DIDD, The Arc Inviting Families in 15 Rural Counties to Local Forums

By Carrie Guiden

The Arc Tennessee with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is hosting several forums in 15 rural counties this summer to inform Tennesseans with disabilities and their families of the resources and supports available. Gov. Bill Lee made it clear during his campaign that the prosperity of Tennessee’s rural communities was one of his top priorities. He solidified that commitment shortly after taking office by authoring Executive Order No. 1:  An order requiring a statement of rural impact and recommendations for better serving rural Tennesseans from all executive branch departments.

The entire Executive Order may be viewed here: https://publications.tnsosfiles.com/pub/execorders/exec-orders-lee1.pdf

About the Author

Carrie Guiden is the executive director of The Arc Tennessee. Carrie has more than 20 years of experience working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Indiana, Arizona and Tennessee through chapters of The Arc in these states. Her areas of concentration have included employment, secondary transition, positive behavior supports, person-centered planning, habilitation, grassroots advocacy, public policy and systems change.

Our hope is that this weekly blog will offer information you want to know, so if you have a question you want answered about employment for people with disabilities or other mysteries of the world of work, please email me at janet.shouse@vumc.org.

Gov. Lee identified 15 of Tennessee’s rural counties that qualified as economically distressed, ranking among the country’s 10% most distressed counties based upon an annual index of unemployment, income and poverty. His Executive Order challenges his executive branch departments to increase their impact on these rural counties.

As the state agency charged with providing services and supports to Tennesseans with disabilities, DIDD works to ensure individualized, person-centered supports are available to residents in their communities in all 95 counties. The department, in collaboration with its partners and community providers, has planned ways to improve outreach in remote areas.

DIDD Commissioner Brad Turner is a parent of a child with disabilities and recognizes the impact state services can have on people and their families in every corner of the state.

“It’s important that we continue to work tirelessly with our partners to reach and inform every Tennessean and their families, including those in the counties identified by Governor Lee,” Turner said. “We are committed to making Tennessee a more livable state for every person with disabilities, so that they have full access to their communities and can live the lives they envision for themselves.”

DIDD collaborates often with The Arc Tennessee to facilitate outreach to individuals with IDD and their families on a variety of topics important to this population.  Through its contract with DIDD, The Arc Tennessee has hosted past community forums on enabling technology (technology that supports independence for people with disabilities), the Employment and Community First CHOICES program, the Home and Community Based Services Settings Rule, the Employment First initiative and other topics.  When DIDD brought up the possibility of hosting community forums in the 15 rural counties identified in the Executive Order, planning began almost immediately.

Our goal with these forums will be to focus on an overview of disability resources to help connect the families in these counties to the broader disability community and advise them of the resources available to them. During planning, we also decided to add additional discussion about special education rights and how to maximize education outcomes for students receiving special education services.   Attendees may come for the entire session, or only part of it, depending upon their interests.

Lunch, dinner or snacks will be provided for those who register, depending the time of the forum.

The Arc Tennessee is excited about the opportunity to reach communities that we have not targeted in the past.  Knowledge is power.  If we help just one family connect with a resource, support or service that improves their quality of life, it is time well spent.

Here are the towns where the community forums will be held, and here is link to register: http://bit.ly/TNFamForums

  • June 7, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Gainesboro (Jackson County) USD Ag Center, 757 South Grundy Quarles Highway, Gainesboro, TN
  • June 7, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. — Celina (Clay County), Clay County Government Complex, 145 Cordell Hull Drive Celina, TN 38551
  • June 11, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Tiptonville (Lake County), Tiptonville City Hall Board room,130 S Court St, Tiptonville, TN 38079
  • June 11, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. — Ripley (Lauderdale County), First United Methodist Church, 145 S Main St, Ripley, TN 38063
  • June 17, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Huntsville (Scott County) Scott County Office Building, 2845 Baker Hwy, Huntsville, TN 37756
  • June 17, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. —Jamestown (Fentress County), Jamestown First Baptist Church, 306 E Central Ave, Jamestown, TN 38556
  • June 18, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. — Wartburg (Morgan County), E911 building, 274 Ralph Hamby Lane, Wartburg, TN
  • June 20, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Coalmont (Grundy County), UT Extension Office, 27 Phipps Street, Hwy. 56, Coalmont, TN 37313
  • June 20, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. — Pikeville (Bledsoe County), Pikeville Municipal Building, 25 Municipal Drive, Pikeville, TN 37367
  • June 21, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. — Spencer (Van Buren County), UT Extension Office, 445 College St. Spencer, TN 38585
  • July 1, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Sneedville (Hancock County), Hancock County Health Department, 178 Willow St., Sneedville, TN 37869
  • July 1, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. — Newport (Cocke County) Memorial Baptist Church, 221 W. Broadway, Newport, TN 37821
  • July 8, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Linden (Perry County), Perry County Community Center, 113 Factory Street, Linden TN 37096
  • July 9, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Bolivar (Hardeman County), Bolivar City Hall Conference Room, 211 N Washington St., Bolivar, TN 38008
  • July 9, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. — Selmer (McNairy County), McNairy Ag Center by McNairy High School, 845 High School Road Selmer, TN 38375

To learn more about the community forums, visit http://www.thearctn.org/Assets/Docs/Family-Forums.pdf.