Shirley wearing a black, white, and red shirt smiling at the camera in front of trees

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.

Smiling woman with long brown hair.

The Rehabilitation Services Administration Funds Partnership to establish Technical Assistance Center on Quality Employment

In concert with the University of Wisconsin and other committed partners, the University of Kentucky (UK) Human Development Institute (HDI) is part of the new Technical Assistance Center (TAC) on Quality Employment. Christina Bard, Community Education Director and Dr. Phil Rumrill, Director of Research and Training, will lead HDI’s involvement in this five-year project to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

The TAC will work closely with partners, state vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs, employers, disability advocacy organizations, and other national-level employment and disability resources to provide customized training and credential programs to meet employer demands in the post-COVID-19 economy.  The TAC will emphasize career pathways for STEM fields, apprenticeships, supported and customized employment, self-employment and business engagement.

The UKHDI will also lead the TAC team in conducting a comprehensive national needs assessment of state VR agencies regarding high-priority quality employment areas that should be the focus of technical assistance, pre-service training, and continuing education for VR counselors, college and university personnel, community rehabilitation providers, and other stakeholders in total workplace inclusion. In keeping with the ideals of Participatory Action Research, all UKHDI training, technical assistance, and credentialing efforts will be guided by input and direction from members of the disability community. 

Contact Christina.Bard@uky.edu if you have any questions.

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 https://hdi.uky.edu/category/priority-area/employment.

Project Contact: Lori Norton (Lori.Norton@uky.edu) or Jeff White (Jeff.White@ky.gov)

1-2-2020

Logo ISAW

Innovative Supports for Autistic Workers: Expanding Employment Opportunities

Innovative Supports for Autistic Workers (ISAW) began as a project to educate and support Kentucky Career Centers’ Business Service Teams in their understanding of issues relevant to autism and employment. In 2017, ISAW made its services available to all human resource professionals in the state. Through consultation, face-to-face training sessions, web-based modules, and ongoing services and supports, employers will be able to increase their competence and confidence in hiring and supervising workers on the autism spectrum.
Innovative Supports for Autistic Workers trainings are provided at no cost and can be delivered at a convenient location or by webinar. Participants will increase their skills and knowledge about interview techniques, problem solving, accommodations, and many other topics.
These trainings were developed by Bev Harp, whose understanding of autism comes from personal experience, peer-reviewed literature, and experience working with other autistic adults. Bev explains,

Unemployment is a huge problem for autistic adults nationwide. In Kentucky, unemployment rates hover around 85%, higher than any other disability. With this project, we want to address the reservations that employers may have, as well as preconceived ideas about autism and what autistic workers are able to do. There is a level of discomfort, even for some diversity-minded employers, with unfamiliar body language, or unusual ways of communication. With ISAW, we talk about some of the reasons behind autistic differences and provide opportunities for employers to ask questions. For some employers we’ve worked with, this is the first time they have ever (knowingly) engaged with autistic adults in the workplace. This is such an important step, getting to know us, recognizing that our skills and interests are as diverse as those of any other group. Autistic workers can bring unique perspectives and talents that businesses need. ISAW is here to help make those connections. Continue reading

Evan Miracle sitting in a chair and smiling at camera

Project E3: Video Profiles of People with Disabilities Employed in Kentucky 

by Patti Logsdon
Rural communities encounter unique challenges for people with disabilities in achieving competitive, integrated, and lasting employment, as well as community participation and integration. Project E3 is a Vocational Rehabilitation technical assistance project that aims to help people with disabilities from underserved, economically disadvantaged communities throughout the country achieve their independent living and employment goals.  
Kentucky has two targeted communities – which are defined as rural and remote, and have high poverty levels – that receive intensive technical assistance, enabling State VR agencies and partner organizations to improve outreach and employment-related services to underserved individuals with disabilities. The interventions have been developed around addressing identified barriers to employment and community integration. In Kentucky, we are working with two groups: transition age youth (16-24) with developmental disabilities and/or specific sensory impairments such as blindness or deafness, and people of all ages with mental health diagnoses. Continue reading