Tennessee Launches State Employment Mentorship Program

“The focus of the Tennessee Employment First Leadership Initiative (TEFLI) is to provide consultation and mentoring to intellectual and developmental disability providers around the state as they transition people with disabilities from sheltered workshops to competitive integrated employment opportunities in the community.”  The initial TEFLI engagement will span five years and reach approximately 1,200 people supported in DIDD programs. 

 “Tennessee is fortunate to have within its borders providers who have a wide-range of knowledge in promoting and expanding employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” DIDD Commissioner Debra K. Payne said. “By leveraging in-state expertise, we can create a sustainable model for Employment First.”

The Tennessee Employment First Leadership Initiative has identified three provider subject matter experts that will be paired with an agency in the same grand division to offer support and resources as that agency continues its work on its transformation from a facility-based employment setting to a community-based setting.  “DIDD has an ambitious goal of doubling the percentage of people in its services who have a job in the community,” DIDD’s State Director of Employment and Day Services Jeremy Norden-Paul said.  “We can achieve that, in part, by investing in our local agencies who are already leading the way and creating mentorship opportunities with other agencies.”