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March 8, 2013

Open Line

This edition of Open Line includes important information I want to share with you:

Citizens Plaza:  As most of you are now aware, DIDD is temporarily housed at the Frost Building until we move to our permanent location in Citizens Plaza.  The projected move date is September 6, 2013.  I will continue to keep everyone apprised of updates as I receive them.

Developmental Disabilities Month:  In 1987, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed March as “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.”  Please join us as we work to raise awareness about challenges still facing persons with developmental disabilities as they strive for full inclusion into society.  Be actively involved in your community and support events that involve persons with disabilities.  Another way to demonstrate your support is to contact local agencies and inquire into volunteering opportunities.  We have come a long way in the fight for equal opportunities and rights for persons supported, but there is still much work to be done.  Any contribution makes a positive difference.  For more information on Developmental Disabilities month, please visit The Arc’s blog at http://blog.thearc.org/tag/developmental-disabilities-awareness-month/.

Family Model Residential Services:  I would like to invite comments on an initiative we are undertaking to review and evaluate Family Model Residential Services.  We will be addressing issues such as Quality Assurance guidelines, monitoring, and supervision requirements, number of people living in the home funded or unfunded, status of conservatorship, representative payee and other factors that impact the delivery of this model of services for people with intellectual disabilities.  

The department has a workgroup addressing FMRS that is tackling a number of issues related to this service.  I am asking them to broaden the scope to address the above listed concerns.  Provider representation on this workgroup includes Tennessee Family Solutions, Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Arc of Davidson County, Omni Visions, D & S Residential Services, Greene County Skills, and MillarRich.  If you are interested in providing comments or participating with this workgroup, please contact Barbara DeBerry, DIDD State Director of Residential Services at 615-253-6888 or Barbara.DeBerry@tn.gov

Employment First Update (Tim Harris, Owner and Employee of Tim’s Place):  As the department continues to operationalize the components of our Employment First initiative, it is easy to get caught up in the details of that process.  The sterility of forming, refining, aligning, and promoting the policy and processes that will allow us to reach our Employment First goals can, at times, distance us from the origin of our intent.  While inspiration is often an easy find for most of us in the faces of those we support, in the testimonials of families who have been touched by the dedication of that special staff person, and even in the small but essential gains we notice in our work, it is important for each of us to take time to relish in the accomplishments of others.  It is with this in mind that I invite you to meet Tim Harris.  Tim is the owner and operator of Tim’s Place in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Please take time to view the following video at http://on.aol.com/video/youve-got-breakfast--lunch--and--hugs-517673454.  This video speaks for itself so I’ll not attempt to further capture its essence in word.  Rather, I implore you to revisit the inspiration that drives each of us in our collective desire to ensure the people we support achieve all that they seek.

Clover Bottom Families Meeting:  On March 2, many families of the people residing at Clover Bottom braved the snowy weather in Nashville to meet with Dr. Stacey Dixon, Chief Officer, Darla Goad, Director of Residential & Case Management, and CBDC case managers, Elease Jenkins and Angela Baird.  Dr. Dixon shared information and answered questions about planned changes to daytime activities and updates on the status of the construction of the Middle TN Homes.  In preparation for the transition to community homes, each person’s Circle of Support met to develop daytime activities that can go with the person into their community life.  For example, some people continue to work, some attend community centers (such as Fifty Forward) part of the week, some go to community-based activities all or part of each day, and some have chosen to participate in day activities at Evergreen Life Services or The Rochelle Center.  Families were encouraged to visit and participate with people during these activities.  Having a new daily routine start now will make transitions to new homes over the next year a smoother experience.  Four of the future Middle Tennessee Community Homes are under construction, with five more expected to undergo groundbreaking this spring.

Middle Tennessee Community Homes Progress:  Recently, the state purchased an additional tract of land on Earhart Road in Hermitage.  This tract has over 360 feet of road frontage.  We intend to divide the tract to accommodate two ICF/IID homes as part of the nine planned state-operated Middle Tennessee Community Homes.  The notice to proceed was issued to the designers this week to begin the project.  Each home will consist of four bedrooms and a total living space of 2,800 square feet.     

