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June 21, 2013

Open Line

This week’s edition includes important information I want to share with you:

Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program (EFSLMP):  As part of our EFSLMP grant, DIDD has been provided with three Subject Matter Experts who are providing Technical Assistance to a couple of provider agencies within the state. On June 10-11, Nancy Gurney spent two days at SRVS in Memphis. Staff met with Nancy to discuss vital components needed for transformation from sheltered workshop settings to supported employment such as fiscal conversion, ideas for continued social interactions, referrals to the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), addressing barriers and staff concerns, job descriptions, accreditation, training, data collection, applying to become an Employment Network (EN) and Ticket to Work (TTW).  For more information on TTW, please click here. We are grateful to Ms. Gurney, SRVS, VR, and representatives from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development who shared valuable insight and information during the meetings.

Statewide Tennessee Employment Consortium (S-TEC):  On June 13, the quarterly S-TEC meeting was held at Clover Bottom in Nashville. Various entities attended and provided updates including the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Tennessee Works, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), and DIDD. Important discussion items centered on upcoming changes within the state regarding the focus for integration of community employment, abundant resources available on the Tennessee Works website, and a memorandum needed by DIDD to verify that DRS Supported Employment services have been accessed prior to Medicaid Waiver funding approval by DRS. Amy Gonzalez, State Director of Employment and Day Services, would like to thank everyone that attended and especially those representatives from provider agencies who traveled across the state to participate. Upcoming dates for the next quarter are being identified and will be sent to attendees within the next couple of months.

Waiver Roll-Out Meetings:  During the first week of June, regional roll-out meetings were held to discuss amendments to the state’s Home and Community-Based Services Waivers. The PowerPoint presentation delivered at the meeting can be accessed here.   The department is finalizing a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to be distributed at a later date.

The Arc US Participatory Action Research Award:   The Arc Tennessee’s People Talking to People (PTP) Project has won The Arc US Participatory Action Research Award.  This award recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of researchers who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and demonstrates the power of research coupled with self-advocacy. The People Talking to People (PTP) project assists DIDD with quality assurance and quality improvement by empowering persons supported to give honest feedback regarding the services they receive through participation in a survey.  John Blake, PTP interviewer, will be traveling to Bellevue, Washington in August to receive the award on behalf of The Arc Tennessee and PTP.  

One of the items that most impressed the awards committee was the PTP annual report completed by PTP’s Project Director, Frank Meeuwis.  His report demonstrates the power of data, how it can be used to identify potential problem areas, and make positive changes in a service delivery system.

“This national recognition certainly indicates that Tennessee’s choice to involve people with disabilities in the interview and data collection process for individuals receiving supports and services through DIDD is viewed as best practice in the field,” stated Carrie Guiden, Executive Director of The Arc Tennessee.

This award is a tremendous honor. Congratulations to The Arc Tennessee, Mr. Meeuwis, Mr. Blake, and everyone involved in this important project.  We’re certain Tennessee will be well represented at the ceremony in Washington.

Fiscal Accountability Review (FAR):  In a previous edition, we stressed the importance of providers meeting the requirement of obtaining an independent financial audit, if applicable.  Further specific information about this requirement and its applicability for providers can be found in Section A.10.(d) of the current provider agreement.  When a Fiscal Accountability Review (FAR) is conducted, one of the things that is reviewed is the independent financial audit.  The expectation is that the auditor or monitor will see a completed independent financial audit for the period ending during the review period. If one has not yet been completed for the period, the provider should present an engagement letter from the accountant who will be conducting the audit.

The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has guidelines concerning the timing of the engagement letter.  A provider should have the engagement letter available for review prior to the end date of the period of time that is to be audited.  For example, if the provider’s fiscal year ends on December 31, the engagement letter should be present in the provider’s files prior to December 31. In the future, if a current audit is not presented and there is no engagement letter available, the provider may be subject to a sanction warning as described in DIDD policy #80.4.6.  Subsequent or repeat issues may create the need for further monetary consequences, as outlined in the policy. You can view all departmental policies here.

For questions about this issue, please contact Laura Key, FAR Director at 615-651-1253 or Laura.Key@tn.gov.

An Ounce of Prevention:  This week’s topic has been addressed in prior editions, but it impacts so many providers and persons supported that it is worth repeating. The topic is the advancement of funds to a person by a provider who serves as that person’s Representative Payee.   Personal Funds Management policy #80.4.3 addresses this practice in section VI. B.8.

