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)
There are gonna be tough days but never forget why you are here, what HDI stands for, and never give up when it comes to making a difference in people’s lives!
Lori Norton, Project Director/IPS SE Trainer
How did you come to know HDI?
Working and collaborating with staff (great people) at HDI.
How long have you been at HDI and what is your role?
I started with HDI in 2007 with the Community Work Transition Program. Since 2010, I have been an an IPS Supported Employment Trainer, and then moved in the Project Director/IPS SE Trainer role.
During your time at HDI, of which accomplishments are you most proud?
Implementing a new project in KY, IPS Supported Employment, it really looks at how work is a part of a person’s recovery. Eligibility is based on client choice regardless of past work history, hospitalizations, justice involvement, any job readiness factors. When someone says they want to work, we move forward. I love that it is a strengths based approach, focuses on what people can do, and honors people’s preferences. What I am most proud of is that people are being referred to IPS and not excluded due to job readiness factors. I’ve seen many lives change from going to work!! Work is so much more than just a job! My motto is: A label does not define me or who I am meant to be!!!
What do you think the future holds for HDI?
HDI has a rich history of making real change for people and for systems. I believe HDI will be on the forefront of leading the way to continue to promote the inclusion, independence and contributions of people with disabilities!
What does HDI mean to you?
I believe in and love everything that HDI stands for to promote the inclusion, independence, and contributions of people with disabilities. This is not just a job to me, this is my purpose. I am thankful to be a part of such a great organization that gives me an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives every day!!