CRS receives grant to advance care for children with medical complexity

Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Networks (CoIINs) are multidisciplinary teams of federal, state, and local leaders working together to tackle a common problem. Last year, CRS was one of 10 states awarded a CoIIN to advance care for children with medical complexity (CMC). The grant, managed by the Boston University School of Pubic Health and supportedContinue reading “CRS receives grant to advance care for children with medical complexity”

A Q&A with retiring Executive Secretary LeAnne Bull

  Rehab news spoke with outgoing Executive Secretary LeAnne Bull – who has served under every commissioner since ADRS became a department in 1995 – a week before her retirement. A transcript of that conversation follows:   RN: LeAnne, you’ve been with our department for many years. What does “rehabilitation” mean to you?   Bull: When IContinue reading “A Q&A with retiring Executive Secretary LeAnne Bull”

Pilot program eyes college success for students with vision loss

A new ADRS College Prep program specifically for students who are blind or have low vision will debut this June at Auburn University. The two-week program – called College Quest – will host a dozen students from around Alabama, with at least one student from each of the seven workforce regions of the state, saidContinue reading “Pilot program eyes college success for students with vision loss”

Jefferson County businessman joins ADRS board

A prominent member of the Birmingham business community has been appointed to represent Congressional District 6 on the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services. Charles Wilkinson, the founder and chief executive officer of Human Resource Management Inc. (HRM), a consulting firm specializing in human resource management compliance, will represent business and industry on the seven-member board. HeContinue reading “Jefferson County businessman joins ADRS board”

Together Success: Diyari Askew (featured story + video)

When CRS Social Work Administrator Melissa Alexander first heard from Cassie Laird that her 8-year-old daughter’s one true wish was to be able to feed herself independently, she said, “Let’s try to make it happen.” Diyari Askew is a very bright and precocious second grader in Ms. Jacob’s class at W.O. Lance Elementary in Lanett.Continue reading “Together Success: Diyari Askew (featured story + video)”

Training helps first responders better understand mental illness, cognitive disabilities

Officers and first responders with Vestavia Hills Police Department are currently participating in a unique training program specifically designed to help them identify typical behaviors seen in persons with a broad range of cognitive disabilities and mental illnesses. Persons with cognitive disabilities or mental illnesses often have different reactions to stressful situations than persons withoutContinue reading “Training helps first responders better understand mental illness, cognitive disabilities”

ADRS consumer recognized during Gov. Ivey’s State of the State address

An ADRS consumer who was hired after attending last fall’s Governor’s Disability Job Fair was recognized during Gov. Kay Ivey’s State of the State address Jan. 9. While attending the fair, Caryn McDade met and interviewed with Southern Hospitality Home Health Care of Fultondale. By the end of the week, she was employed and trainingContinue reading “ADRS consumer recognized during Gov. Ivey’s State of the State address”

Statewide AGCEPD awards ceremony honors businesses, exceptional people with disabilities (photo gallery + video)

  The Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities honored the success and contributions of individuals with disabilities in the workforce and recognized businesses that provide opportunities for successful employment for people with disabilities. The winners were recognized at a Dec. 7 ceremony/reception in the Old Archives Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol.Continue reading “Statewide AGCEPD awards ceremony honors businesses, exceptional people with disabilities (photo gallery + video)”

33rd annual early intervention preschool conference a success

More than 500 professionals and parents attended the 33rd annual statewide Early Intervention and Preschool Conference in Huntsville Oct. 23-25. The 2 1/2 day conference offered more than 40 sessions, recommending practices for various early intervention and preschool services from birth to 5 years of age. Penny Foster, the parent of a child with DownContinue reading “33rd annual early intervention preschool conference a success”

Together Success: Ronald Witherspoon (featured story + video)

For Ronald Witherspoon, 2016 was a mixed bag of joy and sadness. Just a few months before becoming a father for the first time, the Mobile man was critically injured in a robbery attempt in a public park. “It was about 9, 10 o’clock, and I was standing outside on my phone,” said Ronald. “IContinue reading “Together Success: Ronald Witherspoon (featured story + video)”

Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson’s retirement reception (photo gallery + video)

Members of the Rehab Family gathered Sept. 29 to honor Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson for her more than 35 years of loyal service to Alabamians with disabilities. Friends, family, community partners, and colleagues as well as founding ADRS Commissioner Lamona Lucas gathered to celebrate Anderson’s many contributions as a passionate advocate for the creationContinue reading “Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson’s retirement reception (photo gallery + video)”

Leslie Dawson readies for Business Relations administrator role

With the Oct. 1 retirement of Statewide Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson, Leslie Dawson is preparing to fill some very big shoes. In August, ADRS Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw named Dawson to succeed Anderson as the department’s business relations administrator and a member of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). “I’m honored and humbled,” Dawson saidContinue reading “Leslie Dawson readies for Business Relations administrator role”

Together Success: Madelynn Pierce (featured story + video)

When you live in extreme rural Alabama, it can be difficult to find a true sense of community. But that’s exactly what Tony and Rhonda Pierce – who live in unincorporated Lawley in Chilton County – found at the CRS office in Selma. The couple’s granddaughter, Madelynn, has Warburg micro syndrome, a rare autosomal syndromeContinue reading “Together Success: Madelynn Pierce (featured story + video)”

CRS offices celebrate summer with events for families (photo gallery)

Children’s Rehabilitation Service offices throughout the state have hosted a number of family-focused events this summer. In Opelika, families from Chambers, Lee, Macon, Montgomery, Randolph, Russell, and Tallapoosa, counties celebrated the end of the school year at the School’s Out Bash. The annual event –  jointly sponsored by Opelika CRS, VRS, Computer Services, and theContinue reading “CRS offices celebrate summer with events for families (photo gallery)”

VR consumer gains work experience with man who saved his life

Two-and-a-half years after a surviving a horrific car crash, a Bibb County man is building work experience by volunteering at the fire department his family credits with saving his life. Dustin Rowe was ejected from the sunroof of his vehicle and thrown into a ravine when his car was side-swiped along a particularly bad portionContinue reading “VR consumer gains work experience with man who saved his life”

EI partners with Alabama reading initiative to ‘prescribe’ books to kids

A new partnership between Alabama’s Early Intervention System (AEIS) and Reach Out and Read Alabama is encouraging early learning through reading by offering books to children when visiting their pediatrician. The program – Rx for Summer Reading – works by identifying pediatric offices in Alabama’s counties of need. In turn, these doctor offices “prescribe” andContinue reading “EI partners with Alabama reading initiative to ‘prescribe’ books to kids”

Together Success: Pete Petro (featured story + video)

Though Duchenne muscular dystrophy has made life a constant battle for 22-year-old Pete Petro, he has never once allowed it to tamp down his dreams or ambitions. Rather, thanks to assistance from VR and SAIL, his visions of success have only grown more substantial. “Without ADRS, I don’t know if I would have been ableContinue reading “Together Success: Pete Petro (featured story + video)”

2017 YLF delegates target leadership, success (photo gallery + video)

  The 31 graduates of the 19th annual Alabama Governor’s Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) left Troy University better equipped to take charge of their own lives following the five-day event that focused on self-esteem, self-advocacy, career exploration, independent living, and assistive technology. “YLF provides an opportunity to empower young people with disabilities to fully realize their potentialContinue reading “2017 YLF delegates target leadership, success (photo gallery + video)”

Project SEARCH programs statewide hold commencement ceremonies (photo gallery)

Project SEARCH, the Alabama program launched in 2012 to provide students with significant disabilities professional work experience, held 10 graduations at different program sites statewide throughout the month of May. In total, 85 students across 10 Project SEARCH locations graduated this year. Of those 85, 62 had already accepted job offers by graduation day. TheContinue reading “Project SEARCH programs statewide hold commencement ceremonies (photo gallery)”

ADRS, Easter Seals open new Tuscaloosa facility (photo gallery + video)

Easter Seals West Alabama (ESWA) and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) recently hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration for their new state-of-the-art facility. The new building – located at 1400 James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway Drive East – features 56,000 square feet of office space and houses all four major ADRS programs – Alabama’s EarlyContinue reading “ADRS, Easter Seals open new Tuscaloosa facility (photo gallery + video)”

