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May 18, 2012

Open Line

DIDD Team,

Below, are various items I would like to share:

  • Central Office Move:  DIDD Central Office was recently notified by the Department of General Services they will move from the Andrew Jackson building in downtown Nashville to Citizens Plaza on the 9th and 10th floors.  No move date has been scheduled and further details will be shared as we receive them.

  • Statewide Tour:  As part of an incentive to raise awareness of persons with disabilities and recognize outstanding contributors in our community, I will begin visiting agencies and the media statewide, starting next week at Prospect, Inc. in Lebanon, TN.  With the challenges currently faced by our Department, it is my goal to encourage citizens in the community to support exemplary agencies providing services to persons with disabilities.  Whether it’s through fundraising efforts, donations, or volunteering, the smallest amount of attention has the potential to impact lives in a positive way.

    Not only are we striving to enhance community support, but it is important and necessary to recognize citizens who have gone above and beyond to ensure those we serve have a better quality of life.  Often, this entails using their own resources or applying for grants to implement services.  It is through this dedication, time, and never-ending persistence, that help persons served realize their dreams.  The truth is, the number of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities far outweighs available funding.  As disheartening as this is, we must continue efforts to recognize positive community contributions and the differences made in people’s lives.  All visits and discussions will be highlighted in future editions.  
  • Reminder: Investigation Reports and Confidentiality:  DIDD investigations are highly confidential.  The information contained therein is property of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and is not to be disseminated or duplicated.  It is common for providers to be approached by families, conservators, advocates, labor boards, other investigating entities (APS, CPS, local law enforcement), unemployment offices, attorneys, and other such entities, requesting information about the investigation itself or for a copy of the final investigative report.  Providers are strictly prohibited from releasing any information around DIDD investigations or the report itself.  The Department manages such requests and cooperates whenever possible to relay information that may be needed.  As such, any request for a copy of a DIDD investigation, or information regarding its content, should be forwarded to DIDD Central Office, Dennis Beard, Investigations Special Services Coordinator.  He can be contacted by e-mail or phone at Dennis.Beard@tn.gov or (615) 532-6549.


  • Scholarship:  Dr. Modell, along with co-author, Marcie Davis, recently published a short book for educators titled: Protecting Students with Disabilities from Sexual Assault: An Educator’s Guide.  Attached, is a copy of the PDF book.In addition, Dr. Modell has been invited to present a keynote address for the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs 2012 Conference on Crime and Victimization on May 31st where he’ll present a paper titled, “Communication and Behavior: It’s Impact on Responding to Crime Victims with Disabilities.”  He recently provided a training to police officers and investigators for the Albuquerque Police Department on “Disability Abuse and Victimization,” by invitation of the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.
    Protecting Students with Disabilities from Sexual Assault: An Educator’s Guide (PDF)

  • SMART Performance Evaluation System:   Congratulations! DIDD has approximately 95% of managers and supervisors trained in developing and writing SMART job plans for employees.  This year, by June 30th, every employee including executive service, must have a SMART job plan in place.  In addition, DIDD has chosen to educate every non-supervisory employee on the SMART job plan concept and we are well on our way to having this accomplished.  Having everyone trained and educated in this new endeavor will ensure better understanding of expectations and opens the door for better communication between supervisors and employees.


  • Appropriate Terminology:  Rosa’s Law was signed by the President more than a year ago and replaced the outdated term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.”  Tennessee passed similar legislation; however, this term has not disappeared.  We hear the old term is used because it is still the medical diagnosis in the International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition (ICD 9) and in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR).  The old term will disappear in the next edition of both medical diagnostic manuals.  As a Department, we should be leading the way in eliminating any negative image of people with disabilities, including language.  Dr. Cheetham informed me “intellectual disabilities” is the term now being used in the medical arena despite it not yet being official.  Therefore, I want all of us to actively eliminate the previous term and consistently use “intellectual disability” or “intellectual disabilities.”

