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Changes under way for CDS

Changes under way for CDS
At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, the Board of Directors of Community Developmental Services, Inc. (CDS) confirmed a new partnership with St. John’s Community Services of West Tennessee (SJCS-TN) to manage the agency in the near future with the possible end goal of CDS becoming a part of the SJCS network of services for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
This announcement came on the heels of reports citing CDS director Cathy Cate was removed from her position with the company earlier in February.
The CDS Board heard the findings of a review recently conducted by SJCS at the request of the board.  SJCS President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilds, Tennessee State Director Julia Bratcher, and Managing Director Doug Clark presented the findings and possible immediate actions at the meeting while Chief Operating Officer Genni Sasnett and Chief Financial Officer Paul Houston joined by conference phone.  CDS has been troubled financially for some years by the rising cost of providing services demanded by the state while realizing a decreasing revenue stream.  
“It is happening everywhere. Governments are pulling back funds and demanding the same or higher services.  CDS is not the first agency to have trouble and it won’t be the last,” said Wilds.
Chairman of the Board Wayne Bailey stated, “The good will of the people of this area and their financial gifts could not pull us out of this ditch.”
The findings revealed among other things: some clients with lower Levels of Need (the basis of state funding for services) that may be raised to increase revenue; a top heavy indirect cost structure; and a lack of attention to short-term budgeting and long-range planning.
Clark, a former Assistant Management Director in the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (DIDD) who has taken over the day-to-day operations of CDS, said, “Changes are immediately necessary to get this ship off the bottom of the river.”  Board members concurred.
St. John’s Community Services (SJCS) is a nonprofit, community-based organization which supports children and adults with intellectual, developmental, physical and other disabilities.  SJCS has offices in the District of Columbia and three states including West Tennessee.  T
hey were chosen by the CDS Board of Directors after interviewing companies from a list of five organizations suggested by DIDD Commissioner Jim Henry.  
More information about SJCS can be found at its website
“With this agreement, this board has acted once again to preserve the agency that we know and love. SJCS provides services similar to CDS.
“Like us, they have struggled, but they have weathered the storm better.  We need to learn from them while achieving the three goals set after realizing the true financial status of CDS.  First and foremost, we want to preserve services to our clients; then maintain a majority of the jobs and benefits of CDS employees who have stayed with us through these rough times; and finally, keep a local board with local control.  Change is difficult, but with God’s grace, SJCS just might help us to accomplish all three,” said board member Mark Maddox.
Board member Bettye Giles chimed in, “Losing Cathy was extremely hard for us and more hard adjustments are coming, but with this advice, I think we can start winning again. That is so important for these clients.”
“The focus and our passion is the service we give these clients.  Who knows but that after we have gotten this ship moving again, growth may even create some jobs?” Wilds agreed.
The CDS board also welcomed a new board member, E.C. Robertson, Jr.  Mr. Robertson was the Commissioner of Mental Health and Mental Retardation in Governor Ned McWherter’s second term.  He currently serves as chair of SJCS-Tennessee.

WCP 3.01.12