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April 20, 2012

Open Line

DIDD Team,

Hope everyone enjoyed their week.  Below, are various items I would like to share:

  • Legislative Update:  The Legislature will be taking up the Appropriations Bill SB 3768 / HB 3835 (the Budget) next week.  Both the House and Senate Finance Committees will take action on Budget Amendments.

    Senators Randy McNally and Jim Kyle, along with Representatives Kevin Brooks and Craig Fitzhugh have filed budget amendments in the amount of  $2,681,500 on a non-recurring basis in an effort to restore funding for the Family Support Program.

    HB 2363 / SB 2225 Licensure Bill, passed the Senate floor Monday, April 16th. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Calendar and Rules Committee next Tuesday and then is anticipated to move to the House floor Wednesday or Thursday.

    House and Senate Leadership are anticipating completing their work and adjourning this legislative session next Thursday, April 26th.   
  • West TN Visit:  This week, a few DIDD staff accompanied me to the West TN Regional Office in Arlington.  We met with staff and toured the West TN Resource Center.  We also visited a nursing home that serves class members in order to gain better insight on how we can collaborate with them to increase specialized services and work towards successful transitions into community services.
  • East TN Visit:  On April 18th, several staff and I visited Greene Valley Developmental Center, the East Tennessee Regional Office, and the East Tennessee Community Homes in Greeneville.  Staff discussions revolved around person-centered supports, transition planning, fiscal reporting techniques, and provision of services by the East Tennessee Resource Center.  It was a great visit.
  • Emergency Workforce Plan:  As Spring is typically the season where severe weather is most common, it is a good time to review emergency workforce disaster plans and ensure that contact lists are uto-date for communication with employees.  DIDD employees should provide a good phone number to their supervisor and human resources offices in case an emergency arises.  Instructions may need to be given on where and when employees are to report to work if the normal work site is not an option.  Each manager should have a call tree that employees should carry at all times.  Employees should also know who to call or whom to expect a call from in emergencies.
  • Employment Challenge:  Congratulations to Jennifer Aldrich, DIDD Day Services Coordinator for Middle Tennessee, for the Middle Tennessee Employment Challenge Kick-Off. Over ninety people gathered at the Northfield Workforce Development and Conference Center on April 19th to share best practices, network, and develop strategies for increasing the number of people who are employed.  Dr. Levi Harris, MTRO Regional Director, not only challenged the crowd to maintain Middle’s status as the employment leader of the three DIDD regions, but to become “the gold standard” in employment of Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We also extend our gratitude to the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance for hosting this event at Northfield.

  • Provider Manual:  Chapter 7, section 7.b. of the DIDD Provider Manual outlines the requirements for “Training Specific to the Needs of the Individual.”  It has come to the attention of Central Office that some clarification regarding this requirement is needed.  The intent of this training is for providers to have a mechanism to train staff and document that training about specific individual support needs for individuals they serve.  There is no requirement that limits the specific needs training to only what is written into a person’s ISP.  More than likely, there will be specific needs of every person supported that staff need training to understand that will not be part of an ISP.  There will also be information written in the ISP that should be part of “Training Specific to the Needs of the Individual.”  If there are further questions, please contact your regional staff development office.
  • Down Syndrome Study: Vanderbilt University is conducting a study and recruiting volunteers between the ages of 30-60.  The study is aiming to find out more about the development of Alzheimer’s disease in persons with Down Syndrome.  Please view attached flyer for additional information.
  • Toto-Bottom Review:  Senior management and key DIDD staff from across the state, gathered together this week to review our progress on the recommendations for improvement included in the Top to Bottom report that was submitted to the Governor.  We are happy to report we are on schedule for most improvement areas.  Our teams will continue to meet and monitor progress on a regular basis.  This opportunity allows for improved communication between program areas and enhanced collaboration.
  • Employee Recognition:  Bren Thompson, IS Manager 3, was recently recognized in Central Office for 43 years of state service and never using a sick day.  Congratulations Bren and we sincerely appreciate your hard work and dedication!
  • Position Appointments:  Michelle Smith has been appointed as Director of Quality Assurance for Middle Tennessee.  Michelle brings significant talent and expertise to this position.  She has worked for DIDD approximately fourteen years.  She first worked as a Quality Assurance Surveyor, and for the past eight years, has served as the Quality Assurance Coordinator for the Middle region.  If you wish to contact Michelle, her phone number is (615) 884-4311 or you may email her at Michelle.M.Smith@tn.gov


Kaye Littrell recently joined the West TN Regional Office as Administrative Services Manager
in our Arlington office.  She previously worked in the Central Office of Risk Management
where she functioned as an auditor.  In this position, Kaye will be managing agency billing, plans review, and appeals.  She may be reached at (901) 745-7701 or Kaye.Littrell@tn.gov.

Congratulations to both ladies and please join me in welcoming them to their new positions.


Have a great weekend!