  • Commissioner’s Roundtable:  The first roundtable is scheduled for May 23rd- 24th, where I’ll meet with a group of providers to solicit ideas for improvement and how we can better serve persons with our resources.  Subsequent meetings will be scheduled in each grand region.


  • Regional Agency Teams Realignment:  It is widely recognized there is a strong need for consistency across regions in our interactions with the provider community.  As a result of the regional ToTo-Bottom Review, the need to realign Agency Team functions is apparent.  Debbie Payne, Deputy Commissioner of Program Operations, is leading a major initiative to examine Agency Team processes and restructure teams into the following four primary categories: Regional Accreditation Team, Quality Assurance Support Team, Person-Centered Practices Team, and a Licensure Team, with an expected implementation date of July 1st.  This week, meetings were held with Middle and West regions to discuss impending changes.  Discussion with East region is scheduled for May 29th.  We will continue to keep everyone apprised of all efforts as we move forward in this process.

  • National Women’s Health Week:   As last Sunday was Mother’s Day, please join me in recognizing this important week.  A yearly observance by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, this year’s theme is “It’s Your Time.”  If interested in further information and finding local events, please visit: http://www.womenshealth.gov/whw/.


  • Changes to Billing Process and Increased Billing Frequency:  Last week we announced the proposed changes to the billing process which will allow providers to receive payments twice a month.  DIDD continues to move forward with this effort.  The details of this announcement can be viewed from the DIDD website at the following link: http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/newsroom/OpenLine/OpenLine_051112.shtml.  Additional details regarding these proposed changes will be communicated in the coming weeks.

  • Project Titan:  DIDD is currently engaged in the development of a project proposal to address issues with the Department’s aging and outdated computer systems, including the Incident & Investigations database.  This effort, known as Project Titan, will seek to replace these computer systems with a single integrated database solution, built upon a common and flexible framework in order to ensure a seamless integration and the ability to easily expand based on the changing needs of the Department.  In the initial phase of Project Titan, DIDD plans to achieve two main objectives: 1) to establish the necessary infrastructure and common framework needed to support a single integrated application system; and 2) to deploy the first modules of the new application, which will replace DIDD’s current financial applications (CS Tracking, Provider Claims Processing, and PTABS), the Incident & Investigations system, and establish an electronic Individual Support Plan.  The project proposal and cost benefit analysis has been completed and was submitted this week to the Information Technology - Assessment & Budget Review Committee (IT-ABC), within the Department of Finance & Administration.


  • Statewide Planning and Policy Council:   The Statewide Planning and Policy Council, along with the chairperson of the developmental disabilities council and the three regional councils, met this week and provided their first round of recommendations to DIDD.  Recommendations dealt with services for the self-determination waiver that is currently under review by the department and TennCare as we prepare to submit a waiver renewal application to CMS to continue it.  We welcome any comments you may have on the following recommendations:

•     The Council recommends that preventative vision, dental, and hearing services be accessible for    waiver participants through TennCare or the waiver.

•     The Council recommends that DIDD revisit the annual and within-three-years caps on dental services to determine if they are still at appropriate levels.

•     The Council recommends that the annual cap of 243 days per year for day services be removed. Day services would have a monthly cap that equals the total number of weekdays in each of the twelve months that could be used.  In addition, the day service hours would not be limited to Monday through Friday, but could be utilized on weekends as well to best meet the needs of the individual.

The Council also had some language suggestions for the self-determination service definitions that they are going to compile and submit to the department.  Please send any comments you may have to Diana.Davis@tn.gov.  It was a very productive meeting and next, the councils will turn their focus to the FY 13 – 14 budget that DIDD will draft over the summer.

  • Open Line Correction:  In last week’s edition, it was noted the Arc of Davidson County trained 100% of their ISCs in Person-Centered Thinking.  In fact, all ISCs have been trained for some time.  The Arc of Davidson County has 100% of their staff trained.  We apologize for the error.