Accessibility & Language Options

Individual Advocacy Services

Helping individuals find their voice

The Arc Tennessee has a team of experienced advocates that work directly with individuals to solve problems, connect them to resources, develop advocacy skills, or assist with a wide array of specific needs. Individual advocacy services are designed to assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in understanding their rights and identifying opportunities to pursue and achieve their dreams. Our overall goal is to empower individuals to effectively advocate for themselves. Individual advocacy services are free to individuals and families. The Arc Tennessee can provide information when legal issues are involved, but The Arc Tennessee does not provide legal advocacy services when legal issues are involved. The Arc Tennessee does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin or limited English proficiency.

Advocacy Referral Form
All about the advocacy experience

Our Advocates can help you:

  • Understand and apply for government programs such as TennCare, Katie Beckett, ECF CHOICES, SSI, SSDI, and Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Learn about and accessing community employment and career pathways
  • Develop relationships within the community and using resources and supports that may already exist
  • Learn about guardianship and alternatives to guardianship, including supported decision-making
  • Become a Self-Advocate and connecting to Self-Advocates groups such as People First Tennessee 
Areas of advocacy support

Supporting individuals with:

  • Quality of Life (Human Rights, financial, dispute resolution)
  • Service Access (Educational resources, service denials, quality of services)
  • Health and Safety
  • Conservatorship/Family/Circle of Support concerns
  • Legal Resources

Please note: The Arc Tennessee is prohibited from acting in a representative capacity, drawing up legal documents, or mediating legal disputes. The Arc Tennessee is able to provide information regarding legal resources and being present with an individual during legal meetings.
Employment & Community First (ECF) CHOICES Network

The Arc Tennessee is a contract provider of the Employment & Community First (ECF) CHOICES program services listed below. Individuals approved for these services can be referred to The Arc Tennessee by their Managed Care Organization (MCO) or by filling out the advocacy referral form above.

Peer–to-Peer Support and Navigation for Person-Centered Planning

The Arc Tennessee provides peer-to-peer support and navigation. These services assist an individual and his/her family member(s) or conservator in one or more of the following areas:

  • Directing the person-centered planning process;
  • Understanding and considering self-direction;
  • Understanding and considering individualized integrated employment/self-employment; and
  • Understanding and considering independent community living options

Visit our Peer Support Academy to learn more. 

Conservatorship and Alternatives to Conservatorship Counseling and Assistance

Conservatorship and Alternatives to Conservatorship Counseling and Assistance (Groups 4, 5 & 6) offers one-time consultation, education and assistance to family caregivers in:

  • Understanding conservatorship and alternatives to conservatorship.
  • These services shall be provided in a manner that seeks to preserve the rights and freedoms of the individual to the maximum extent possible and appropriate.
  • This service may include assistance with completing necessary paperwork and processes to establish an alternative to conservatorship or conservatorship, if appropriate.

For additional information on decision-making supports, please visit the Tennessee Center for Decision-Making Support. 

Health Insurance Counseling & Forms Assistance

Health insurance counseling and forms Assistance (Group 4) offers training and assistance to individuals enrolled in ECF CHOICES and/or their family caregiver and policy holder in:

  • Understanding the benefits offered through their private or public insurance program
  • Completing necessary forms, accessing covered benefits, and navigating member appeal processes regarding covered benefits

Community Support Development, Organization and Navigation

Advocacy services in the areas of community support development, organization and navigation (Group 4) area assist individuals and families in:

  1. Promoting a spirit of personal reliance and contribution, mutual support and community connection;
  2. Developing social networks and connections within local communities, and
  3. Emphasizes, promotes and coordinates the use of unpaid supports to address individual and family needs in addition to paid services.

Supports provided include:

  • Helping individuals and family caregivers to develop a network for information and mutual support from others who receive services or family caregivers of individuals with disabilities;
  • Assisting individuals with disabilities and family caregivers with identifying and utilizing supports available from community service organizations, such as churches, schools, colleges, libraries, neighborhood associations, clubs, recreational entities, businesses and community organizations focused on exchange of services (e.g. time banks); and
  • Assisting individuals with disabilities and family caregivers with providing mutual support to one another (through service/support exchange), and contributions offered to others in the community.

These services are provided by a Community Navigator and reimbursed on a per person (or family) per month basis, based on specific goals and objectives as specified in the person-centered support plan.

ECF CHOICES Information

Enrollment for the ECF CHOICES program is open for people with intellectual disability (ID) and people with developmental disabilities (DD) other than ID.  To start the process for determining eligibility, simply complete a self-referral form.  There are three (3) ways to accomplish this task:

  1. To sign-up for ECF CHOICES, complete the online application.  
  2. If you already have TennCare, call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask for help completing the self-referral form for the ECF CHOICES program.
    1. Amerigroup 866-840-4991
    2. BlueCare 888-747-8955
    3. United Healthcare 800-690-1606
  3. If you do not have TennCare, contact your DIDD Regional Office and ask for help completing the self-referral form.
    1. West TN Regional Office:  866-372-5709
    2. Middle TN Regional Office:  800-654-4839
    3. East Tennessee Regional Office:  888-531-9876


  • Heather Henderson

    Advocacy is the heart of what we do. The Arc Tennessee’s team of advocates go all-in to ensure an individual’s voice is heard and respected.

    – Heather Henderson, Director of Advocacy
  • Tracey Cunningham

    As advocates, we work to ensure a good quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

    – Tracey Cunningham, Advocate
  • Theresa Smisor

    Advocacy honors and facilitates self-empowerment, self-determination, choice and dignity.

    – Theresa Smisor, Advocate
  • Lamont Tucker

    As advocates, we help teach individuals to speak up for themselves in order to lead a productive, fulfilling life. Many times this can be done by keeping an individual from harm or assist with finding a job.

    – Lamont Tucker, Advocate

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