Contact: Wade Creswell FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phone: (865) 376-3416, ext. 207 12 P.M. EDT, February 25, 2010

state of tennessee grows government agencies while cutting rates to people with special needs

Nashville, tn, February 11, 2010: The state of Tennessee Division of Intellectual Disabilities Services (DIDS) intends to cut rates of reimbursement to community providers of services for people with developmental disabilities. An average cut in funding of 9% is expected to apply to services which would include residential and day services. For the first time in history, the cut would also apply to Intermediate Care Facilities/ Medical Residential homes (ICF/MR) that are used to provide services to some of the most medically fragile individuals served.

At Michael Dunn Center of Kingston, the cuts could mean a loss of over $650,000. This latest round of cuts comes on the heels of two years of additional reductions in funding. In January, 2008, DIDS enacted a mid-year 6.1% across the board cut in funding. Since that time, regulators from DIDS have continued reviewing each individual served which has resulted in thousands of individuals across the state having their Level of Need reduced. The Level of Need for each individual had been established and reviewed prior to the latest rounds of cuts. Each individual's Level of Need is directly tied to the amount of dollars the provider agencies will be paid for serving an individual.

Interestingly, while DIDS, under the direction of Commissioner of Finance Dave Goetz, has elected to cut funding for services to people with special needs, the number of employees in DIDS has increased significantly. From October, 1999 to February, 2009, the number of employees working in Knoxville at the DIDS East Tennessee Regional Office increased from approximately 99 to 188. Currently DIDS employs over 3,000 state employees. In 2009, the state of Tennessee funded services for approximately 12,000 people with developmental disabilities across the state. There are over 6,200 people with special needs on a waiting list for services, and this list grows every day. Additionally, the Governor has announced a 3% bonus for all State of Tennessee employees while at the same time cutting services.

All across the state, community provider agencies such as Michael Dunn Center, most of which are non-profit organizations, are at risk of going out of business due to lack of funding. The state budget, under Governor Bredesen's leadership, has decreased the priority for funding people with special needs. Should provider agencies fail, the question becomes, "What would happen to the people that agency serves?"

As a result of settlement agreements between the state of Tennessee and an advocacy group for people with disabilities in the mid to late 1990s, it is illegal to institutionalize individuals with intellectual disabilities. Provider agencies are the only safety net available for many people without families that can support their needs.

DIDS isn't the only state agency cutting funds for people with developmental disabilities. The Tennessee Department of Education has limited funding available for Early Intervention Services. This service provides support and training to families of children under the age of three who have been diagnosed with at least two areas of developmental delay. On July 1, 2009, the Department of Education cut funding for services to infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities by approximately 20%.

If you would like to voice your opinion on this matter please contact your state representative, state senator, and the governor's office.

Michael Dunn Center Expands Secure Document Destruction Service

The Michael Dunn Center Work Programs has invested in the expansion of a new service, Secure Document Destruction. For four years Secure Document Destruction has been a service available to individuals and businesses to have their confidential documents or materials shredded either on-site or at the Work Programs building of the campus of Michael Dunn Center. Not only does Secure Document Destruction provide a valuable service to businesses and individuals in the community for a reasonable cost, it also provides meaningful jobs to individuals with disabilities.

Secure Document Destruction has operated with two trucks and two shredders since its inception. In an effort to expand its reach and efficiency, Work Programs has invested in a new shredder, conveyor and bailer. The expansion will allow Michael Dunn Center Work Programs to create 8-10 jobs for individuals with disabilities as well as hire job coaches without disabilities to supervise the work of the operation.

Presently, all paper is shredded together, placed in the containers, and taken to be recycled. The rate of “mixed” paper is $120/ ton. This expansion will allow for the sorting of white paper from all other colored and glossy paper. The rate of compensation for “white” shredded paper without mixed paper is $180/ ton. Another benefit of the expansion will be the addition of shredding and recycling cardboard.

The capability of bailing all recycled materials will enable the Michael Dunn Center to directly recycle all shredded material, making Secure Document Destruction a friend of the environment. Eventually, Secure Document Destruction hopes to have the capability of recycling other materials such as aluminum.

Micheal Dunn Center enjoys help from over fifty volunteers from knoxville church

kingston, tn, october 20, 2007:

While most people were inside watching football, fifty-one volunteers from Faith Promise Church in Knoxville gave their time on a beautiful fall afternoon to complete some much needed projects at Michael Dunn Center. The volunteer activities were part of "Project Inasmuch." Some of the projects completed included landscaping, painting, repair of facilities, and washing and cleaning of vehicles.

"Without the help of such a wonderful group of volunteers," said Michael Dunn Center president Mike McElhinney, "there are very few available resources to keep our facilities in good shape. Thanks to the people from Faith Promise Church our main campus is in much better condition than it was before."

Michael Dunn Center is a non-profit agency that serves approximately 300 children and adults with developmental disabilities. If you would be interested in volunteering for projects at one of Michael Dunn Center's 26 facilities or if you would like to make a donation to Michael Dunn Center, please contact Wade Creswell at 865-376-3416, extension 207.

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