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Breaking Ground 103 - Ensuring Clear Communication: TEIS Transition Continues

By Lauren LeGate, Public Information Officer, TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

When the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) knew that the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) was coming on board in July, one thing was clear: we had to communicate clearly with the TEIS community statewide. (TEIS provides services for children from birth to age three who have disabilities or developmental delays. TEIS is moving July 1 to DIDD from its previous home with the Department of Education.) All relationships are made better with effective communication. DIDD leaders know that communicating early and often is vital to the success of the TEIS program.

To start, we wanted to hear from the agencies and partners we rely on to deliver services. It’s important to us that we work together with our partners and listen carefully to their feedback.

DIDD sent an anonymous external communications survey to the resource agencies, early interventionists, therapists, and other outside community members who deliver services.

Using 16 questions and the always useful comment box, we wanted to understand one thing: How can we best communicate with the group of people who are the backbone of our program?

We asked questions about how often people use their email, what they thought about the TEIS website and newsletter, and what they wanted to hear more about. Our most important questions centered on what types of communication work best for them.  At DIDD, we want to know the easiest ways to reach our partners if there is an immediate message we need to communicate.  We also want to know: when things aren’t urgent, what would you look forward to learning more about when it comes to early intervention in Tennessee?

What did we learn?

In our almost 150 responses, we learned a lot about what people like and where improvements can be made.  One thing is clear: email remains the most effective way to engage with people.  It is easy to check, easy to use, and many of us are checking it hourly.

People who responded also felt that the TEIS newsletter is a great resource for staying connected to the program.  Participants felt strongly that they wanted to hear more about changes in policies or procedures and learn more about what their colleagues are doing in other parts of the state.

Of course, in the year 2020, we asked several questions about social media.  Do you use it?  Do you think TEIS should use it?  The results were mixed, and several people aren’t interested in hearing about early intervention on their social media pages.

At the end of the two-week survey, it was evident that what is most important is frequent, clear communication with all our partners.  It means people are being heard and it validates the hard work they do every day.

What will change?

As the transition to DIDD is complete, we are anxious to put what we learned to good use.  We are rolling out a new TEIS website with the same useful information, but with added features and helpful resources.  Our newsletter will have a new look and will now be available twice a month.  You will also start to hear more about TEIS through DIDD’s social media pages and look for us on Twitter at TEIS_TN!

One thing is certain, you can’t build relationships without communication.  At DIDD, our mission is to make sure the babies and toddlers in Tennessee are reaching their full potential, and we can’t do that without strong relationships with our partners across the entire state.

TEIS: There’s an app for that!

TN Early Intervention System is excited to announce that families, caregivers, and medical professionals can now refer a child to TEIS on the MyTN app.  The MyTN app is meant to be a one-stop-shop for Tennesseans to find useful information about government services.  Services range from renewing your driver’s license to finding your favorite farmer’s market.  We are hopeful that this new resource will help even more families and children find their way to TEIS and all of the helpful services that are available.  To check out the new app and all it has to offer, download it for free in your device’s app store.

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