Photo of Mineral Industries Building with UK blue overlay and UK HDI logo in white

HDI Receives Notice of Awards

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) received notice of award of a five-year grant from the Administration for Community Living to better serve Kentuckians who experience co-occurring mental health and intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Kentucky Mental Health, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (KY-MHIDD) Training Initiative will let us hone our work from the National Training Initiative that was co-lead with Utah State and Alaska. The goal is to increase understanding and improve implementation of person-centered, culturally relevant services and referral systems. Existing supports will be strengthened and integrated, addressing racial, health (including COVID-19 pandemic), and economic inequities in underserved communities. This is a partnership grant that includes people with disabilities, family members, state agencies, organizations and other stakeholders. Kristen Dahl, Dr. Chithra Adams and Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones will represent HDI in this important work.

The HDI is also working with the Child Neurology Foundation to review the materials they provide to help families and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities navigate the transition from pediatric to adult healthcare system. Laura Butler, Bev Harp and contractors with HDI will review print and web-based content to identify accessibility issues and potentially ableist language or images. HDI will also conduct a training for Child Neurology Foundation staff and provide a resource guide for the development of new materials.

Virtual Retreat

HDI receives Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Grant

A team of HDI staff including Dr. Chithra Adams, Jason Jones, Lindsey Mullis and Abby Marsh have received $50,000 through Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s 2020 COVID-19 Quality of Life grants program, funded through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living. Their proposal, Recharging Resiliency Together-Virtual Retreat will help people with paralysis recharge their resilience and provide the necessary connections and supports that are needed to navigate in a COVID-19 environment.

This series of virtual retreats will be accompanied by three follow up group calls to build upon the skills learned during the retreat and to build a tightknit group of peers (pods) who are supportive of one another. Each session in the retreat will be universally designed, accessible and have expert presentation followed by a group activity. The purpose of the group activity is to participate in real time sense-making about how strategies presented can be used presently or in the future.

Contact for more information.

Survey key on a keyboard

National Survey of People with Disabilities and COVID-19

The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to a worldwide pandemic. Understanding how people with disabilities have been affected by COVID-19 is important as we navigate this unprecedented time. In July 2020, roughly four months after states began providing guidance in response to spread of the virus, 990 adults with disabilities from age 18 to 85 across the United States reported on topics related to how COVID-19 was affecting their lives.

The UK Human Development Institute and the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities collaborated to address survey participant results about knowledge of healthcare access and rights and technology access and use. Visit the product section of the HDI Research and Evaluation page to learn more.

Contact: Dr. Chithra Adams at with any questions or for additional information.

Staff Photo of Chithra Adams

HDI Evaluation Unit expands Portfolio

Under the leadership of Dr. Chithra Adams, the HDI Evaluation Unit helps program staff, policy makers, and researchers understand how their work impacts policies, practice and the lives of others. The Unit has recently been awarded the following projects:

#TeamKentucky Emergency Grant to Address Mental Health and Substance Use grant will provide direct services to the following populations: (1) homeless individuals and families being housed in temporary shelters; (2) individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) including those with co-occurring SMI and substance use disorders (SUD) who are at risk of entering one of Kentucky’s four state adult psychiatric hospitals and those who are being discharged from a state adult psychiatric hospital and in need of transitional housing to self-isolate; (3) healthcare professionals and their families who require mental health care as a result of COVID-19; and (4) individuals impacted by COVID-19 pandemic who are experiencing mental health disorders less severe than SMI.

The Kentucky Disaster Behavioral Health Response Grant will provide crisis services, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, recovery services, and other related supports to adults and school-aged children in 21 counties in the Appalachian region of Kentucky impacted by natural disasters during 2019.

Freedom House Southeastern KY: Based in Manchester in Clay County, KY, VOA Mid-States’ proposed project will expand services for pregnant and postpartum (up to 12 months) women aged 18+ annually seeking treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) with an emphasis on opiate use disorder and their infant and minor children age 17 and under. The widely-lauded, comprehensive, evidence-based approach will promote long-term recovery and safe, healthy, stable families

TN State Professional Development Grant: The TN SPDG will focus on increased graduation rates and postsecondary opportunities available to Tennessee students with complex needs including academic and communication skills. We anticipate a shift in high school culture to an inclusive mindset, all students engaged in meaningful grade level instruction, and the high quality use of instructional practices to meaningfully engage and teach diverse learners.

HDI will provide evaluation for the Kentucky Department of Aging and Independent Living’s new grant – Food for Thought: Equipping Senior Centers for the Next Emergency. The goal of this funding is to prepare the aging network to respond to catastrophic emergencies using strategies, actions and plans that have been tested in the aftermath of the only real-life pandemic experience within the last century. 

The HDI Evaluation Unit also will do the field work for the Consumer Satisfaction Survey (PI: Katie Wolf Whaley), ASL Intepreting Services (PI: Beth Potter), and the Statewide Needs Assessment project for the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Contact for more information.

3 people standing in front of book stacks holding books

Kentucky awarded an OSEP Educational Leadership Grant

The Kentucky LEADS (Leading, Educating, Advocating-Directors of Special Education) Academy grant from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) focuses on leadership development, recruitment and retention.  In partnership with UK’s Human Development Institute, Kentucky’s Part C, Early Intervention Services, Morehead State University, Western Kentucky University, and Murray State University, the Kentucky Parent Training and Information (PTI) center along with regional and National Technical Assistance Centers, the Kentucky LEADS Academy will address three goals: Goal 1(Recruit):  Increase the number of persons who attain the state’s initial level of Advanced Educational Leader- Director of Special Education certification to ensure that there is an adequate pipeline of eligible applicants to serve as state, regional, and local special education leaders to promote high expectations and improve early childhood and educational outcomes for children with disabilities and their families, Goal 2 (Retain): Increase and nurture the number of persons whose job description includes supervising, directing, administering, or coordinating special education programs who have attained the state’s highest level of Advanced Educational Leader- Director of Special Education certification, Goal 3 (Increase Capacity): Expand and enhance the existing state network to ensure that state,  regional, and local leaders have the knowledge, skills, and access necessary to improve early childhood and educational outcomes for children with disabilities and their families through the systems that serve them. 

Contact Dr. Mike Abell at for more information.