Spread the Word to End the Word:  A nationwide campaign is underway to prevent use of the “R” word in everyday conversations and societal contexts.  Jill Turpin, DIDD employee, recently shared a WBIR-TV Knoxville news story highlighting this important cause.  In the video, Jill’s nieces and sister are being interviewed.  Jill’s niece initiated the campaign at Farragut High School.  You can view the story at


Loaned Executive Comment:  Last month, we missed the opportunity to hear from Sharon Perry, Executive Director of West Tennessee Family Solutions, concerning her experience with the Loaned Executive Program.  Sharon visited Central Office on February 11 and 12.  Ms. Perry stated, “I came away from my loaned executive experience at DIDD with a new appreciation for our leadership.  Commissioner Henry and his team are getting it right.  I felt a pervasive attitude of responsiveness, openness, and flexibility throughout the department.  Many thanks to all of the Central Office staff for their hospitality.”

Accreditation Update:  The DIDD Accreditation Team has reached a significant milestone.  They have completed all three certifications needed to move to the next phase in accreditation.  Each team member plus one QA and one PCP staff is now certified to facilitate the four-day Personal Outcome Measures Workshop, conduct Personal Outcome Measures Interviews, and conduct validation reviews of the Basic Assurances Self Assessments.  For the remainder of 2013, the team will engage in spreading the training as far across the provider network as possible.  In 2014, the official accreditation sample of providers and people using services will be determined and the team will collect data from that sample in order to review our system.  Please contact Laura.Doutre@tn.gov  to take advantage of training opportunities.

DIDD Training Update:  Online training changes are coming.  Thanks for your input from the surveys collected a few weeks ago.  Agencies that plan to use a lot of agency-specific trainings will be contacted directly by Essential Learning for webinar training on how to set up your own portal site within Tennessee’s system.  Those smaller agencies and independent contractors who don’t need that capability will be arranged under the state hierarchy similar to the “department set up” currently used with CDS.  Essential Learning is offering live training webinars all next week for your training administrators.  Invitations will be sent from the regional offices for webinars each day next week at various times of the day to accommodate your schedules: 

March 11 at 1:00 p.m. CDT (2:00 p.m. EDT)
March 12 at 9:00 a.m. CDT (10:00 a.m. EDT)
March 13 at 11:00 a.m. CDT (12:00 p.m. EDT)
March 14 at 2:00 p.m. CDT (3:00 p.m. EDT)
March 15 at 10:00 a.m. CDT (11:00 a.m. EDT) 

Don’t forget the change to daylight savings time this weekend.  Please continue to use the links for Essential Learning recorded trainings at

http://elconnect.essentiallearning.com/support/w/support-wiki/elevate-how-to-manual.aspx (Essential Learning Manual)

The last day to enroll a new learner into CDS is planned for April 1, 2013.  This will give learners until April 30, 2013 to finish training assigned in CDS now through April 1.  On April 2, new hire learners will be enrolled using Essential Learning, so it is imperative that you enroll in upcoming webinar trainings mentioned above.  The historical download of all training records into Essential Learning from CDS will happen later in April, but there may be a short time when paper transcripts will be the only way to view web-based learning histories.

We are requesting volunteers to review course materials in the Essential Learning system.  If interested, please contact your regional office global web training administrator or Joyce Munda at Joyce.Munda@tn.gov.

Project Titan Regional Kick-Off Meetings:  We want to take this opportunity to thank all of the participants from our Regional Kickoff Meetings for Project Titan.  We apologize for the technical issues that may have prevented some attendees on our web meeting in the East Region from hearing the full presentation.  We were able to record both the staff and provider sessions in the Middle Region, and we are working to publish those meetings on our website for anyone that may have missed the presentations.  We will include a link to these recordings in next week’s edition. 

During these meetings, we discussed some of the driving factors for the project as well as the project goals and objectives, and the how this project could impact both staff and providers.  In the next two weeks, we will be sending out a follow up survey to solicit feedback on the meetings and to help us better direct future communications related to the project.  As we mentioned during the meetings, the participation of our Regional Staff and provider agencies is essential to the success of this project effort.  We hope that these meetings were beneficial to you as well, and we look forward to working closely with many of you as we move forward.

As a reminder, anyone wishing additional information related to Project Titan can contact the project team using the DIDD.Titan@tn.gov e-mail address.  Copies of the PowerPoint presentation used during these meetings can be viewed at http://www.tn.gov/didd/vault/TITAN/TITAN.shtml.