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Addressing Education and Postsecondary Inequities for Kentucky Students with Intellectual Disabilities

On May 20, 2021, the University of Kentucky submitted application to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid to establish a Comprehensive Transition & Postsecondary (CTP) Program for students with intellectual disabilities (ID). Upon approval, this program – which will be known as UK-SHEP (University of Kentucky Supported Higher Education Partnership) – will begin accepting applications for admission.

CTPs were created by the Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) and are higher education programs for students with ID who want to continue academic, career and technical, and independent living instruction in order to prepare for competitive integrated employment.

The underrepresentation of students with ID in higher education is a longstanding and pervasive problem in Kentucky, one that presents both an economic challenge and opportunity for our state. As an Employment First state, Kentucky is committed to ensuring that competitive integrated employment is the first and preferred option for citizens with disabilities, and we expect the UK-SHEP will contribute positively toward building a truly inclusive workforce in Kentucky.

As the state’s flagship University and home to the Human Development Institute (HDI) –  our state’s University Center on Disability – UK is uniquely positioned to implement and sustain a CTP program. HDI is also the statewide technical assistance center supporting three current CTP programs (Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, and Bluegrass Community & Technical College), and a resource to other Kentucky institutions of higher education interested in establishing a program.

UK-SHEP will provide students with ID a fully inclusive college experience which will better prepare them for competitive integrated employment and independent living.

What will this mean for current students and instructors at UK?

The addition of a CTP program will not change any current courses or the way they are taught. Rather, the same courses that are currently offered will continue to be offered. The biggest change you may see is the inclusion of students with ID on campus – perhaps in one of your classes, or in other areas of student life. With chosen supports and person-centered planning, UK-SHEP students will engage in all areas of campus life, from classes to clubs to social events and activities.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of HDI, said, “The UK-SHEP will advance our efforts to address the inequities that have disproportionately characterized the education and postsecondary life of Kentucky students with ID.”

If you would like to learn more about the proposed UK-SHEP program or about HDI’s role in supporting this work, please contact Erin Fitzgerald (Erin.Fitzgerald@uky.edu) or Johnny Collett (Johnny.Collett@uky.edu) for more information.

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 kyretain.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Program Contact: Beth.Potter@uky.edu.

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Morgan Turner leads presentation at the Dignity of Work International Forum

HDI Program Education Assistant, Morgan Turner, recently presented at the Dignity of Work International Forum sponsored by the Institute on Community Integration. In his presentation, Morgan’s Musings: My Successful Journey to Inclusive Employment in Higher Education, Morgan shared his experience as a person with a disability in finding, maintaining, and thriving in employment. Morgan was joined by co-presenters and HDI colleagues, Johnny Collett and Austin Nugent for a panel discussion about advocacy and strategies to improve employment and awareness.

As an Employment First state, Kentucky is committed to supporting competitive integrated employment as the first and primary option for our citizens with disabilities, regardless of their level of disability. As the state’s University Center of Excellence on Disabilities, the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) has served as a major thought leader regarding the lived experiences of people with disabilities for over 50 years and is committed to improving the inclusion, independence, opportunity and contribution of people with disabilities and their families throughout the lifespan.

Johnny Collett, HDI Deputy Director, says “Morgan’s knowledge, skills, values, dispositions, and experiences demonstrate what it means to live out the mission of the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute. Additionally, his achievements and leadership in supporting other people with disabilities to be successful exemplify the promise of Kentucky’s Employment First policy and what we envision for all Kentucky citizens with disabilities”.

Learn more about Morgan’s Musings or contact Morgan.Turner@uky.edu.

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Delivering on the Promise of Employment First for Students with Significant Disabilities

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute – HDI, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation are pleased to announce Delivering on the Promise of Employment First for Students with Significant Disabilities, a four-part webinar series designed to support Kentucky school districts in their efforts to create meaningful work experiences leading to competitive integrated employment for students with significant disabilities. The webinar series will present learning from work with schools, employers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, parents and families, and will include tools and processes to support students with significant disabilities in obtaining competitive integrated employment.

Each webinar will be one (1) hour and will begin at 4:00pm EST/ 3:00pm CST.Register for each session at the links provided below:

January 20, 2021 | Charting a Course Toward Improved Outcomes | https://bit.ly/35pMhM5

February 3, 2021 | Student Engagement | https://bit.ly/2UhXWGo

February 17, 2021 | Family Engagement | https://bit.ly/38zmYJ5

March 3, 2021 | Employer Engagement | https://bit.ly/3f0DdjX

Questions? Contact Johnny.Collett@uky.edu.

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RETAIN Kentucky Partners With UK to Expand Service Area

When individuals leave the labor force because they become sick or have a non-work-related injury, it can be detrimental for them, their families, employers and the economy. Workers experience adverse effects on their health, family finances and quality of life. Employers lose valuable talent, productivity and incur the expense of recruiting and retraining staff. Research shows that many of these injured or ill workers could remain in their jobs or the workforce with timely and effective help.

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) and committed project partners are bringing return to work and stay at work early intervention strategies to faculty, staff and student employees at UK. This collaborative effort, RETAIN Kentucky, supports employees who have had a non-work-related injury or illness that puts them at risk of leaving the workforce. These services enhance and build upon on the comprehensive health and wellness program provided to university employees and support a diverse and inclusive workforce.

 “We know all too well that injuries and illnesses can change a person’s life in an instant. RETAIN Kentucky lets us highlight proven strategies that can help keep people working,” says Kathy Sheppard-Jones, principal investigator for UK’s RETAIN program and executive director of the HDI. “The resources of RETAIN can help support UK employees and keep our flagship forging ahead at full power.”

Kim Wilson, vice president and chief human resources officer for UK agrees. “We are excited to partner on the RETAIN initiative, which will benefit both injured and ill workers in our community as well as our institution. We’re grateful to have HDI within our UK community.”

RETAIN Kentucky coordinators provide support and assistance including resource referral and health care navigation, community referral services to support basic needs, vocational counseling, assistive technology assessments and peer support. Services can be delivered face-to-face or remotely through telephone and virtual meetings.

If you are an employee who may benefit from these services or a health care provider who wants to help your patients, call 859-562-3251 or email RETAIN@uky.edu

RETAIN Kentucky services are also available for employers throughout Central Kentucky. Employers who are interested in learning additional strategies that build an inclusive and diverse workforce can call Shirley Kron, RETAIN Kentucky director of outreach and engagement, at 502-541-5314 or email Shirley.Kron@uky.edu.

RETAIN Kentucky is funded by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy in the amount of $3.5 million under Cooperative Agreement No. OD-32548-18-75-4-21. This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.