November 05, 2008

Rehabilitation Institute captures federal grant

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A federal grant totaling more than $820,000 will allow the Rehabilitation Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to provide technical assistance and ongoing training to rehabilitation providers in Illinois and five other states. Depending on progress, the U.S. Department of Education grant could be renewed annually for up to four years.

Services will focus on increasing and enhancing the professional skills of those who work in vocational and community rehabilitation programs, client assistance projects and independent living centers throughout the state and in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“Our job is to help them effectively assist people with disabilities in obtaining, maintaining and retaining employment,” said David M. Adams, director of the Region V Technical Assistance and Ongoing Education program.

Adams and his staff (two trainers, three graduate students and “a large number of consultants,” Adams said with a smile) are working with Region V agencies to develop plans identifying needs. He will next meet with the other nine regional directors to prioritize the most pressing needs, then collaborate with those having similar needs on ways to address them.

Based on experience with earlier versions of this grant-based program, technical assistance and training will take place both electronically and in programs and conferences.

“Over a 24-year period of successful collaboration with these state agencies in Region V, we have developed a blend of face-to-face and online training,” Adams said.

“We have an online program in case management that is already in use by 14 other states, and we plan to expand it. We also have a blended program on ethics, partially online and partially conference calls.”

Adams estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 professionals went through training programs each year under the old program. He thinks that number could rise to 4,500 under the new one.

“If you figure an average caseload is 100 -- and that’s probably a little low -- think of all the people this program will affect,” Adams said.