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Person-Centered Excellence Network Accreditation Awarded To TN DIDD

The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) has again achieved Person-Centered Excellence Network Accreditation from CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. This designation recognizes excellence in the state system’s policies, procedures, practices, and approaches to strengthen the services of provider organizations and help enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities receiving supports across Tennessee. On March 23, 2023, a formal award ceremony was held to acknowledge DIDD’s attainment of its third term of Network Accreditation.

“We want to congratulate everyone from DIDD and throughout Tennessee on this impressive accomplishment!” says Mary Kay Rizzolo, CQL President and CEO. “Network Accreditation requires an immense amount of work, dedication, and involvement by numerous stakeholders. DIDD should be extremely proud that all of their efforts are having such a positive impact on so many lives.”

Network Accreditation provides entities with a framework for quality monitoring and enhancement to improve the supports and services of its members. The accreditation journey of DIDD has involved components such as reviews, focus groups, training, interviews, certification, and self-advocacy initiatives. These efforts aim to help DIDD in collecting and analyzing data, informing person-centered practices, better understanding priority outcomes of people supported, and identifying areas of opportunity for transforming its service delivery system.

“The Accreditation process helps us identify our strengths and weaknesses across all of our programs through the lens of a person’s experience.”

Brad Turner, TN DIDD Commissioner

“The Accreditation process helps us identify our strengths and weaknesses across all of our programs through the lens of a person’s experience,” states Brad Turner, TN DIDD Commissioner. “I truly believe the connection we’ve been able to forge with the people we support, our families and our employees through Accreditation has helped us reach our goal of becoming the nation’s most person-centered service delivery system for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The reach of DIDD’s relentless efforts to improve the quality of services and quality of life is substantial. Throughout Tennessee, there are roughly 400 contracted providers employing approximately 20,000 direct support professionals (DSPs), who deliver services to more than 25,000 people with disabilities. Over the last few years alone, DIDD has developed resources, created programs, and taken other specific actions to advance its objectives and meet its goals involving Network Accreditation. This includes conducting rights trainings, establishing self-advocacy programs, publishing guides about community inclusion, rolling out mentorship initiatives for DSPs, and hosting forums, town hall meetings, and other events covering numerous topics critical to human services – just to list a few examples.

“It’s been an absolute honor for CQL to work with DIDD for more than a decade,” shares Katherine Dunbar, CQL Vice President of Services and Systems Excellence. “We look forward to continuing this collaboration with our partners at DIDD for many, many more years to come!”

About DIDD

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) is the state agency responsible for oversight of services and support to Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Every day, the department strives to support approximately 12,000 people to live rewarding and fulfilling lives through Medicaid waiver Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), the MAPs Program, and the Family Support Program.

DIDD also provides services to infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays through the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS), and children under the age of 18 with disabilities or complex medical needs through the Katie Beckett Program. The department supports all Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities live the lives they envision for themselves by ensuring people are free to exercise rights, engage with their broader communities and experience optimal health.

Network Accreditation History In Tennessee

In August 2012, CQL and DIDD began a partnership to explore ways to strengthen services for people with disabilities in Tennessee. This undertaking was intended to build up systems, enhance supports, and promote best practices to improve people’s lives. The collaboration culminated in 2015, when DIDD achieved its first four-year term of Network Accreditation. DIDD then attained a second four-year term of Network Accreditation in 2019.

Over the years, Network Accreditation has provided DIDD with strategies for defining, measuring, and evaluating quality from the person’s perspective. Through CQL’s internationally-recognized tools like the Basic Assurances®, Personal Outcome Measures®, Person-Centered Excellence, and others, DIDD has built its capacity for transformation. The partnership, involving the implementation and utilization of these tools, philosophies, and approaches, helps DIDD in developing a blueprint for moving its disability services system forward.

The Future Of Network Accreditation For DIDD

Following their latest achievement of Person-Centered Excellence Network Accreditation, DIDD will advance its quality journey over the next four years of the new accreditation term. This includes the continuation of strengthening system capacity, assessing quality initiatives, evaluating data, leveraging that data to enhance services, and more. DIDD’s current Person-Centered Excellence Network Accreditation term lasts through 2027.


Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.