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August 2, 2013

Open Line

August 2, 2013

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

Farewell:  After 30 years of state service, Richard Shelton, DIDD Director of Staff and Provider Development retired this week. During his career with DIDD, Richard was instrumental in shaping policies and procedures, assisting with the development of a comprehensive Protection from Harm (PFH) system and being a strong advocate for those we serve.  We are thankful for his unyielding passion, service, and dedication to the department.  He will greatly be missed. 

Tori Lindsey, former Director of Operations for the West Tennessee Regional Office (WTRO), will serve as Richard’s replacement.  Please join us in welcoming her to Central Office.

DIDD Announces New Director of Investigations:  Stephanie Butler has resigned as DIDD Director of Investigations as of August 16, 2013.  We are grateful for her service and wish her the best in her future endeavors.

I am pleased to announce that the department’s new Director of Investigations will be Angela Friedenreich, who will assume her duties on August 19.  Angela has worked eight years for DIDD, serving most recently at the Middle Tennessee Regional Office as Transition Director.  In that role, it was her job to ensure that Class Members at Clover Bottom Developmental Center transitioned safely and successfully into the community.  Before that, she spent five years as a DIDD investigator in the Middle Tennessee Region, experience which will prove invaluable in her new position.  Previously, she worked as a case manager at Rutherford County Adult Activity Center (now Journeys in Community Living).  She has a Bachelor’s degree in social work from Mississippi State University.  The Director of Investigations is a key position in the department, and I am confident that Angela’s skills and experience will serve us well, in furtherance of the commitment we all share for the protection of persons supported by this department and its provider network.

Position Announcement:  The West Tennessee Regional Office (WTRO) is currently seeking  a Director of Operations.  This position is responsible for regional Provider Network Development for Home and Community Based Waiver Service delivery, Provider Supports, Staff Development, Person Centered Practices, Employment First and the Home Manager Certification Program.  For a complete job description and application instructions, please click here.

Person Centered Practices:   We are pleased to share that Journeys in Community Living, Michael Dunn Center, and Orange Grove Center are our latest Person Centered Organizations (PCOs). These agencies have joined existing PCOs including Greene Valley Developmental Center, East Tennessee Community Homes, Greene County Skills, Buffalo River Services, Pacesetters, Prospect, Rochelle Center; Easter Seals and Support Solutions.

All agencies have made a stronger commitment to excellence and supporting people in achieving the lives they desire.  This has challenged every PCO to examine its supports for implementation of best practices.

Each organization consists of Coaches (agency middle managers, senior direct support professionals, ISCs, case managers) and Leaders (self-advocates, agency senior managers, state management personnel, agency board members, family members, and ISC directors). Both groups work collectively to modify and implement changes to policy, practice, infrastructure, and rules that impact person centered practices.

“Orange Grove has benefited tremendously from the Person Centered Organization project. The synergy that was created with the confluence of DSP’s, middle managers and executive level personnel and volunteers working together as a cohesive think tank is ongoing and that is exactly what we had hoped for,” Orange Grove Executive Director Kyle Hauth stated. “Many more staff members have taken an active role in the scrutiny, evaluation and innovation of our service delivery system and there is a collective sense of ownership in the overall aspect of agency performance.  It has been exciting to witness the promotion and deployment of the Person Centered tools by so many stakeholders. This new circumstance has created a rejuvenation of the quality improvement process at Orange Grove.”

“Results from Person Centered Thinking (PCT) are real. The results don’t have to be big things; they can be small changes that simply make people happier. Our long term expectations are for this program to continue to redefine the ways in which we provide services to people, hopefully resulting in more satisfaction and fewer issues,” Michael Dunn Center President Mike McElhinney said.  “As an agency we expect PCT to continue to make a significant impact on the quality of services we provide. The process will evolve and develop over a period of years. We expect long range results to be positive and enriching to us all.”

The department is now accepting applications for additional Person Centered Organizations.  If your organization is interested in developing a Person Centered Organization, please click here for details on how to apply. Please e-mail or call Shalita V. Earls, Deputy Director of Person Centered Practices at or 615-253-5823 if you have any questions.

Employment First:  On June 19, Governor Haslam signed an Executive Order that supports our Employment First mission. As a result of the signing, an Employment First Task Force was created. The task force is comprised of representatives from DIDD, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, the University of Tennessee Center for Literacy Education and Employment, the Department of Education, Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Disability Law and Advocacy Center, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, TennCare, The Arc, a parent of a person receiving waiver services, a self-advocate, Department of Human Services, Department of Labor and Workforce Development and a provider agency.   This week, additional members were identified and will be invited to participate in upcoming meetings.  Goals of the task force are to address barriers and solutions through review of policies and procedures, blend and braid funding to increase integrated employment, review Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) recommendations to enhance employment opportunities, and develop training on disability employment for the state, provider agencies, persons supported, and families.

DIDD Conflict Management (CM)/Dispute Resolution (DR) Training:  Forty-seven more DIDD stakeholders from SRVS and the Arc TN participated in a 6-hour CM/DR training this month as part of their CQL accreditation efforts.  The training was conducted by Dr. Michael Mailahn, Customer Focused Services Coordinator and Rule 31 Mediator.

A reminder this training is available to all DIDD stakeholders. For scheduling information, please call Dr. Mailahn at 615-612-9570 or e-mail

Family Support Program:  We recently asked Family Support Program staff what has kept them working for the program for many years.  Below, are a couple of comments we received:

“Tennessee’s Family Support Program is awesome! The assistance it provides families helps so much with very few dollars.  I am so proud to have been involved with Family Support for 19 years!  It is such a blessing to work with so many fantastic people and actually make a difference in others lives!” (Mary Staggs, Buffalo River Services)

“I’m still here because of the families I serve.  All are very special to me, and I really feel as if they are a part of my family.  It is a true blessing to be able to help them, knowing that it does make a difference in their lives.” (Ruthelma Warf, Developmental Services of Dickson County)

We will highlight additional comments from Family Support staff in future editions of Open Line.

Project Titan Update:  Progress continues on the department’s efforts to replace its computer information systems.  I want to take this opportunity to recognize several contributors to this project.  The project is still in the planning and design phase, and primarily our efforts have been focused internally on ensuring that DIDD business and technical requirements are appropriately documented.  Over the past month, DIDD has started reaching out to our external business partners beginning with ISC agencies, to solicit feedback and input into the design of this new system.  We want to thank all agencies that have participated in these sessions so far.  Additionally, we will solicit provider input as we move forward with Project Titan development to achieve greater efficiencies in our business processes and better compatibility with existing information systems currently in use by our provider community.

As a reminder, you can find additional information related to Project Titan here. If you have questions, you can submit them by e-mail to

DIDD Training Update:  The Relias web training download of historical records continues and the help desk is assisting supervisors and training administrators with moves.  Relias has conducted weekly webinars for supervisors and sub portal administrators for the last three months, so webinars will not be offered next week.  Recorded webinars and a list of Q & A’s are available on the department’s website here.  

Linda Maurer Award:  The Tennessee Alliance of Support Coordinators (TASC) is continuing to accept nominations until August 31 for the Linda Maurer Award.  This award is established to honor the legacy of the late Linda Maurer, former Executive Director of Neighborhood Network, Inc.  Annually, TASC recognizes a Support Coordinator in each 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.  To submit nominations or for more information about the award, please click here.


Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!