Governor Receives Employment First Task Force Report


On Tuesday, I had the honor of presenting Governor Haslam with the “Expect Employment” report, detailing the work of the Employment First Task Force over the past year.  The task force was created by Executive Order No. 28, which the governor signed last year.  The report includes the barriers to employment for persons with disabilities, as well as seven recommendations to improve employment outcomes.  I would like to thank the hard work and dedication of the people who participated in the task force.  The state has already seen the progress that can be made when state agencies, persons with disabilities and their families, and other stakeholders collaborate and bring ideas to the table.  I look forward to seeing what we can all do together moving forward as we try to make Tennessee a national model for successful strategies for improving disability employment. 

I encourage everyone to read the report, which can be found here.  In addition, a press release about the report written by the Governor’s office can be found here.  


Senator Massey Testifies About Employment Barriers

State Senator Becky Massey, Executive Director of the Sertoma Center, testified in front of the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Thursday.  The hearing was titled “Fulfilling the Promise: Overcoming Persistent Barriers to Economic Self-Sufficiency for People with Disabilities”.   During her testimony, she mentioned several of the ways Tennessee is trying to improve employment for people with disabilities, and shared some of the recommendations formed by the Employment First Task Force.  She also discussed at length some of the federal barriers to employment, and suggestions on how to remove those barriers.    Click here to find the video of Senator Massey’s testimony, which occurs at around 42-minute mark.  Her written testimony can be found by clicking here.  

(Pictured: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), State Sen. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA))

Employment First Conference

DIDD is holding an Employment First conference to discuss current HCBS policy, upcoming HCBS waivers, waves of integrated employment, and how state agencies are working together to increase integrated employment outcomes for Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  There will also be an opportunity to hear from families and persons supported that have been positively impacted by working in the community. 

Date: Wednesday, October 15th

Time: 9:00am to 4:00pm (CST)

Location: Millenium Maxwell House Hotel, Nashville TN

RSVP: There are only 15 slots available and registration is on a first come, first serve basis.  Please contact Betty Chester for RSVP information at

Questions:  Please contact Amy Gonzalez, State Director of Employment and Day Services at

An Ounce of Prevention

This week’s topic is an update to the June 27, 2014 “Head in the Bed” article.  In that edition, providers were advised that “billing for a unit of residential support when the individual is not in the residence should not occur”, which remains the requirement.  However, it turns out the 12:01 AM (midnight) specification given in the June 27 article needs to be retracted.  Further clarification was obtained and “Day of Admission” is the standard upon which billing should be based.  For our provider community, this means billing applicability is based on an 11:59 PM “head in the bed rule”, NOT 12:01 (midnight).  The examples from the June 27 article have been updated. Please see below.

A “Commissioner’s Correspondence” memo with additional examples and clarification is forthcoming.  In the meantime, staff from your Regional DIDD Billing Coordinator’s office remains available to respond to any questions.  

Relias Training

We are pleased to announce some live web training on the new functionality for Relias training administrators.  See below topics and dates with a link to the Relias registration site.  None will be offered the week of the Nashville Relias Conference. There continue to be recorded webinars of training available on the Relias Connect site accessed through the Help icon on  the Relias home page if you are a supervisor or administrator.  Choose the Support tab and search by topic.

Skills Checklist – Tues, September 30, 1 PM CST, 2 PM EST


Streaming Media/Power Point to SCORM – Wed, Oct 1 at 1 PM CST, 2 PM EST


Live Event Management – Thurs, October 2, at 1 PM CST, 2 PM EST


Curricula and External Training Enhancements – Fri, Oct 3, 1 PM CST, 2PM EST


Employment First Community of Practice Webinar

Topic: Working with state agencies whose funding streams and policies may not be keeping pace

Presenter: Stephen Hall, Ph.D., ODEP Subject Matter Expert

Audience: Executive Directors, Assistant Directors and staff working to utilize the current policies to the best of their abilities

When: October 6, 2014

Time: 1:00-2:30(CST)

Where: Call – 615-741-1193 or toll free at 1-877-214-0097 and, to join the meeting, participants should enter the link below in their web browser:

Select the option to enter as guest, type in your first and last name, and click on the option to enter the meeting room. If you have never connected to an Adobe Connect meeting before on the computer that you will be using to connect to this meeting please test your connection prior to the meeting:

You may be prompted to install an Adobe Connect Add-In, which may take a few minutes to download and install.  You may also need to temporarily disable your pop-up blocker. Please contact if you need any assistance.

RSVP: Contact Betty Chester at

Conversations that Matter in Knoxville and Martin

Employment expectations for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are changing and so are the services that support them. Sheltered employment options will decrease. Changes must be made thoughtfully so that “unintended consequences” are minimized. We invite you to this forum to learn about the changes impacting employment options for people with ID, to share your thoughts on what works for you in the current system, and to share what needs to be in place for you to consider other employment options.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

1pm – 3pm or 5:30pm – 7:30pm

The Arc Knox County/Sunshine Industries

3000 N. Central Street

Knoxville, TN 37917                                                                         


When: Tuesday, October 14, 2014

1-3pm or 5:30-7:30pm

Where: First State Bank

106 University Street                                                

WPPC Public Notice

The West Planning and Policy Council (WPPC) will conduct its next meeting on October 14, 2014 from 10:15 a.m.-2:15a.m.  The meeting will be held at the Cordova Library, and is open to the public.  For additional information, or if you require ADA assistance, please contact Janet Neihoff at 731-423-5889 or Patricia Bernero at 901-745-7304.

Person Centered Practices

In last week’s edition of the Open Line, we failed to mention three extremely worthy Person Centered Organizations (PCOs): Journeys in Community Living, Michael Dunn Center and Orange Grove Center. These agencies are very committed to person-centeredness, and have worked very passionately to implement changes to their organization’s mission and values.