by Amanda Corbin
Education and early intervention, self-advocacy, employment, housing, transportation, childcare, and community supports were all listed as areas of need by service providers, family members and self-advocates in the statewide 2017 Joint Needs Assessment Survey.
A report prepared by the evaluation unit at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) highlights survey respondents’ concerns. In late summer 2017, the Commonwealth Council for Developmental Disabilities, Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, and HDI developed a needs assessment to identify areas of high need for people with disabilities in Kentucky to assist in agency planning. Surveys were completed by self-advocates, family members, and service providers from across the state. The survey included open‐ended questions to gather information on specific issues that individuals faced.
All three groups cited employment and self-advocacy as areas of high need. Self-advocates also considered community supports and education to be of high-level need. Family members additionally rated housing and education as areas of high need, while service providers cited transportation and childcare in addition to self-advocacy and employment.
Survey respondents cited several barriers to employment, among them lack of transportation, need for support services, challenges with social security and SSI rules, and employers being unwilling to hire people with disabilities. One self-advocate summed up the situation this way:
“People with disabilities face low expectations of employers, providers, family and friends. Employment should be expected, strived for, and modeled from the earliest ages. We must improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in Kentucky. We are a much-needed element of the workforce.”
Issues surrounding self-advocacy included scarcity of advocacy groups in certain areas; complexity of paperwork and programming; lack of transportation, need for information, support, or resources; and lack of leadership, mentors, and disability pride. One service provider said, “Individuals with disabilities have difficulty advocating for themselves to ensure their needs are met. Often times they are not aware of what resources are available, [don’t] know how to access them, and have difficulty communicating with others to advocate for themselves.”
To read the full Joint Needs Assessment report, click here.