‘Early Intervention Week’ celebrates impact of services for children with disabilities

The seven districts of Alabama’s Early Intervention System (AEIS) held several special events for the week of April 17-21 to celebrate the vital role early intervention plays in the success of children with disabilities or developmental delays. The celebrations were part of “Early Intervention Week” in the state of Alabama. Former Gov. Robert Bentley signed aContinue reading “‘Early Intervention Week’ celebrates impact of services for children with disabilities”

Together Success: MacKenzie Reeves (featured story + video)

When Pamela Reeves was pregnant with her daughter MacKenzie, her obstetrician noticed that her legs were not forming as they should. “We didn’t fully understand the issue until after the delivery,” said Pamela. “I felt blindsided when I was told MacKenzie had PFFD.” PFFD – proximal femoral focal deficiency – is a rare, non-hereditary birth defect that affectsContinue reading “Together Success: MacKenzie Reeves (featured story + video)”

Summit unites families, professionals as ‘partners in care’ (photo gallery + video)

More than 100 attendees came to Prattville’s Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill Conference Center for the seventh annual Family Voices Partners In Care Summit, April 20-21. The two-day family/professional development workshop aims to strengthen networks between families and care professionals and spotlights current challenges to developing quality systems of care for children and youth withContinue reading “Summit unites families, professionals as ‘partners in care’ (photo gallery + video)”

Employment training conference brings ‘Carnival of Careers’ to Andalusia (photo gallery + video)

The Covington County Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities (CCCEPD) hosted its 11th annual Employment Training Conference for area youth April 11 in Andalusia. The one-day training connected more than 240 high school students with disabilities from 10 area schools with different and exciting employment opportunities to explore and expand their horizons within the community. Jobs in publicContinue reading “Employment training conference brings ‘Carnival of Careers’ to Andalusia (photo gallery + video)”

Floyd is ADRS’s new software development manager

ADRS Computer Services recently promoted a familiar face to be the department’s new software development manager. Beverly Floyd assumed her post, previously held by Clay Weaver, on March 16. “Right now, I’m really serving dual roles,” Floyd said, “Not only am I taking over for Clay, I’m also still wearing my project management hat. I’m busy, but it’sContinue reading “Floyd is ADRS’s new software development manager”

BRC teams with library to find gold at end of ‘Beautiful Rainbow’

When the Beautiful Rainbow Catering Company and Garden officially opened its doors inside the Gadsden Public Library on Valentine’s Day, it was a cause of celebration for everyone involved. The library café is the latest component of a larger garden-to-table education curriculum for adolescents and young adults with significant cognitive disabilities in the Gadsden City Schools. In addition to operating the area’sContinue reading “BRC teams with library to find gold at end of ‘Beautiful Rainbow’”

ADRS partners with AIDB to offer Structured Discovery program in Birmingham

The Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind recently opened its doors as the first Structured Discovery program offered in the state of Alabama. Located at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) Regional Center in downtown Birmingham, the nine-month training program offers people who are blind or have low vision an alternative to traditional independentContinue reading “ADRS partners with AIDB to offer Structured Discovery program in Birmingham”

Lee County parent joins ADRS board

A Lee County woman has been appointed to the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services. Penny Foster, an Auburn resident and Tuscaloosa native, will represent the 3rd Congressional District. Foster is the mother of three daughters, including 13-year-old Maggie, who has Down syndrome. Foster was appointed to the board by Gov. Robert Bentley and confirmed byContinue reading “Lee County parent joins ADRS board”

ADRS, AIDB, and AIDT collaborate to offer accessible Ready to Work program at E.H. Gentry

Alabama’s Ready-to-Work (RTW) program provides a career pathway for adults who have limited education and employment experience through 66 sites at 22 institutions. One of those sites – E.H. Gentry in Talladega – is now fully accessible and operational, representing the culmination of a two-year partnership between ADRS, Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), and the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB). TheContinue reading “ADRS, AIDB, and AIDT collaborate to offer accessible Ready to Work program at E.H. Gentry”

