Press Release: Tennessee Early Intervention System Moves to DIDD

Program that serves infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities transitioned to department charged with disability oversight
Wednesday, July 01, 2020 | 09:46am

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) is excited to welcome the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) into its department.  This follows the announcement first made in December 2019, when Gov. Bill Lee issued Executive Order No. 10 transferring the program from the Department of Education to DIDD.  It was announced that the transition would officially happen on July 1, 2020. 

TEIS is a voluntary program that provides services to children from birth through age two that may have developmental delays or disabilities.  TEIS is governed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C.  It is provided to children and families at no cost.

In the months since the executive order was signed, both departments have worked together to make this transition seamless for TEIS employees, children, and families.  The goal has been to transfer services without any interruption to more than 200 employees, and the approximately 10,000 children that receive early intervention services through the program.

“The services and support these children receive at an early age allows them to realize their full potential.  It also helps parents know that they aren’t alone,” DIDD Commissioner Turner said.  Turner’s 13-year-old daughter, Kinsley, received TEIS services as a young child. “I’m excited to build on the great work that’s already been done by Commissioner Schwinn and our partners at DOE. I want to thank them for their leadership and dedication.” 

To date, TEIS has been housed in the Department of Education, which serves Tennessee’s one million students in grades pre-K--12. To elevate and accelerate the work of TEIS, this program has been repositioned in DIDD, providing increased alignment and coordination to across supports and services from the agency whose sole purpose is to support people with disabilities to live the lives they envision for themselves.

“TEIS provides a critical service to families and children of this state, and much hard work has gone into making this transition a smooth one,” said Education Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn. “I am grateful to Commissioner Turner and the DIDD team for their commitment to continue the important work providing Tennessee’s youngest citizens the supports they need to grow and thrive.”

Since the transition was announced, DIDD has brought on an Assistant Commissioner, Dr. Gabrielle Madison, for TEIS as well as a dedicated Public Information Officer.  Commissioner Turner has also visited with TEIS staff from all nine point of entry offices and met with vendors and early intervention agencies to understand the successes and challenges for the program ahead. 

DIDD is the state agency responsible for the community-based services for approximately 8,000 people with intellectual disabilities and 4,000 people through the Family Support Program.  Later in 2020, DIDD will also oversee the Katie Beckett Program that will provide and/or help pay for medical care for children under the age of 18 with disabilities or complex needs.