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March 22, 2013

Open Line

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

FY 2013-2014 Legislative Budget Hearings: On Wednesday and Thursday, my team and I participated in fiscal year 2013-14 budget hearings with members of the legislature.

To view the Senate Hearing on March 20, please visit:
http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/videowrapper/default.aspx?CommID=250  (click on Health and Welfare at the left of this page).

To view the House Hearing on March 21, please visit:
 http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/videowrapper/default.aspx?CommID=200  (click on Finance, Ways and Means at the left of this page).

The PowerPoint presentation may be viewed at: /didd/vault/vault/provider_agencies/resources/Budget_Presentation2013_5.ppsx

The bullet point list of DIDD’s many accomplishments in the last year that was discussed, is here.

I enjoyed discussing the details of DIDD’s budget proposal with members of the General Assembly.  This is my opportunity to communicate directly to the people’s elected representatives of how DIDD spends its funding and what we are doing to improve services at the lowest possible cost.  In addition, I was able to hear feedback from those members as to what is important in their communities. 

Based on that feedback from these two committee hearings, I feel confident that Governor Haslam has proposed a DIDD budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2013, that the legislature believes sets the right priorities for spending taxpayer funds.  I will continue to work with the General Assembly in the weeks ahead on any adjustments that may be proposed by the Haslam administration or by the legislature that may affect the DIDD budget.  I expect a final state budget will be adopted by the legislature in mid to late April.

clipDown Syndrome on the Hill Day:  Yesterday, I had the privilege of offering a few remarks at the Capitol by invitation of Representative Sexton, and Senators McNally and Massey.  It was a great event and I appreciated being able to speak with Alecia Talbott, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee (pictured on the right). For more information on the Down Syndrome Association, please visit  http://www.dsamt.org/.

DIDD Waiting List:  This week, the Arc Tennessee asked the legislature to consider allocating funding for enrollment of persons currently on the DIDD Waiting List.  Since it has been six years since funding was added to the DIDD budget to increase the number of persons accepted into waiver services, the need for services is critical.  I encourage you to contact your local legislator in support of this effort.  To locate your legislator, visit http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/.

Leadership:  To all graduates of Lead Tennessee, Tennessee Management Institute or Tennessee Education Institute: The State Leadership Council, overseen by Commissioner Rebecca Hunter of the Department of Human Resources, has been formed and we are looking for leaders to join committees.  The council’s purpose is to transform state government. Committees are titled Vision, Communication, Engagement, Systems Thinking, and Forward Focused.  We need your help to strengthen our mission which is to maintain great leaders and train the state’s future group of leaders.  If you are interested please, e-mail Tom O’Brien at Thomas.O’Brien@tn.gov or call 615-517-6088.

Person Centered Organizations:  The department continues work in Person Centered Organizations with revision to the training known as Person Centered Outcomes and Actions.  A committee of stakeholders has been meeting over the past few months to determine how to improve the results of the Person Centered Outcomes and Actions training.  Several recommendations have been raised by this workgroup and changes have been made to the training content.

We will announce in a future edition when the revisions will be final.  I think everyone will agree that our system is not quite where we all want to be in developing person centered outcomes in the ISPs of persons supported.  Since the outcomes listed in the ISP are key to supporting growth, improving quality of life, maintaining the things that work for people, and supporting people to become employed, this system has to continue to improve upon our efforts in the development of outcomes.  The department would like to thank the ISC and provider representatives who have contributed their time and talent to this vital initiative.  We look forward to the final product.

Atrocities Still Happening:  Please take time to view the following article at


As persons supported are especially vulnerable to maltreatment, it is imperative we continue to stay aware of the issues and risks facing those we serve.

60 Day Notices:  When providers determine they can no longer support a person in services, DIDD requires a 60 day notice of intent to discontinue supports.  The Provider Agreement is clear in that the provider must maintain current supports until a willing and appropriate provider is located.  As many of you know, this creates quite a challenge for providers as they must continue supports under circumstances that they have deemed objectionable.

I have been asked if the state can assume supports of a person for which a 60 day notice has been issued.  I have explored this option in an effort to assist providers and have found that the Medicaid Waiver oversight entity (DIDD) cannot provide direct services for people receiving services in the Medicaid Waiver.  Unfortunately, this is not an option in addressing this problem.
Should you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact Debbie Payne, Deputy Commissioner at 615-253-6885 or Debbie.Payne@tn.gov.    

Open SMART Job Plan Clinics:  DOHR is now offering weekly open SMART clinics at the James K. Polk Building (505 Deaderick Street, Training Room 2 on the 1st floor) in Nashville.  The clinics are designed for any manager and supervisor who would like help writing SMART plans.  They provide an opportunity to receive a streamlined approach to learning the skill of writing SMART job plans.  Managers and supervisors may also bring actual job plans and get coaching on how to make them SMARTer.  During March, DOHR is offering clinics every Tuesday from 8:30 am until 11:30 am and from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm.  In April, the clinics will be held on Thursdays.  There is an online registration process to sign-up for a clinic.  However, online registration is not required.  They will serve anyone who shows up. 

