Support for Families

Woman And Young Man With Down Syndrome Over 75% of families with a loved one who has an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) have no paid supports to help them. These individuals are supported in their family home.

Supporting Families
Tennessee is committed to finding creative ways to support families who have loved ones with IDD. Tennessee is part of a Community of Practice through a grant from the Administration on Community Living (ACL). For more information on this initiative, click HERE.

The stress of caring for a child with a disability or other special behavioral health or emotional condition can cause a caregiver to feel isolated, frustrated or depressed. Sometimes caregivers need additional support when balancing their child’s special needs with other responsibilities. The state provides temporary relief from caregiving through a wide variety of respite services. For more information go to Kid Central TN.

TennCare is our state's Medicaid Agency. TennCare provides health care coverage and some other services to individuals with disabilities who meet certain criteria. To apply for TennCare click HERE.

TennCare Renewal Packet Step-by-Step Video

Family Support is a state-funded program through the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) that provides flexible services to people with disabilities. The average amount of yearly support per person is about $1,200. While there is a waiting list for the program, the lists are local and the length varies region to region. To find the Family Support Agency near you, click HERE.

TN Disability Pathfinder is a website that helps families find disability specific services in their county. You can find anything from respite providers, occupational therapy, camps, art therapy, behavior services and much more on this one website. You also have the option of speaking with a real person by calling 1-800-640-4636 or you can email

Si tiene un niño o miembro de la familia con una incapacidad intelectual o de desarrollo, puede contactuar Pathfinder a: 615-875-5083 para recibir más información sobre recursos y servicios.

To view Tennessee Resources by program, support or service, click HERE.

The Arc's Center for Future Planning provides reliable information and assistance in these areas to individuals with I/DD, their family members and friends, support professionals and the community: person-centered planning, decision-making, housing options, and financial planning. To download the flyer click HERE. To read about Finding and Choosing a Lawyer click HERE. Tips for Siblings can be found HERE.

The Tennessee Treasury Department has officially launched ABLETN.GOV! ABLE Accounts are tax-advantaged saving accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. For more information or to register to receive updates about Tennessee's Achieving a Better Life Experience Program click this link: ABLE TN. To view talking points on ABLE TN, click HERE.

To help improve health care for adults with IDD, a free online training opportunity has been created through a partnership with TennCare, the TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. The training videos are designed to encourage individuals with IDD, families, caregivers, direct support professionals, and/or conservators to engage more effectively with health care providers and strengthen the health care relationship to support improved health care for the person with IDD. The series, “Appropriate Use of Psychotropic Medications for People with IDD: Helping Individuals Get the Best Behavioral Health Care,” can be found HERE. The modules are based on information from the IDD Toolkit, an online resource to help primary care providers better serve adults with IDD. The toolkit can be found HERE.

UnitedHealthcare Childen's Foundation Grants - Families struggling with the medical bills of children with special needs may get help from the UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation (UHCCF). The nonprofit offers grants of up to $5,000 for [but not limited to] speech language treatment, audiology, and hearing aids--not fully covered by health insurance. There are some age, income, and residential qualifiers.

Tucker's House connects Middle TN families with children with disabilities to resources and provides financial assistance for construction management for home modifications to make their houses accessible and therapy friendly.

If you are an adult with a disability (age 21 or over) or a senior citizen (age 65 or over) with financial need we can help you with screening and applying for benefits. Click the link below for more information! Click HERE for more information.

Learning Opportunities for Parents
Volunteer Advocacy Project of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center trains volunteer advocates to provide instrumental and effective support to parents of school-aged children with disabilities. Participants learn about special education law and advocacy strategies. Each participant shadows an advocate who is working with a family. Following completion of the program, participants are linked with families needing education advocates.

Partners in Policymaking is a free leadership and advocacy training program for adults with disabilities and family members of persons with disabilities sponsored by the TN Council on Developmental Disabilities. Partners learn how to have a positive impact on systems and services that impact this population.

Support and Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP) provides many opportunities for learning the rights of children with IDD under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Health Care for Adults with ID - Video Advice for Families is an online training series about health care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities available at no cost for families, conservators, direct support professionals, and other caregivers. Although the training is entitled “Appropriate Use of Psychotropic Medications for People with IDD: Helping Individuals Get the Best Behavioral Health Care,” the video vignettes also include basic information about communication barriers that may exist with people with IDD; physical health issues that are more prevalent in this population; and emotional, behavioral, and mental health concerns that may be more difficult to diagnose in this group.

Links to other disability websites may be found HERE.