Center for Disability Research and Service wins Supported Employment Grant

October 15, 2014

Christine Fleming, CDRS executive director.
Christine Fleming, CDRS executive director.

The Center for Disability Research and Service (CDRS), part of the College of Education’s Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling, recently received a large grant as part of a team that will address and implement a wide range of services and supports related to supported employment in Alabama. The total grant award of $4 million was made to the Alabama Department of Mental Health. CDRS will receive a sub-award for independent program evaluation in the amount of $400,000 over a 60-month period.

“The grant opportunity was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,” said Christine Fleming, executive director of the CDRS, and principal investigator for the sub-award of the project. “Entitled ‘Transforming Lives through Supported Employment in Alabama,’ the CDRS will be the independent external third party involved in this project. We will perform fidelity reviews, and obtain unbiased feedback and input for improving program outcomes.”

Supported employment is generally defined as an approach to helping people with the most significant disabilities participate in the competitive labor market, helping them find meaningful jobs, and providing ongoing support from a team of professionals. The CDRS has great expertise in the theory, practice, and implementation of supported employment. The program evaluation will integrate both quantitative and qualitative approaches to determine program progress and assess outcomes. Fleming will work closely on the project with Professor Marie Kraska from the COE’s Department Educational Foundations, Leadership and Technology and Research Director at the CDRS.

According to information in the award notification, the project will:

– Oversee the implementation of the Individual and Placement Support (IPS) model of supported employment in Alabama, coordinate cross-agency collaborations and provide guidance to IPS policy development and create a financial plan to ensure sustainability;

– Create and oversee the development and implementation of a comprehensive and permanent IPS supported employment training and technical assistance program;

– Create and oversee the development and implementation of high fidelity IPS SE programs in two pilot communities, providing access to IPS for at least 450 consumers over the five-year period; and

– Provide outreach to veterans in Alabama to ensure all veterans in need of mental health services who prefer to seek treatment at local community mental health centers have the opportunity to participate in IPS service from an Alabama community mental health provider.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to work with the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services on this grant,” Fleming said. “We have a long history of working to improve supported employment in Alabama and we think this project will do much to develop employment opportunities for Alabamians with the most significant disabilities.”

Story by George Littleton with photo by Scott Godwin