If you wish to register online, please visit:

Direct Support Professionals Association of Tennessee (DSPAT):  Do you know an exceptional Direct Support Professional?  If so, then nominate him or her for the DSPAT Above and Beyond Award!  The Arc Tennessee/DSPAT will award one $500 Above and Beyond Award to a deserving DSP at The Arc Tennessee award banquet on Friday, May 31, 2013 at the Nashville Airport Marriott Hotel.  To learn more about the award criteria and to download a nomination form, go to http://www.dspat.org/recognition.html

Parent Guardian Association (PGA):  This weekend, several family members of those living at Greene Valley and in the East Tennessee Community Homes (ETCH) met with the PGA Board members to discuss expanding the association to include the ETCH.  Those in attendance also took advantage of the opportunity to speak about such things as their satisfaction with the ETCH and Greene Valley, displeasure of the delay in building the last three community homes, and the ongoing importance of Greene Valley.
Most of the board members have loved ones residing in the ETCH, however, they remain committed to the future of Greene Valley and the services it will provide for intellectually and developmentally disabled persons.  A short history of the PGA was provided to the group, including the amount of support it has given to Greene Valley over the years.  
The proposal to merge the Greene Valley PGA with the ETCH was unanimously approved.  The revision of the bylaws will be discussed at the July PGA Board meeting, and an invitation will be mailed to all family members.

Transition from College of Direct Support to Relias/Essential Learning Systems Update:  As most of you are aware, we are transitioning from the College of Direct Support for web-based training to Essential Learning Systems.  Much work has been ongoing and continues as we move through this transition process. The upcoming change was introduced in provider forums in each region, webinars have been presented on ongoing basis and frequent contact with agency administrators is continuous. 

We want to thank all the participants who attended our training webinars that occurred this month. Six presentations occurred on System Overview and Creating Hierarchy, which are the first steps for organizing agency sites. Three webinars on the Bulk Down Load Spreadsheet training were presented this week by Essential Learning.  Any agencies who have not yet attended these webinars are reminded that a recorded version of these and many other training topics are available from Essential Learning any time at https://elconnect.essentiallearning.com/support/w/support-wiki/appendix-i-recorded-webinars-and -video-tutorials.aspx.

As you all know, in December of 2012 we announced that College of Direct Support, who had been our web-based training vendor since 2008, was being replaced by Relias/Essential Learning.  With any new contract there is a period of uncertainty but we assured you then that we would continue to use CDS during the transition so training would not be disrupted.  We recommended to all agencies that during the last quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 all learner transcripts in CDS be printed off and filed, and CDS training reports be run and filed to assure you have what you need for your records.  You will continue to have access to CDS to run these reports or transcripts through the end of May 2013.  Staff training records are the responsibility of each agency.

We are working with Relias/Essential Learning to download the active users and their training histories from CDS into Essential Learning to create worksheets for each agency.  These bulk download worksheets will be presented to training administrators of record for review and corrections hopefully in the next two weeks.

Our webinar training schedule for the coming week is as follows:

Monday, March 25: 11 AM EST/10 AM CST – Sub Portal Agency Administrator Kick Off/Training
Tuesday, March 26: 2 PM EST/1 PM CST – Adding & Enrolling New Hires to Elevate
Wednesday, March 27: 10 AM EST/9 AM CST – Adding & Enrolling New Hires to Elevate
Thursday, March 28: 1 PM EST/12 PM CST – Adding & Enrolling New Hires to Elevate
Monday, April 1: 10 AM EST/9 AM CST – Ask the Expert (Q & A all topics)
Monday, April 1: 2 PM EST/1 PM CST – Ask the Expert (Q & A all topics)

Providers will have the option to begin entering new learners in Essential Learning on April 1, 2013 but will not be required to do so until May 1, 2013.  CDS will be turned off June 30, 2013.

Our current projected timeline:

April 1: Date for any new agencies that were not using CDS to begin downloading staff lists presented on the Bulk Download format into Essential Learning so learners and admins can begin using the site for training.

April 1: Date those agencies who wish to begin enrolling new learners into Essential Learning system, can begin doing so. Work continues on bulk load spreadsheets for loading agency current user demographics, as agencies finish, EL will move learners into the Hierarchy folders created by the agency and agencies can begin using EL.  This step should be completed by all of the agencies who choose early entry by April 15, 2013.

Week of April 15-19:   Relias/Essential Learning Informational meetings across the state in preparation for a go live launch no later than May 1.  As which time  locations are finalized they will be announced.

April 30, 2013: Last date to enroll new users into CDS for any training to be completed before the end of June, 2013 (60 days). 

May 1, 2013:  Date all agencies must begin enrolling new learners into Essential Learning Systems.

If you have any questions, please contact Joyce Munda at 615-253-8338 or   Joyce.Munda@tn.gov.   

Sanctions Policy:  Last week, the department published its Sanctions (80.4.6) policy, along with an accompanying attachment, “Examples of Violations.”  For clarification, this policy supersedes only the sanctions section of P-003, Recoupments and Sanction.  We are currently in the process of developing a separate recoupment policy.  Until this is issued, recoupment procedures as outlined in P-003, must continue to be followed.

Departmental policies are published on our website at:

Tennessee Employee Discount Program:  Governor Haslam recently announced a new program developed through the Customer Focused Government initiative, titled “The State of Tennessee Employee Discount Program.”  For a list of available discounts, please visit http://tn.gov/employees/discount.shtml.