two women and one man seated at a table with blue tablecloths on it. They are seated in front of the American and Kentucky flags. The woman on the left has blonde hair, is wearing a light blue top and sweater. The 2nd woman is wearing a navy blue dress; and the man is wearing a navy blue jacket and a yellow tie.

RETAIN Kentucky Receives Grant to Expand Services

The UK Human Development Institute Executive Director, Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones joins Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman and UK President Eli Capilouto to announce the state has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to boost efforts to help newly injured and ill employees remain at or return to work. The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute will work in collaboration with the Office of Research, Human Resources, and UK Healthcare to lead RETAIN’s implementation.

The federal funding will enable RETAIN Kentucky to expand implementation statewide, address enduring implications that COVID-19 will have on the physical and mental health of Kentucky’s workforce, expand a multisystems leadership team that will advise on policies and practices that promote an inclusive, healthy workforce, and develop pre-professional and continuing education training in return-to-work/stay-at-work strategies.

In a state where roughly one-third of adults have a physical or mental impairment, we need to deploy strategies intentionally that will help us build and strengthen a workforce that is inclusive of all Kentuckians,” said Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of HDI.

To learn more about RETAIN in Kentucky, visit or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Program Contact:

staff photo of Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones

Dr. Sheppard-Jones selected for UK Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team

Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of the UK Human Development Institute and adjunct assistant professor of the College of Education, has been selected as a member of the University of Kentucky Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team.  This team supports the execution of a comprehensive, enterprise-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Implementation Plan that was recently announced by the University.

The entirety of research and scholarly activity of the Human Development Institute centers around inclusion and disability, within our mission and priority areas. Much of this work focuses on social justice issues such as enhanced employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, equitable access to child care, education, assistive technology and health disparities in under-represented populations.

You can follow the progress of the UK Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team at




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

Photo of Kentucky state capitol.

Kentucky Workforce Landscape Holds Promise for People with Disabilities

Employment is an expectation. Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 furthered that expectation for people with disabilities across the country. In Kentucky, the last few years have brought added impetus through several notable employment initiatives. In 2017, the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force was convened to create responses to barriers for populations that include people with disabilities. Results of Kentucky Work Matters efforts included the Governor signing an executive order, making Kentucky an Employment First state in 2018.

Employment First means that if a person with a disability wants to work, employment shall be the first and preferred option. While the notion of Employment First is simple, carrying out the mandate in the Commonwealth will be challenging. A newly formed Kentuckyworks Collaborative, consisting of a cross section of leaders from business, education and state government are working to carry out a state strategic plan that will promote workforce development, enhance employer engagement, provide lifelong learning for Kentuckians, and align existing resources and organizations. Many elements of the Employment First executive order are also found in the objectives of the Collaborative.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute explains, “In our society, we largely define who we are by the work that we do, regardless of whether we have a disability or not. We have an opportunity right now to build collaboration around employment to create a stronger workforce that is inclusive of all people.”

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AUCD 2016 Conference Report from HDI

HDI staff recently attended the Association of University Centers on Disabilities 2016 Conference in December and also actively contributed to the conference through sessions, posters, and increased attendance by trainees.

Dr. Harold Kleinert contributed to a panel on inclusive education and participated in a poster about “Building Capacity and Vision Among Faith Communities, Seminaries, and Disability Organizations.” In addition, Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Dr. Allie Rhodes and Marylee Underwood shared a poster on “Using Statewide Needs Assessment  Continue reading