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

Project Contact: Lori Norton ( or Jeff White (


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50th Anniversary Spotlight on Jeff White

HDI is a place where opportunity and possibility meet to make change possible; a place where collaborators of varying backgrounds and perspectives join to address challenges that none of us alone could conquer; a place where disappointment goes to perish.

Jeff White – Project Director

How did you come to know HDI?
My first exposure to HDI was incidental to exploration of the Agribility Program with an eye toward replicating it in another state.

How long have you been at HDI and what is your role?
I came to work for HDI in July 2001 as an Area Administrator for the SCL program.

During your time at HDI, of which accomplishments are you most proud?
I am most proud of the fact that after failing to receive a Partnership in Employment Grant during our first attempt we remained bold, positive, and aggressive and were successful with our second attempt.

Do you have any advice for current and future staff and students at HDI?
You are fortunate to work in a place where dreams can come true. Be bold but realistic and work hard to make your mark on your community.

What do you think the future holds for HDI?
I think that HDI will soon be recognized as Kentucky’s leader in advocacy and support for people with all disabilities.

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Transportation Initiative Seeks to Find Solutions for Rural Kentucky

KentuckyWorks and Kentucky E3TC held a joint community conversation on March 20 in Jackson, Kentucky. The goal of the activity was to bring together a diverse group of concerned citizens in the Breathitt County area to examine what could be done to increase transportation options for people with disabilities. Our expectation is that success with this task will result in an increase in inclusion.

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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