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August 16, 2013

Open Line

August 16, 2013

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

Provider Grant Opportunity: The department intends to award grants for participation in the DIDD Employment First initiative for up to five (5) program participants. The purpose of the grant is to increase the number of people with disabilities in obtaining integrated employment. The deadline for application submissions to DIDD is August 30. On September 13, evaluation notices will be released. The department intends to enter into grant contracts for a period of six (6) months, with an expected effective period of October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. The maximum award per grantee is $10,000 and the grantee will justify they have taken the proper steps to become an Employment Network, attend Certified Benefits Counseling Certification training and are accredited in an employment area from a qualifying accreditor.

All communications in reference to the notice (available here) shall be directed to Debbie Dunn at the address below:

Debra Dunn, Director of Contract Services
Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Frost Building, 2nd Floor
161 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Telephone Number (615) 253-6812
Fax Number (615) 253-6713

Applicants must also ensure that the State receives all written comments, including questions and requests for clarification no later than August 22 as outlined in Section B of the notice titled: Schedule for Grant Application, Evaluation, and Award.

Wellness Initiative: This month, the State of Tennessee is kicking off a new wellness initiative called Working for a Healthier Tennessee. The goal is to create a healthy workplace and lead the way towards a healthier state. As part of this initiative, DIDD staff would like to take part in wellness activities that may be held or sponsored by provider agencies such as 5ks. At this time, DIDD would like to ask provider agencies to please inform Sherrie Artman at  of any wellness activities that you have scheduled in which DIDD staff may participate. While staff may not be able to participate in all wellness activities held or sponsored by provider agencies, DIDD would like to participate whenever possible.

Community Conversations: On August 1, a Community Conversation was held in Memphis at SRVS. Planning committee members Jenness Roth and Mary Ellen Chase facilitated the event and helped the attendees explore innovative solutions to issues concerning disability and employment. The Memphis community was well represented with over 90 people from various walks of life participating in the activities. Community Conversations are geared towards business, government, and employment leaders, disability service providers, non-profit organizations, faith communities, and persons with disabilities and their families.
Three more Community Conversations like the one in Memphis will be held this fall. A Community Conversation will be held in Murfreesboro on August 26, in Chattanooga on September 9 and in Greeneville on September 26.
Community Conversations are facilitated through the AIDD TennesseeWorks grant at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. If you would like to participate in an upcoming event, please contact Sarah Harvey at

Payment Reconciliation Reports: The DIDD Office of Business Services (OBS) would like to remind our provider agencies about the reports available for them to reconcile their payments and the importance of accessing electronic reports within the time period they are retrievable.

For the Medicaid Waiver-funded claims, paid directly by TennCare, providers receive a remittance advice (the official version) by mail from TennCare. For convenience, DIDD e-mails an Adjudicated Claims Report (ACR) in an Excel format. Our goal is for providers to receive both reports within a few days of the payments. Some of our provider agencies also perform services that are not funded by the Waiver programs. After claims for these state services have been reviewed by OBS, they are processed and payments are made directly by DIDD. In this case, an ACR is done in Adobe (the official version) and in Excel for their convenience. Our goal is for providers to receive these reports within a few days either before or after payment. ACRs are e-mailed to the one address that the agency has designated for that purpose. OBS recommends that agencies use a generic e-mail that can be accessed by more than one person in your office.

It is very important to remember that if you want to use these reports, please retrieve them within 14 days of receiving the notification and save to your computer. If they are not retrieved within that timeframe, they are no longer available.

ClipMemorandum of Understanding Re-Executed: This week, I had the pleasure of meeting with Disability Law and Advocacy Center (DLAC) Executive Director Lisa Primm and her staff to re-execute the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between our agencies. The MOU centers around both Protection from Harm and programmatic areas important to all of us who strive to make Tennessee an even better place for the persons we support. I look forward to continued collaboration with such a valued partner agency who works daily to create equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Family Support Program: This week, additional Family Support staff commented on what has kept them working with the program for many years.

"The reason I have been with FS forever is because of the families. They have no other resources and yet they only take what they need, and then tell me to give the rest to someone else who needs it more. How can you not love a job with those perks?" (Karen Shirk, Cerebral Palsy Center-Knoxville)

"This has been the ‘dream job’ for a social worker’s heart to be able to assist people with so much need with a little bit of support that truly goes such a long way. I have been so grateful to have a job that makes me feel so warm inside when I see a mother’s face of relief when I say ‘Yes, I think we can help you with that!’ I have heard on the phone so many of our individuals burst into tears of joy when I tell them about what this wonderful program could do for them, and we are offering the help that they need. I have been hugged so very many times that just the thought of what this program has enabled me to do makes me feel good all over. I could not think of any job that I would enjoy any more than this one. I feel privileged to have worked with so many people who enable individuals with disabilities to live in their own homes for as long as they are able" (Nancy Vanderlan, Emory Valley Center)

"I have stayed in the FS Coordinator position since forever because I see what an impact this program has every day on the lives of people served. I often hear ‘This is the only program that has ever helped me.’ I like being able to see that what I do does make a difference and hopefully helps keep families together in their own homes and communities" (Vickie Winstead, Pacesetters, Inc.)

