In late October 2013, Breakthrough Corporation on behalf of KAEC, was awarded a one-year $150,000 implementation grant from the Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee to establish two Project SEARCH sites in Knoxville. One site will be at The University of Tennessee Medical Center with Breakthrough serving as the operating partner. The other site will be at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital with the Cerebral Palsy Center of Knoxville serving as operating partner. The target population for these programs is people receiving DIDD community based day services who want to pursue employment. Each site will serve ten interns during a nine-month program cycle. Our department and the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) are supporting partners in the project.

The challenge of developing two Project SEARCH sites and completing a nine-month program cycle in one year has been overcome by the host employers excitement and the Knoxville employment community over this rich opportunity. In November 2013, Coordinator instructors were hired for each site. In addition, a Steering Committee for the project was organized and convened to include representatives from the two host hospitals, two operating partners, other DIDD provider members of KAEC, DIDD Regional Office staff, the DRS Regional Supervisor, Workforce Connections-Knoxville Career Center and the University of Tennessee Center for Literacy, Education and Employment.

The department views the Project SEARCH sites in Knoxville as an exciting new option for community based day services that leads to employment and an additional resource for the DIDD Employment First initiative.  We will continue to highlight Project SEARCH updates in the coming weeks.

clipSRVS Employment Success:  Eric Ryan and William Hunter started working at AutoZone in December 2013 as full-time employees at the  company’s fulfillment center.  Their job is to take AutoZone packages from the conveyor belt and sort and stack them onto different pallets which are headed for either ground shipment or next-day air.  They also shrink wrap the packages.  It did not take long for Eric and William to train for their jobs because they were able to transfer the warehouse skills they learned from working at SRVS Industries.  They are so excited about their jobs that they even arrive early to work.  “I got friends and I like having a good team to work with and a boss that cares for me and gives me instructions,” said William. 

Eric is also happy about his transition into community employment.  “I like it here, it’s more work to do and good people,” said Eric.  Fulfillment Center Manager Dennis Johnson expressed, “We are thrilled with them.  Their work ethic is impeccable! Before, our lines were full and now they are consistently empty.”  Johnson also said that Eric and William were eager to be included in the company’s activities and socialize with the entire staff.  Pictured above are Dennis, William and Eric.

The department is interested in hearing more integrated employment success stories, with integrated employment defined as competitive work for persons supported at minimum and competitive wages.  We will select some of these to share in future Open Line editions.  Please submit stories by January 22 to Amy Gonzalez at

New Provider Applications:  Effective February 1, DIDD will implement a revised process for accepting new provider applications.  Please note the Provider Expansion application process for current DIDD providers will not change.  Within the next few weeks, detailed information on “How to Become a Provider” will be posted on the DIDD website along with new provider applications. In February, DIDD will also conduct statewide Provider Forums for potential providers to share information and answer questions about becoming a DIDD provider.  Meetings are scheduled for February 3 (East Region), February 5 (Middle Region) and February 6 (West Region). Locations and meeting times are forthcoming. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Maurice, Provider Enrollment Coordinator at (615) 532-6568 or Tori Lindsey, State Director of Staff and Provider Development at (615) 741-6159.

Training Session:  The Work Incentives Counseling Initial Training Program will be held in Nashville, Tennessee from February 24 through February 28. To register, click here.   All community partners wishing to participate in a Work Incentives Counseling Initial Training session must register online using the link provided for the initial training sessions. Please note that submitting your online registration form for a particular initial training session does not confirm your participation in that training session. Instead, once registration is closed for a particular session, registration requests will be prioritized and all individuals will be notified via e-mail as to whether or not their participation in the requested session is confirmed. Upon registration confirmation, you will receive an e-mail providing detailed information on training session logistics. Any questions or support needs regarding registration for the Work Incentives Counseling Initial Training sessions can be directed to Julie Schall at (804) 827-0741 or

Accreditation Update:  The department’s decision to seek accreditation with The Council on Quality and Leadership|CQLdepends greatly on reliable data that identifies and measures personal quality of life as defined by the person. CQL has selected a representative sample of people who use waiver services for the purpose of being interviewed using the Personal Outcome Measures (POM) interview process.  CQL based their sample on the following data points: gender, age, rural or urban residence, type of services received, waiver type, use of psychotropic medications and region.  Thus, there will be more people in the sample from the statewide waiver, urban regions, etc.  Persons selected for the sample can choose to opt out of the interview.  However, we strongly encourage people to participate in order to ensure integrity of the sample and have an opportunity to learn more about how that person defines a quality life.

