NOTE: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
By Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD)
Throughout its 100-year existence, the nation’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) program has continually adapted and evolved to meet changing public needs. This spirit is certainly evident today, as state VR agencies respond to the rapidly shifting employment landscape triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Dillon Maestrejuan is a prolific storyteller, and he is turning a passion for photography into a promising career path with assistance from Nevada Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).
“It isn’t too scary,” Levi Welsch said, when asked how he felt about the possibility of his vision loss deteriorating in the future. “I am learning skills,” he said, “and I know that Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) has my back.”
Diana Capobianco is a private practice pediatric dentist, Executive Board Maryland Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and Liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Maryland Chapter of AAP. Her career as a pediatric dentist includes working with infants, children, teens and individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. Diana holds several positions in local county offices of the Maryland Department of Health and serves on the AAP Dentistry national education committee.
ED: How did you begin your work in early childhood?
My desire to work with kids goes way back to my own youth. I always enjoyed being around kids, baby-sitting and tutoring, assisting with kids at after-school play time, that sort of thing, but I also wanted to work in healthcare helping others. A career in pediatric dentistry was a natural melding of those pursuits.
Ginger Roberts-Scott, Director of the Maine Women, Infant, and Children Supplemental Nutrition program, began her career as a licensed social worker working with individuals with intellectual disability and autism. Throughout her 32 years in a public health service career, Ginger has held several positions in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services helping children, senior citizens and people with disabilities access services, education and employment to gain self-sufficiency.
ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?
My bachelor’s degree is in Human Services with a focus on intellectual disabilities and autism. I worked at the Maine State Medicaid office as the children’s and waiver services program manager and was responsible for making sure children received services to which they were entitled, especially early intervention services. Prior to that I determined eligibility for Medicaid services. In 2017, I moved to the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program after 26 years at Medicaid. Working at WIC in my current position is a continuation of advocating for children.
By Kristen Kushiyama Public Affairs Specialist, OSERS, U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education held the seventh annual ED Games Expo at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Jan. 9.
“The ED Games Expo is the department’s annual public showcase and celebration of educational learning games as well as innovative forms of learning technologies for children and students in education and special education,” according to the ED Games Expo site.
The expo had almost 150 learning and technology games that covered topics such as early learning, science, engineering, making, math, reading, social studies, English learning and social skills for all students — including students with disabilities.
Developing Executive Functioning Skills through Games
Grace is co-founder of Kiko Labs, an educational company creating learning games based on principles of neuroscience. She has been the principal investigator on two small business innovation research (SBIR) grants funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education and another grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Prior to founding Kiko Labs, Grace spent 15 years in product roles in the technology industry, including a stint at Microsoft. Grace holds an AB in Economics and MS in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford and received an MBA from Harvard Business School. Her research interests include game-based learning and assessment as well as technology-infused learning applied to all facets of school readiness.
The Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (CSAVR) National Employment Team (the NET), in partnership with CVS Health, a business at the forefront of building an inclusive workplace for individuals with disabilities, released a new video on recruiting, training and employing individuals with disabilities. OSERS highlighted one of the employees featured in the video this past October in a blog during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, “The Dual Customer: Individuals with Disabilities and Business.”
Ms. Yetta Myrick is the mother of a teenage son with special needs. She is the founder and president of DC Autism Parents (DCAP), a non-profit organization. At DCPA, Yetta has created programs for children diagnosed with autism and their families and oversees the daily operations of the organization. Yetta serves as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Act Early Ambassador to D.C. In this role, she promotes developmental monitoring and assists families in getting the help they need to access services for their children.