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Council News Updates

Supporting Families Community of Practice

cover of Breaking Ground magazine featuring 2 African-American parents and their 6 young children; text says Breaking Ground special issue Supporting Families in TN number 74 May 2014 TN Council on Developmental Disabilities

*Check out our new issue of Breaking Ground, dedicated to our Supporting Families Community of Practice!


The TN Council and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) were selected in 2013 to participate along with 6 other states, in a national ‘Community of Practice’,  to think, learn and strategize about the next generation of services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.


Participating states/districts in the "Supporting Families Community of Practice:

  • Tennessee
  • Connecticut
  • Oklahoma
  • Washington state
  • Washington D.C.
  • Missouri - the project's "mentor" state

  • The goal of this 5 year grant and initiative is to build capacity within states to create policies, practices and systems to better assist and support families that include a member with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan.


As this project moves forward, the Council and DIDD will be working together to educate Tennesseans about this major intiative and priority in our state. It is a priority for us to hear from family members, individuals with disabilities, and other advocates to inform our activities and priorities of this project. We are asking families and self-advocates to help us learn about the following...

    • What type of assistance from the state of Tennessee would be most helpful to your family?
    • How might the disability service system best serve families throughout the lifespan of their loved one with a disability, from birth through old age?
    • What should the disability service system of the future look like? What supports should be offered?


The Council and DIDD distribute a monthly e-newsletter highlighting different core values and concepts of the "Supporting Families" framework each month - you can sign up for that e-newsletter here or email to be added to our mailing list. Supporting Families circle graphic


More tools, resources and information related to the Supporting Families project:


You can also stay updated by "liking" the Supporting Families Facebook page, visiting the project's homepage and the Tennessee state page at or contacting the Council at 615-532-5368 or for more information.

Employment First Leadership Academy: deadline extended through July!

The Tennessee Employment First Leadership Academy is a 4-day training between September 4 and 8, 2014, created by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. This training prepares people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to advocate for better jobs and services options in Tennessee. We believe that people with disabilities should have real jobs with real pay, just like workers without disabilities.


Training includes:

  • Ways to improve job options for workers with disabilities
  • Ways to work and advocate with employers, the legislature and other groups
  • Finding ways to shift from segregated to integrated work settings
  • Learning about benefits and services offered by Social Security and other programs


To apply, you must be a person with an intellectual and/or developmental disability (I/DD), age 18 or older. Travel and lodging are fully covered for participants.


Click here to download an application.

For more information, email or call 615.532.6556.


2014 Update to the Council's State Plan

All state Developmental Disabilities Councils are required to develop five year plans that provide a framework for the Councils’ policy, program, and funding activities and priorities. The State Plan details the goals and objectives developed by the Council based on an assessment of disability services in the state.


This spring, TN reorganized the content of our 2011-2016 plan to reflect our primary areas of focus. This state plan is also more consistent with future reporting requirements at the federal level, by allowing us to capture both staff activities and project development activities.

  • We now have a state plan with five (5) goals, with objectives listed under each goal.
    • Goal 1: Leadership Development
    • Goal 2: Public Policy
    • Goal 3: Project Development, Management and Evaluation
    • Goal 4: Council Support and Administration
    • Goal 5: Public Information

To review the 2014 update to the TN Council's State Plan, click here.


Community Development Grant

The Council proudly announces the newly available Community Development Grant. This new fund, similar to our Education Travel Fund, is available to Tennesseans with disabilities and their family members. It provides assistance to visit and research innovative programs in other states. Upon their return, recipients may receive a small stipend to implement a Plan of Action for replicating and sustaining a similar program in their community here in Tennessee.

Click here to read the full program description with requirements and download an application. Please spread the word in your community about this new opportunity!


Project SEARCH Launch in TN

The Council is launching 9 new Project SEARCH sites in each of the state's development districts over the next few years to promote early employment experiences for students with disabilities.


The state kickoff event was held in November 2013 in Murfreesboro with Vocational Rehabilitation staff, Local Education Agency staff and DIDD provider staff from each region proposed for the first year of this new program. As of summer 2014, Metro Nashville/Davidson county and Memphis/Shelby County sites are set to begin enrolling students for job training in the fall of 2015. Plans for developing this program in Rutherford county and two additional sites across the state (to be determined) are also currently underway.


The Council’s Project SEARCH initiative targets students with intellectual & developmental disabilities in their last year of high school. Between 90 and 100% of the participants complete the program and are offered a job. The investment in students as they finish high school makes the most efficient and effective use of the student’s education and fulfills a business need in our communities.


To learn more about Project SEARCH or to view videos of students participating in Project SEARCH job sites, visit For more information about Project SEARCH in TN, contact Alicia Cone at or 615-253-1105.


Gov. Haslam's Executive Order on Employment for People with Disabilities

Read Governor Haslam's Executive Order encouraging the expansion of community employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Tennessee.

The order established an Employment First Task Force involving a variety of stakeholders, including the Council, to determine ways our state can begin to increase competitive and integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The task force began meeting in August 2013 and will submit a report to the Governor in Aug. 2014.



Special Report to the Community


View the Council's 2011-2012 Annual Report, which describes the purpose of the Council and the work that it does throughout Tennessee. Click here to view it as a PDF.