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BHDDH Awards Contract for Establishment of the Employment First Center for Excellence and Advocacy

Grand Opening Set for February 28, 2014.

The Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) awarded a contract to establish a Center for Excellence and Advocacy (CEA) to Fedcap. The New York-based non-profit develops innovative and sustainable solutions that help people overcome barriers and work toward economic independence. Services include evaluation, educational training and job placement.

An important part of BHDDH's Employment First initiative, the CEA will focus on training, job development, employer recruitment, advocacy, education, outreach to individuals and their families, data collection and outcome measures.

Employment First is an employment model based on a system that supports family and self-advocacy, informed choice, community integration and integrated, customized employment for individuals with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges. The Department has contracted with Fedcap to provide State agencies, community service providers and other community organizations with a variety of services including training and technical assistance and to help them build capacity for supported employment and integrated day services. Goals are to enhance the quality of service delivery across the State and assist in the transition of individuals, programs, staff and resources to integrated employment in the community and integrated community-based day services.

"The establishment of the CEA acknowledges that we cannot do this alone," said Craig Stenning, Director of BHDDH. "Employment First involves a large group of stakeholders who bring a variety of expertise to this initiative, and the Center will provide a forum to share these ideas as we move this initiative forward. The CEA will grow and adapt to the changing environment in Rhode Island and will be responsive to the changing needs of the stakeholders."

Lori Norris, who most recently served as a project manager for School and Main Institute in Boston, MA, has been named Director of the Center for Excellence and Advocacy. Previously an Administrator at the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training and CEO at Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island, Ms. Norris has significant experience creating programs, services, policies and training to facilitate the successful employment and education of individuals with developmental disabilities. She has an extensive history of working with individuals with a wide spectrum of disabilities including cognitive, mental health, physical, emotional and behavioral. An experienced trainer, she has provided a wide array of trainings on disability, awareness, employability, transition services, mentoring, leadership, mentoring and many other topics.

The Center will also act as a clearinghouse for the collection, maintenance and distribution of information for the Department and other stakeholders in the community, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

A grand opening, which includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony, is Friday, February 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at 662 Hartford Avenue in Providence. For more information about the CEA and Employment First visit www.cea.fedcap.org and www.riemploymentfirst.ri.gov.

About the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals BHDDH is committed to assuring access to quality services and supports for Rhode Islanders with developmental disabilities, mental health and substance abuse issues and chronic, long-term medical and psychiatric conditions. In addition to planning for the development of new services and prevention activities, the department's mission includes addressing the stigma attached to these disabilities.

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Related links

Department or agency: RI BHDDH - Employment First

Online: http://www.riemploymentfirst.ri.gov/

Release date: 03-26-2014

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