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April 5, 2012

Open Line

DIDD Team,

Hope everyone had a nice week. Below, are various items I would like to share:

  • Autism Awareness Month:  Please join us as we work to raise awareness on this issue affecting many families. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Autism now affects 1 in 88 children. Little is known about the causes of Autism, but with increased attention, people can become actively involved in advocacy efforts. If interested, please contact local organizations and offer to donate or volunteer. You can also wear blue to show support. In fact, in observation of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd, blue lights shone on the state capitol. You can also contact legislators and ask them to vote on bills impacting persons with Autism. As with any issue, even the smallest contribution or effort, can improve lives. I encourage everyone to please show their support this month.
  • Retirement:  DIDD recognizes Bernice Swallows, Middle Tennessee Quality Assurance Director, as she retired effective March 30, 2012. Bernice has been employed by the Department for more than 30 years and served in several capacities, including Director of Nursing at Clover Bottom Developmental Center, before moving to the Regional Office. She has held her current position for eight years. The lives of many people in DIDD services have been enhanced and improved because of Bernice’s years of service. She looks forward to retirement and being able to sleep in, travel, and follow the Lipscomb University softball team as her granddaughter enrolls there next fall. Our gratitude and best wishes go with Bernice.
  • Employment Grant:  The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) of the U.S. Department of Labor has selected DIDD as one of three grantees to be designated as a Protégé State as part of the Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program (EFLSMP). Funded at $100,000, Tennessee’s proposal is grounded in strong collaborations between DIDD, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Department of Education, Department of Mental Health, Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Council on Developmental Disabilities, and other community partners. A special thank you to Julie Huber, Statewide Director of Day Services, for spearheading this effort. Competition was fierce and it took multi-agency collaboration to achieve this outstanding accomplishment.
  • Commissioner’s Roundtable:  This was recently created in order to solicit feedback and discuss ongoing issues pertinent to the Department. Eight to ten agencies will be invited statewide. The first meetings are scheduled for April 30th-May. Meetings for the East and West Regions will be scheduled at a later date.

Commissioner’s Luncheon

Commissioner’s Luncheon

  • Luncheon Pictures:  Last week, details of the March luncheon with persons served were highlighted. Attached, are a few pictures from that afternoon.
  • Middle Planning and Policy Council:  This meeting will be held April 20, 2012 in Nashville from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. CDT in the conference room of the Autism Foundation of TN (6515 Holt Road). It is open to the public, space permitting. If requiring ADA assistance, please contact Virginia Harris at (615) 231-5436.
  • Community Event:  New Horizons is hosting a live auction on April 26, 2012 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. Please view attached flyer for additional details.
  • Accreditation Initiative: The department is implementing a network accreditation initiative. Members of the department researched accrediting organizations throughout the United States with expertise in intellectual and developmental services and capacity for network accreditation. The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) was identified as the accrediting body with the requisite knowledge, skill, and credibility to partner with the department in achieving network accreditation. The department and CQL developed an accreditation work plan that provides the framework for activities beginning July 1 of this year through early 2015. In the future, the department will solicit input from key stakeholders such as persons served, their families, and providers, as it relates to system wide improvements and person centered excellence.
  • Provider Manual: The department has undertaken the herculean task of making substantive revisions to the provider manual. The department’s goal is to decrease the size of the manual by approximately 90%, meaning, from 552 pages to between  55 – 60 pages. Notwithstanding drastic cuts to provider manual content, the department shall continue to emphasize delivery of services and supports to persons served according to best practices (e.g., data driven outcomes) and person-centered principles. A work team comprised of department staff are already hard at work on this initiative. The department will solicit feedback from providers and other key stakeholders as appropriate throughout the process.
  • Innovations in Service Delivery: The department is actively pursuing innovative, effective, and cost neutral models for delivering services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Two (2) potential additions to the department’s service system are semi-independent living and intensive residential behavioral support. Recently, the department provided TennCare draft descriptions of each model. In the months ahead, the department will continue to refine each model to ensure the proposed services are consistent with best practices, are cost neutral, and meet the needs of persons served.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Jim

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