The majority of interviews will be conducted by CQL-certified DIDD accreditation team members.  A small percentage of interviews will be conducted by CQL quality enhancement staff.  Data collected will be analyzed to identify trends and opportunities for improvement at the service delivery or DIDD system level. Information from people using services is integral to the network accreditation process and used to assist Regional and Central Offices to select priorities and focus efforts in Person-Centered Excellence planning, which is the culmination of accreditation activities.

Notifications will be e-mailed to ISC/Case Management providers as well as the residential provider to let them know who they serve on the sample.  If there is no residential provider, the day provider will be notified of persons in the sample.  Individual DIDD accreditation team members will be contacting the person and provider agency to schedule an interview time and follow-up.  These interviews will begin as soon as possible, with notifications sent to identified participants by the end of next week. 

POM interview results will be shared with the ISC/Case Manager and upon request, with other service providers for their use as they see fit.  However, POM results are an excellent tool to use for planning when developing person-centered ISPs that have meaningful outcomes.

Should you have questions about this process, please contact Dana H. Scott at or (423) 787-6554.

Free Dispute Resolution Training:  The DIDD Office of Customer Focused Services is offering a 4-hour training in Dispute Resolution for DIDD stakeholders at no charge.  Trainings will be held January 22 (Memphis) and January 23 (Nashville), with a few openings remaining. If interested in more information about this training and possible CEUs, please contact Dr. Mike Mailahn, CFS Coordinator and Rule 31 Mediator & Trainer at (865) 321-2196.  

Greene Valley Philanthropy:  The Advisory Council for Greene Valley is involved in many philanthropic activities throughout the year, but this Christmas added yet another activity that helped our animal friends.  The Council chose to collect pet supplies for homeless animals in the local community.  When the collection period ended, bags of cat and dog food, pet toys, blankets, treats, collars, leashes and other supplies were delivered to the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society and Bright Hope Animal Rescue Center, both of which depend on donations for animals entrusted to their care.  Billy (pictured above) was excited about presenting donations to the Humane Society because he visits the adoption center from time to time.  While there, Billy enjoyed petting some of the cats and dogs.   We are very proud of the Advisory Council for organizing yet another project that is a benefit to many animals in need.

Provider Holiday Celebration:  Last month, MillarRich had their first annual Christmas party and it was a great success! With over 150 people in attendance, MillarRich worked closely with their families to ensure every person supported received a gift of their choice.  You can view their holiday celebration photos here

Employment Network:  A capacity building session regarding Employment Network and Ticket to Work will be held February 11 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m at Workforce Investment Network in Memphis (480 Beale Street). 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?
  • How do you get started utilizing the Ticket?
  • Benefits Planning Overview

If your agency is interested in learning more about becoming an Employment Network and Ticket to Work, please RSVP to Amy Gonzalez at by February 7.

TennesseeWorks:  On January 6, the TennesseeWorks Parent Coalition kick-off meeting was held in Memphis. The coalition’s initiative is to empower families of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to advocate for better services and outcomes regarding integrated and competitive employment. The core of the Tennessee Parent Coalition is a group of parents, family members and self-advocates who desire to overcome barriers and increase competitive/integrated work opportunities for persons with disabilities. Initial groups will begin in the Memphis and Nashville area with others added over time to represent families across the state. Support for the development of coalitions is provided by DIDD, Council on Developmental Disabilities, The Arc Tennessee and TennesseeWorks at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

If interested in obtaining additional information, please contact Sarah Harvey, Program Director for TennesseeWorks at (615) 322-4999 or

Focus Groups:  Various groups will meet this month and all are welcome to attend.

Nashville - January 21 from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in the basement of One Cannon Way at Clover Bottom Developmental Center.  Topics will include individual rights and sub-group/committee creations.

Memphis- January 15 from 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. at SRVS.  A program on employment opportunities titled, “I Want to Work” will be presented by WTRO staff Denise Kirk and Gary Smith.

Jackson- January 16 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the STAR Center.  Topics will include individual rights and sub-group/committee creations.

DIDD Training Update:  Relias Learning now has a share functionality available for all sub-portal agencies and is in final testing phases for hierarchy agencies on the main TN site. Relias conducted several webinars on the new share function in December and will continue offering those in January.  A recorded webinar on share functionality is available on the DIDD website here.  If you’re a sub-portal agency that still needs more information on rolling out share functionality information to your staff, please contact the Help Desk for a launch letter.  Large multi-region agencies with numerous training administrators should ensure each administrator becomes versed in the share functionality and views the informational webinars.

Relias is conducting the following webinars next week:

January 13: Overview of Share Functionality (10:00 a.m. EST/9:00 a.m. CST)
January 15: Administrator Functionality Overview (2:00 p.m. EST/1:00 p.m. CST)
January 17: Overview of Share Functionality (9:00 a.m. EST/8:00 a.m. CST)

Be safe and have a great weekend!