‘Mentoring Day’ preps Decatur-area high school students for next step (photo gallery)

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and Athens State University teamed up to host Mentoring Day, a transition event to prepare students with disabilities for life after high school. Approximately 130 students from nine area high schools attended yesterday’s event on the Athens State campus. Attendees participated in a career fair, campus tour, andContinue reading “‘Mentoring Day’ preps Decatur-area high school students for next step (photo gallery)”

‘Transition Unlimited’ unifies transition efforts statewide

A collaboration between ADRS and Auburn University to improve transition services to students is currently being implemented in every high school in the state. The Alabama pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) initiative – dubbed “Transition Unlimited” – is designed to build capacity and connect services to appropriately implement transition services throughout the state. Its goal is to provideContinue reading “‘Transition Unlimited’ unifies transition efforts statewide”

SAIL, Senior Services partner to provide meals to persons with significant disabilities

State of Alabama Independent Living recently formed a partnership with the Alabama Department of Senior Services to provide access to Meals on Wheels to qualifying individuals currently served by a SAIL Medicaid waiver, said SAIL Program Specialist Kathy Fountain. Senior Services Commissioner Neal Morrison approached Fountain to provide $50,000 in funding for SAIL to access theContinue reading “SAIL, Senior Services partner to provide meals to persons with significant disabilities”

VA Employer Summit a success

Nearly 90 representatives from more than 50 companies around the Southeast recently attended the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) Employer Breakfast Summit at Trenholm State Community College in Montgomery. With ADRS as a partner, the summit enabled employers to facilitate a discussion on hiring veterans with different organizations to support their efforts uponContinue reading “VA Employer Summit a success”

Congresswoman Sewell visits Selma ADRS office (photo gallery)

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who represents Alabama’s 7th district, toured the Selma CRS office Dec. 12 to visit with CRS families and observe a clinic. Following the clinic visit, she had the opportunity to learn more about ADRS and the services provided through our continuum when she met with Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw.

Ceremony awards businesses, exceptional people with disabilities (video, photo gallery)

The Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities – a program of ADRS – held a ceremony and reception Dec. 6 honoring the success and contributions of individuals with disabilities in the workforce and recognized businesses that provide opportunities for successful employment for people with disabilities. The event was in the Old ArchivesContinue reading “Ceremony awards businesses, exceptional people with disabilities (video, photo gallery)”

Muscle Shoals, Selma celebrate opening of new facilities (photo gallery)

  Last week, new ADRS facilities in Muscle Shoals and Selma opened their doors to the members of the community. At just over 5,000 square feet, the new home for CRS in the Shoals area offers more clinic space for families at one of the fastest-growing locations in the state. The 12,644-square-foot facility in downtownContinue reading “Muscle Shoals, Selma celebrate opening of new facilities (photo gallery)”

Smart Work Ethics training underway in Autauga County (photo gallery)

The Smart Work Ethics (SWE) training to develop better soft skills, good work habits and boost the employability of transition-age VR consumers is currently underway for students in Autauga County Schools. The eight-part comprehensive training series began in October and will continue through December for students at the Autauga County Technology Center in Prattville. Prattville’s SWEContinue reading “Smart Work Ethics training underway in Autauga County (photo gallery)”

Anniston’s fall festival frightfully fun for CRS families (photo gallery)

Anniston’s CRS office held their annual fall festival for children with disabilities on Oct. 26. Open to families served by CRS and Early Intervention and children from area schools, approximately 150 children enjoyed the games, food and fun at the event. Activities at the festival included a cake walk, bean bag throw, hoop toss, waterContinue reading “Anniston’s fall festival frightfully fun for CRS families (photo gallery)”

SAIL retreat focuses on team building (photo gallery)

The State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL) program staff retreat kicked off yesterday at the Orange Beach Hilton Garden Inn. The three-day training is focusing on team building and pertinent topics of interest like the Personal Choices program. Staff were also asked to make a full accessibility assessment of a restaurant of their choosing to report toContinue reading “SAIL retreat focuses on team building (photo gallery)”