Some common clarification requests involve the following issues.  Please note that:

  • The Representative Payee is not obligated to advance funds to a person.  If the provider choses to do so, written policies and procedures must be in place.
  • Repayment of any advanced funds by the person is not automatic or a given. Some providers choose to write off advances at the end of their fiscal year and this is an acceptable accounting practice.
  • A critical requirement comes into play when a provider advances funds and does expect repayment from the person at a later date.  In some cases, when the   funds were advanced, a written agreement was not prepared or signed.  In these situations, a signed written agreement which describes the current payment expectation must be completed as specified in the policy.
  • And finally, the phrase “if applicable” is included in the clause dealing with repayment plans because each conservatorship is specific to the person and his or her needs. The conservatorship document must indicate that the conservator has authority to make decisions in financial matters and enter into an agreement on the person’s behalf. 

This also applies to other financial transactions.  It is not uncommon for a person’s ISP to have statements to the effect that his or her conservator must be contacted before payments greater than a set amount are made from his or her account.  As with repayment plans, these types of statements should not be part of an ISP unless the conservatorship document indicates that the conservator has authority to make decisions in financial matters.

DIDD Training Update:  Today is the last day that the College of Direct Support will be available to all learners and administrators for any reporting, training, or transcripts. Relias has also announced that they will be unavailable June 22 and June 23 due to an upgrade of their learning management platform (RLM).  When you log in June 24, the look of the screens will be changed, but webinars conducted this week provided an overview of these changes. Next week, additional webinars will provide demonstrations on Relias’ improved functionality.  The schedule is listed below:

June 24: “Supervisor Overview of new RLM”  (1:00 PM CST/2:00 PM EST)
June 25: “Supervisor Overview of the new RLM” (9:00 AM CST/10:00 AM EST)
June 26: “Supervisor Overview of the new RLM” (10:00 AM CST/11:00 AM EST)
June 27: “Sub-Portal Administrator on the new RLM” (2:00 PM CST/3:00 PM EST)

Over 130 agencies have completed their learner downloads via the bulk download process and received launch materials for introducing staff to the system.  Click here  for resources that can assist you with letting staff know about upcoming changes to the look of Relias’ web training product.  There is an introductory learner video, administrator video and a new electronic user manual.

As previously announced at the roll-out meetings in April, the department would like testing done in the new Relias system.  The old DIDD curriculum for classroom training has been replaced by the current crosswalk of Relias courses which can be printed from the Relias system for use in a classroom setting.  Therefore, DIDD will no longer provide train-the-trainer certification for the old content.  Additionally, for those organizations who select to use Relias’ system for some or all of their classroom training, the trainer is required to complete their own training in the web-based program to become familiar with the curriculum and audio/video components. 

The department is exploring public access computer options such as Tennessee Career Center computer labs, public library computer labs, schools, DIDD computer resources, and other provider agency resources in an effort to help agencies get greater access for testing online.  Agencies that have concerns or limited technological resources for utilizing the Relias system web-based testing of lessons in the classroom setting, are requested to contact Richard Shelton, Director of Staff and Provider Development, at Richard.Shelton@tn.gov to discuss creative solutions. 

We are currently collecting information for the Fiscal Impact Report to be provided to sub-committees of the state legislature.  There are many positive aspects and a great deal of flexibility in our plan for administrating this unique training program.   We’re also interested in receiving positive feedback regarding savings, portability, 24/7 access and access from multiple locations.

Please contact Richard Shelton regarding these matters.  It would be helpful if you included Relias/Essential Learning System in the subject line. Your attention to these matters will be most appreciated.

Linda Maurer Award:  Annually, the Tennessee Alliance of Support Coordinators (TASC) recognizes a Support Coordinator in each grand region of the state who demonstrates excellence in the practice of independent support coordination (ISC) services for persons enrolled in the state’s HCBS waiver programs.  This award is established to honor the legacy of the late Linda Maurer, former Executive Director of Neighborhood Network, Inc.  TASC will be accepting nominations for this award from July 1 through August 31. To submit nominations or for more information about the award, please click here.

Office of Incident Management:  As a reminder, the Office of Incident Management has created a new DIDD Incident e-mail address for providers to use when submitting a Reportable Incident Form, as required in Chapter 18 of the Provider Manual.  Effective July 1, providers must e-mail Reportable Incident Forms to DIDD.Incidentmgmt@tn.gov.
The DIDD Incident e-mail address on the online version of the Reportable Incident Form will be updated with the new address. Changes to the form will take effect July 1, 2013. If you have questions, please contact Kenneth Binion, Director of Incident Management, at Kenneth.Binion@tn.gov or 615-253-2896.