Harold Kleinert with white hair and beard smiling at the camera wearing a pink shirt and blue tie.

HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Harold Kleinert

I was absolutely blessed to have had the opportunity to work at HDI.  I cannot imagine a better organizational mission than that of HDI for what I had hoped for my own career  – to work with leaders in the field at both the state and national levels; to partner with families, self-advocates, teachers, and other professionals on the front lines of quality services;  and to have had the chance to have taught a wonderful set of students here at UK. —Harold Kleinert, HDI Director Emeritus

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Two men with Down syndrome working on their phones.

Spring Seminar: Employment for Youth with Disabilities: Seeing a Brighter Future

“As an employer, I’ve been fortunate to have employees with intellectual disabilities who meaningfully contribute to our programs, and as a mother, I have been so proud of my own son with Down syndrome as he has worked in the community at a grocery store and is also working toward a career as a photographer, and I don’t think these are isolated cases of what success can look like. People with intellectual disabilities have much to offer when given the opportunity!” – Stephanie Meredith

Our Spring Seminar on “Employment for Youth with Disabilities: Seeing a Brighter Future” was held on Thursday, March 21, 2019 from 6:30 – 8:30pm ET, and it’s available now online.

The seminar was held at the UK Coldstream Research Campus Human Development Institute Training Room 1525 Bull Lea Road, Lexington KY. A link to the live video stream of the seminar was sent to registrants. Continue reading

Two men with Down syndrome in a meeting.

Research Brief Fall 2017: A Statewide Community Conversation about Post-School Employment for Kentucky Youth with the Most Significant Disabilities

by Chithra Adams, Harold Kleinert, Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Amanda Corbin & Malachy Bishop

Young adults with disabilities face multiple challenges in obtaining successful post-school employment outcomes. This situation has remained relatively unchanged despite nearly 25 years of federal attention to the issue, including mandated transition services and a series of additional significant legislative responses. Recent research by Carter, Austin, and Trainor (2012) highlighted the severity of the situation, showing that “just 26% of recent graduates with severe disabilities were working for pay in their community up to 2 years after leaving high school” and 43% of those who were employed “held jobs in which most other workers had disabilities” (Carter et al., 2016, p. 398).

KentuckyWorks is a five-year systems change grant project designed to directly impact post-school outcomes for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Kentucky. KentuckyWorks is a collaborative, multi-partner project that aims to impact youth outcomes within each of the state’s 174 school districts, and the target population is defined as all KY transition-age students with the most significant disabilities. The goal is to increase positive post-school outcomes (integrated employment, participation in post-secondary education, or both) for students with the most significant disabilities in the state by 20 percentage points over the five years of this grant.

Read the Research Brief.

Boy with Jacobsen syndrome

Research Brief Spring 2017

Having a Son or Daughter with Jacobsen Syndrome/11q Deletion Syndrome: Perspectives of Parents

by Stephanie Meredith, Anthony Lobianco & Harold Kleinert

Jacobsen syndrome (JS) is a rare genetic condition that often causes intellectual disabilities and health issues and has recently been added to various cell-free DNA prenatal screening tests. This condition often includes multiple physical features, a blood disorder, serious congenital heart defects in about 56% of patients, and a range of intellectual disabilities (ID). Individuals may also experience mild to moderate impairment in expressive language, vision problems, digestive issues; and common infections of the upper respiratory system [Grossfeld, 2004]. However, because JS is relatively rare, psychosocial research has never been performed on this population. Correspondingly, a patient education resource about this condition has not yet been published that reflects “the medical and psychosocial implications of the diagnosis” identified as a priority in the ACMG guidelines when providing information to prospective parents learning about screening results.

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Photo of people at the Kentucky Transition Summit

Kentucky Transition Summit Brings Community Together to Shares Ideas About Employment for Youth with Disabilities

“The author Zig Ziglar was often quoted as saying, ‘the first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it exists.’  At the Kentucky Transition Summit we were joined by nearly one hundred-fifty concerned students, advocates, educators, administrators, and family members who took the first step by recognizing that we simply do not do enough to help our students with the most significant disabilities take their role in the workplace or in continuing education. They then took the next step by helping us identify four to five hundred ideas that could move us toward solving the problem.” Jeff White, KentuckyWorks Project Director

The Inaugural KentuckyWorks Transition Summit and Community Conversation took place on February 28 in Frankfort. Representatives from across the state packed into the large conference room at the Administrative Office of the Courts Building to begin a dialogue as to how to improve job outcomes for students with disabilities transitioning from school to the workforce. More than 150 participants, made up of educators, service providers, agency liaisons, parents and students, attended.  Continue reading