Disability Mentoring Day targets career building, personal goal development (photo gallery)

ADRS held a unique one-day mentoring program for job seekers with disabilities Oct. 21 at Auburn Montgomery. Disability Mentoring Day provides an opportunity for enthusiastic students and job seekers who are ready to jump-start their careers to connect with business leaders in a meaningful way. Participants in the program evaluate personal goals, target career skills forContinue reading “Disability Mentoring Day targets career building, personal goal development (photo gallery)”

PETS training updates transition counselors

With final regulations for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) released, transition counselors recnetly received the latest information on Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) through a series of trainings offered at five different locations throughout the state, said Rehabilitation Specialist III Karen Jenkins. “We visited our offices and informed staff about the the five requiredContinue reading “PETS training updates transition counselors”

Montgomery, State Office CRS staff band together to help families get back to school

Montgomery CRS held a back-to-school drive in August and September to help area families start the school year off on the right foot. Several staff members in the Montgomery office “adopted” children in need by purchasing an individual child’s entire back-to-school shopping list. “I chose Moshope Arabi,” said CRS Speech-language Pathologist Program Specialist Sonia Cleckler. “She loved Disney’sContinue reading “Montgomery, State Office CRS staff band together to help families get back to school”

Jackson CRS community project to provide coats for kids

Parent Consultant Vivian Spears wants to ensure all kids have a warm coat this winter. As part of a community outreach, Jackson CRS will be offering free coats to the children and families they serve, and all ADRS staff are invited to donate. “When I was in the Tuscaloosa office, I held a coat drive after noticing severalContinue reading “Jackson CRS community project to provide coats for kids”

‘Personal Choices’ offers SAIL consumers more flexibility in care

State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL) service consumers statewide will soon have an option to play a much bigger role in making decisions concerning their own personal care. Set to roll out Oct. 1, Personal Choices will allow Medicaid waiver participants to choose whom to hire as their personal care attendants, when those attendants will work, and how much theyContinue reading “‘Personal Choices’ offers SAIL consumers more flexibility in care”

New software development process to improve efficiency, productivity

On Oct. 1, ADRS Computer Services will officially switch to a new software development methodology aimed to increase efficiency and productivity. The new approach – which is being implemented now through trials – is called “Scrum.” It is the best-known variant of several “agile” software development strategies. Agile software development is nimble and promotes adaptive planning, quick development, early delivery, and continuous improvement.Continue reading “New software development process to improve efficiency, productivity”

Francisco becomes new director of HRD

Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw recently named Tracy Francisco the department’s new director of Human Resource Development (HRD). Francisco’s promotion was effective Aug. 16. She joined ADRS in May 2015 as the department’s personnel manager. “When I first arrived at ADRS,” Francisco said, “it immediately felt like home to me. What excites me most about this promotion isContinue reading “Francisco becomes new director of HRD”

CRS updates Alabama families at State PAC meeting (photo gallery)

Families from across the state met with CRS and ADRS leaders yesterday at the State Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) to discuss current initiatives. Following a welcome from State Parent Consultant Susan Colburn, ADRS Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw introduced herself and spoke about her career in rehabilitation. As guest speaker, Robin Rawls, communications director for AlabamaContinue reading “CRS updates Alabama families at State PAC meeting (photo gallery)”

Gov. Bentley tours Montgomery CRS seizure clinic (photo gallery)

  Governor Robert Bentley on Wednesday toured the Children’s Rehabilitation Service Seizure Clinic in Montgomery. Governor Bentley met with some doctors and families impacted by Medicaid funds. In FY 2016, Children’s Rehabilitation Service (CRS) has received $12,124,985 in Medicaid reimbursements which accounts for 43% of the total CRS budget.

Video to showcase ADRS Business Relations versatility

A video project that will be used as part of a best practices toolkit for the 80 vocational rehabilitation agencies nationwide will feature several Alabama businesses as partners of the ADRS Business Relations Program. Once completed, the video – entitled Focus on Alabama: Business Engagement at Five Phases – will serve as a companion to a toolkit on the five differentContinue reading “Video to showcase ADRS Business Relations versatility”