DRT and TDMHSAS Sign Updated MOU
Recommitment to Collaborative Partnership and Protecting Tennesseans with Disabilities
DRT works to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities through both direct client services and systemic advocacy. Individual client services assist a single person with an issue they’re facing in their life. In contrast, our systemic advocacy addresses the impact of systems on groups of Tennesseans with disabilities. Our systemic advocacy includes legislative tracking, community outreach and education, and partnerships and collaborations with other agencies and state departments.
One way that DRT partners with Tennessee State departments is through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). MOUs are documents that outline how we will work with individual state departments to ensure the safety and rights of Tennesseans with disabilities are protected. MOUs help us navigate our relationships and enhance our collaborative efforts with various state departments. Areas of collaboration include opportunities for cross training and joint program initiatives, the potential to share information, and guidance for identifying trends and plans for intervention.
Historically, DRT has held MOUs with many Tennessee State departments including but not limited to: the Department of Human Services, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Department of Children’s Services, and the Department of Health. In August of 2020, DRT updated and renewed our MOU with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). Many of the document’s commitments to partnership and collaboration remain the same, but there are a few notable updates to our new MOU.
- The option to use of HIPPA-compliant video teleconference technology was added to visually engage with people served in regional mental health institutes during the pandemic, other State or National emergencies, or even when convenient and appropriate.
- Language was added reciting the obligations under the ADA and Section 504 of the rehabilitation act regarding obligations to provide effective communication.
- Language in the document was revised to be gender inclusive and provide clarity.
- Content was revised to ensure greater consistency with the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act and other Federal statutes and regulations.
- The document reaffirmed our intention to work effectively with state partners to reduce and eliminate abuse and neglect for people with mental illness served in State facilities.
During the pandemic, the needs of Tennesseans with disabilities are heightened and changing. DRT is grateful to have to opportunity to revise and improve on our long-standing MOU with TDMHSAS to be responsive to the changing needs of our community.
Lisa Primm, Executive Director of DRT, and Commissioner Marie Williams, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, sign the updated MOU in August 2020.