The Look in Brief

Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities seeks funding boost to programs

By: - November 13, 2023 6:00 am
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is seeking a $72 million budget increase to expand early intervention services for small children and crisis care for adults.

The proposed increase would expand a program that provides emergency intervention for people with disabilities experiencing mental health crises.. Demand for START Assessment and Stabilization Teams continues to increase: last year the crisis teams intervened in 367 instances; this year, the number has grown to 602.

The department is also seeking to fund new beds to stabilize people experiencing mental health crises that would serve as a “much better place for them to stay than a hospital or a jail,” Commissioner Brad Turner said last week.

Judges, police and court officials have been seeking the service expansion, Turner said in making the proposal to widen the reach of the START program —currently operating in five regions — to nine regions. The expansion would reduce the response time in a mental health emergency to under one hour, he said.

The department is also seeking to serve kids who receive nursing home respiratory care. Currently 20 Tennessee children in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services are being housed in out-of-state nursing homes, Turner said. Funding for eight new in-state slots would bring some of those children home. 

The department is also seeking new funding to expand the number of social workers serving children with disabilities or severe medical needs in the Katie Beckett program. Currently social workers in the program are responsible for, on average,  61 children. The goal of a budget boost would be to bring the caseload average below 50.


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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.