This project is funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities through the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and will collaborate closely with Think College at the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Kansas Employment First has effectively enhanced expectations and impacted efforts at systems change aimed at improving employment outcomes for individuals with intellectual or other developmental disabilities (I/DD). However, limited knowledge of exemplary post-secondary programs and a lack of concrete opportunities for collaborative practice, work against the emergence of a cohesive effort to address this systemic issue. Through a new grant, Kathleen Olson and Wendy Parent-Johnson from Kansas University's Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD) and Richard Parent-Johnson from the Center for Research on Learning, in collaboration with other key partnering agencies will implement a "Think College Kansas Initiative" by hosting an initial stakeholder meeting, conducting on-going Workgroup sessions, disseminating information to all relevant audiences across the state, facilitating the development of a state strategic action plan, and sponsoring a statewide promotional event. Engagement of self-advocates, including those who have an interest and/or experience with postsecondary education, is a priority for all activities.
The entire process will begin with an initial stakeholder meeting where successful evidence-based practices will be shared, a state vision defined, and participants will brainstorm critical state-specific issues and solutions. Results from this meeting will guide the workgroup agenda for the following nine months of activities. The Workgroup will meet bimonthly to articulate identified barriers, address policy and implementation issues, map community and state resources, define opportunities for interagency collaboration, and explore funding streams that can be blended to support the development of inclusive post-secondary experiences for students with I/DD.
Conclusions and recommendations from the workgroup will be shared at a culminating Think College Kansas promotional event where an expanded audience of stakeholders will provide input and feedback assuring the validity of the proposed plan and functioning as a kick off of continued events following completion of the proposed project. The result of this final collaborative event will be the development of a sustainable state action plan for implementing post-secondary experiences for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities that maximizes resources and removes existing barriers to PSE, and increases PSE opportunities leading to paid employment for Kansans with I/DD.