three dental mirrors

My Choice Kentucky: Making Decisions in Dental Care

The UK Human Development Institute (HDI) and the UK College of Dentistry have received a grant from the WITH Foundation, the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, and Ability Central to create materials to enhance the dental care of people with intellectual and  developmental disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). These materials will include videos and symbol sets that will improve communication and understanding for AAC users, their supporters, and dental professionals. Additionally, the materials will facilitate the use of supported decision making in dental care.

Applicants were encouraged to develop new partnerships or significantly enhance existing partnerships between disability organizations, advocates, community organizations, and healthcare providers. Laura Butler and Jacqui Kearns will represent HDI in this project that forges a new partnership between the HDI and the UK College of Dentistry.

Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of HDI says, “This is a powerful collaboration with the potential to positively impact dental health for AAC users. The partnership shows how we can not only build capacity for success, but also bridge capacity across areas of expertise that ultimately builds stronger communities.

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Project Contact: Laura Butler
Photo by Cristina Romano

Kentucky Developmental Disabilities Network Logo

2020 Kentucky Joint Needs Assessment Survey

What is the survey about? Researchers at the University of Kentucky are looking at the needs of people with developmental disabilities in Kentucky. We know the needs vary by place, so we ask people across the state to help. We invite you to give your opinion about the issues affecting people with disabilities.

Who can complete the survey? Any person with a developmental disability or a medically complex condition, a family member of a person with developmental disability or with a medically complex condition, or a person who provides services to people with developmental disabilities and their families

How long will it take to complete the survey? It will take about 15-20 minutes to complete the survey.

Who will see my response? We hope to get surveys from about 600 people, so your answers are important to us. We are not asking any private questions and want only your opinion. Only the research team will see your answers. Your answers will be combined with other people’s answers and we will make sure that no one can tell who you are based on the survey results.

Am I required to complete the survey? No, you are not required to complete the survey. You can complete the survey only if you want to. You can quit the survey anytime. You can skip questions that you don’t feel like answering.

Is there any harm or benefit in completing the survey?  By completing the survey you are letting us know what things are important for people with developmental disabilities. There are no risks from completing the survey.

Do you need to help completing the survey? If you need help to complete this form or need another format, a staff member can help. Please leave a message at (859)257-8104.

Do you have questions about the survey? If you have questions about the survey, please contact Kathy Sheppard-Jones at (859)257-8104.

black graduation caps being thrown in the sunset sky

Kentucky Post School Outcome Center Begins Data Collection

The UK Human Development Institute (HDI) houses the Kentucky Post School Outcome Center (KyPSO) to increase the capacity of local school districts, teachers, parents, and adult service providers to provide exemplary transition planning and increase student success. This is accomplished through the collection and reporting of data related to post school plans and outcomes, and the provision of training and technical assistance.

The Kentucky Department of Education contracts with KyPSO to collect secondary data about students with disabilities to identify factors that may contribute to successful transition planning and outcomes. Data are collected through the “Youth One Year Out (YOYO)” former student interview. The YOYO includes a series of questions about post school employment and education, the student’s personal experiences, involvement with other agencies, living arrangements, and community engagement. The KyPSO staff collect and analyze the data to create reports for district, regional and state-level staff.

Visit or follow us on and Facebook at to learn more about KyPSO and its resources.

Project Contact:
Tony Lobianco, PhD

b/w photo of infant with black hair

HDI Awarded Project to Support Children and Families of the Opioid Epidemic

The University of Kentucky (UK) Human Development Institute (HDI) has been selected as a primary lead program for Project Supporting Children of the Opioid Epidemic (SCOPE). Project SCOPE will build needed provider capacity in Kentucky for the use of evidence-based practices in screening, monitoring, and interdisciplinary support for children impacted by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, trauma, and related exposures.

Project SCOPE in Kentucky will launch and support a leadership team, nurture a Community of Practice and utilize the ECHO training model. Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, HDI Executive Director, will serve as principal investigator and will lead the HDI project team that includes Dr. Caroline Gooden, Brandon Cannada, and Christine Hausman.

Project SCOPE partners include the UK Pathways Prenatal Program, Beyond Birth in the UK College of Nursing, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, Kentucky Department for Public Health, and the Kentucky Division of Behavioral Health.

Dr. Sheppard-Jones explains, “We see this as a critical step in building a solid structure of supports to address the needs of families and communities around opioid use disorder in Kentucky”.

Project Contact:
Kathy Sheppard-Jones, PhD

Kentucky Awarded Office of Disability Employment Policy VOICE Technical Assistance Grant

Kentucky has been awarded a Visionary Opportunities to Increase Competitive Employment (VOICE) Technical Assistance Grant by the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Kentucky will work with ODEP’s contractor, Econsys, on the grant. Kentucky will use these funds to develop strategies to increase the capacity of the provider community to support transformation from a center-based activity system to a community-based effort with an Employment First focus. This effort will emphasize both the traditional day and employment services provided through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Medicaid as well as the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment program, which serves people with behavioral health diagnoses and substance use issues. IPS supported employment was introduced in Kentucky in 2010 and currently has 19 IPS programs serving 76 counties. The latest information available shows that 3,264 Kentuckians are on the IPS caseloads with 1,070 people actively working in the community.

The Kentucky VOICE Leadership Team includes representatives from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, Workforce Investment Board, Department of Education, University of Kentucky Human Development Institute, and Medicaid.

Learn more about an array of projects, initiatives, and partnerships that are aligned to improve employment outcomes for Kentuckians with disabilities at

Project Contact: Lori Norton ( or Jeff White (