East Region Employment Consortium: On August 13, the East Region Employment Consortium (EREC) was held in Knoxville. Topics centered on how agencies are facilitating Discovery to find jobs for their clients and additional activities that foster career exploration such as job clubs and volunteering. Additional items of discussion included barriers to employment and how we can work together to find solutions, as well as applications to become an Employment Network (EN) and how agencies can generate revenue once they become an EN.

National Association for Dual Diagnosis (NADD) Conference: A reminder the Tennessee Chapter of NADD will hold its annual conference on August 29 and 30 at Century Place in Nashville. The name of the conference is Achieving the Dream: Interdisciplinary Treatment Approaches and it will feature presentations on the topics of sexuality for persons with ID, capacity to consent, treatment of persons with severe behavioral health disorders, risk assessment, inter-agency collaboration during crises, emotional intelligence, mindfulness techniques for self-calming, and ethics. The program also features a complete track for direct support professionals that will include training in understanding developmental and diagnostic influences on behavior, practical behavior management, decreasing reportable incidents, and working as a team. Leslie Walker-Hirsch is this year’s keynote speaker and Dr. Bruce Davis is a featured speaker at the conference. For further conference details, please click  here.  

ClipEmployment Success Story: True success is earned not given and Michael Spinler is an example of the great success that can be achieved with hard work and determination. In April 2012, Michael reached out to St. John’s Community Services to assist in finding gainful employment.

On June 15, 2012, Peggy Robinson, Save-A- Lot Store Manager, hired Michael to be a stocker for the grocery store located in Martin, Tennessee. Michael began working an average of fifteen to twenty-five hours a week at the store and began making new friends. A month into his job, Michael encountered personal circumstances that limited his hours and placed him in jeopardy of losing his position at the store. St. John’s Community Services diligently worked with Michael and Peggy to overcome the obstacles he was facing on the job, and a year later we are able to share his success story.

Michael worked hard to prove himself and to gain the trust of Peggy over the next several months. As he did, Michael saw his hours increase and he was given more responsibility around the store. In April 2013, Michael received a promotion from Stocker to Produce Manager which proved to be beneficial not only for Michael but to Save-A-Lot as well. He viewed his new position as not only a job, but rather as an opportunity to develop a career. Michael took the produce department to new heights by increasing the overall sales and profits of the store by three percent. Michael takes pride in placing all the orders for the produce department and ensuring it always meets the highest quality of standards for his customers. Michael now works an average of forty-five hours a week and has the opportunity to participate in Save-A-Lot’s benefits package which includes a profit sharing program for employees.

Peggy stated, "I don’t know what I would do without him. Michael helps in every department of the store. He calls ahead of time to offer assistance on jobs at hand or to share thoughts on merchandizing to bring forth the very best for the store."

Peggy sees Michael’s potential and has begun preparing him for the next move within the company. Assistant Store Manager is on the horizon and is something Michael is working very hard to achieve. Ongoing supports are in place from St. John’s Community Services and Peggy to ensure he continues to advance within the company. Peggy and Michael have formed a special bond over the past year. Peggy is a natural support for Michael both on and off the job. She provides Michael with transportation on the days they work together and have even tagged the first Sunday of each month as DQ night.

Michael expressed, "I am glad I was given a second chance through St. John’s Community Services to work and prove myself, and I am really thankful for Peggy for believing in me. I now have dreams and goals set for my future. One day, I may even become a Store Manager."

Speaking Engagement: The DIDD Speakers Bureau is proud to announce Dr. Rick Rader will speak to the Middle Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association (DDNA) on Thursday, September 5, 2013 from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at 4525 Harding Road (Truxton Trust Building); Nashville, Tennessee 37205.

Dr. Rader is the Director of the Morton J. Kent Habilitation Center, the Editor-in-Chief of Exceptional Parent magazine, and an Emeritus Advisor to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Healthcare Innovations for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has been an advisor to five former U.S. Surgeons Generals in the area of health and disability, was appointed as a Distinguished Practitioner of the National Academies of Practice, was awarded Fellowship status at the American Institute of Stress and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and has received numerous awards and recognitions in the area of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The event will be open to any registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or licensed vocational nurse who holds a current Tennessee license. Also welcome are physicians, dentists, and other professionals who have an interest in the care and support of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

A networking lunch will be provided after Dr. Rader’s presentation. Please RSVP to Brandy Camperlino at  or 615-430-7351 for an accurate head count for the luncheon. Plenty of free parking will be available.

Focus Group: The next meeting for Greeneville participants is at Greene County Skills in their conference room on August 20 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The group will continue putting together their own local community resources handbook for upper East Tennessee. Please RSVP by August 19 to or if interested in attending. Friends, support staff, advocates, ISCs and others are welcome.

clipKeep Greene Beautiful: The people at Greene Valley think "green" as in recycling and "green" as in money! One might say they have "green" on the mind as the campus is located in Greene County. For the fourth time in four years, the facility won the telephone book recycling contest sponsored by the Greene County Partnership and Century Link. The 1,600 plus phone books collected this year avoided the landfill, will be recycled into something useful, and netted Greene Valley’s internal Keep Greene Beautiful project a nice $150 check. Last year’s win provided funds for the 2013 campus beautification projects as will this year’s win for next year. Since 2003, Greene Valley has recycled approximately 12,000 phone books. Stacked one on top of the other, that amount of phone books would be about 100 feet high!     


Enjoy your weekend!