Family Support Program

In 1992, at the urging of disability advocates and families, The Tennessee legislature established the Family Support Program. The program is funded by state dollars and designed to assist individuals with severe disabilities and their families to remain together in their homes and communities. Family Support is not a substitute for more comprehensive services provided under other programs, including the Medicaid HCBS Waiver, TennCare, Medicare, or private insurance.

The primary purpose of the program is to support:

  • Families who have school-aged or younger children with severe disabilities
  • Adults with severe disabilities who choose to live with their families
  • Adults with severe disabilities not supported by other residential programs funded by state or federal funds

Services can include but are not limited to: Respite care, day care services, home modifications, equipment, supplies, personal assistance, transportation, homemaker services, housing costs, health-related needs, nursing and counseling.

Services are flexible and responsive to families and their needs. An essential element of the Family Support Program is family and consumer involvement. Local and District Councils have been established and meet on a regular basis to oversee and provide advice on the distribution of local services.

District 1
Brenda Wilson
Johnson City, TN

District 2
Carmel Beatty
Knoxville, TN

District 3
Pam Jackson
Chattanooga, TN

District 4
LaShonda Dillard
Cookeville, TN

District 5
Errol Elshtain - Chair
Nashville, TN

District 6
Chrissy Hood
Pulaski, TN

District 7
Jenny Williams
Trenton, TN

District 8
Leslie Guilaran
Jackson, TN

District 9
Wanda Keath
Memphis, TN

TN Council on Developmental Disabilities
Cathlyn Smith 

Center for Independent Living
Edward Mitchell

Katie Powers
Tennessee Disability Coalition
Carrie Carlson

At Large
Yolanda Beason  - DIDD 
Lacey Aviles - Area Agency on Aging

Staff Support
Jenna Martin

UBS Tower, 8th Floor
315 Deaderick Street, 8th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243

(615) 626-1579

FY 2022 – 2023

·  Tuesday, August 2, 2022

·  Tuesday, November 1, 2022

·  Tuesday, February 7, 2023

·  Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Jenna Martin
Director of Developmental Disability Services
UBS Tower, 8th Floor
315 Deaderick Street 
Nashville, TN  37234 

(615) 626-1579

Karla Goodman​
West Tennessee Regional Office
11437 Milton Wilson Road
Arlington, TN 38002

(901) 745-7235
Fax: (901) 745-7723

Tammie Browning
Middle Tennessee Regional Office
One Cannon Way, Room 3111
275 Stewarts Ferry Pike Nashville, TN 37214

(615) 231-5057
Fax: (615) 884-4317

Jill Kiehna

East TN Regional Office
4850 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy
Greeneville TN 37745


Who is eligible for Family Support?

Persons with severe disabilities who meet eligibility criteria and who are residing in the community in an unsupported residential setting. Due to limited state funding and Local Council priorities not all eligible individuals can be served.

How does a person apply for the Family Support Program?

There is a Family Support agency for every county in the state. Contact the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Regional or Central Office to find out what agency has the Family Support contract for your county.

How does a person get approved for the Family Support Program?

The individual must have a severe disability and meet the eligibility criteria established for the program. It is important to note the distinction between eligibility and selection and enrollment. Many families who apply to the Family Support Program may be approved as eligible for services based on the definition of family, severe disability, and living circumstance. However, depending on the resources and Local Council priorities, a few number of families may actually be selected to receive services and be enrolled in the program.

What services are available through Family Support?

Services are designed to be flexible and responsive to individual or family needs. Services might include but are not limited to: respite care, before/after care, day care, home/vehicle modifications, specialized equipment/repair/maintenance, nutrition/clothing/supplies, personal assistance, transportation, homemaker services, housing costs, health related costs, nursing, counseling, summer camp, and evaluation. The program funds services and needs that are not covered by traditional resources.

How much funding can I get?

The current limit on benefits if $4,000 per individual with a severe disability in a family. However, depending on Family Support resources and Local Council priorities, you may get less than $4,000.

If I am approved for the Family Support Program and my needs change during the year, can I revise the services in my Family Support Service Plan?

Yes, the program is designed to be flexible and recognizes that the family needs may change during the year. Services can be added or changed as long as money is available in the existing Family Support Service Plan.

Will I receive the same amount of money each year?

An individual/family has to reapply each year for Family Support funding. Allocations each year are based on the availability of state funds, needs of the individual/family, and Local Council priorities.

Will the Family Support agency assist me in finding a Respite Care provider?

Once a Local Council has approved a family to receive funding from the program it is up to the family to find the provider or services they need.

Can the Family Support Program pay my Respite Care provider?

If you are approved to receive funding for respite care you will need to ask your Family Support agency if they can pay your respite care provider directly. Each agency develops their own accounting system for the distribution of funds to families. 

What can I do if I have an unresolved complaint pertaining to the Family Support Program?

If the conflict cannot be resolved with the agency Family Support Coordinator, there is a formal Grievance/Appeals process. If you do not have a copy of the Grievance/Appeals process ask the Family Support Coordinator for a copy.