The Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation and Psychometric Services at Jackson State University has been awarded a nearly $1 million grant over a five-year period to assist in educating students to serve Mississippi’s special-needs population.
A study by Cornell University shows that Mississippi consistently ranks in the Top 5 in the U.S. with the number of people with disabilities.
Dr. Daniel Watkins, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, credits department chair Dr. Dion F. Porter and project director Dr. Frank L. Giles for their efforts to expand the long-term training project. “We are excited for the work that they have done because it will benefit many students. Rehabilitation counseling is a critical area to Jackson State University.”
Giles, a professor and director of the rehabilitation development program, said the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration provided the award.
“It’s anticipated that the project will be five years,” said Giles. In increments of about $200,000 annually, the goal of the project is to train master’s level rehabilitation counselors.
By comparison, Alabama has five master’s-level programs, and that state has a similar disability demographic as Mississippi, which has only two master’s-level programs. “So, there is a great need for the services here,” Giles said.
“The long-term training project involves working with people with various disabilities, including spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and chronic health concerns,” said Giles. “One of our partners is the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, which provides a training site for our students. It also provides employment opportunities for students once they complete their degree.”
The grant covers student tuition, stipends for books and other needs.
Porter said, “We are so elated to receive this grant, which has been with our department for many years. And we hope it will continue for many years. It will benefit not only Jackson State University but also citizens with disabilities. We are proving that we are striving to provide the utmost service for the special-needs population.”
Dr. Loretta Moore, JSU’s vice president of Research and Federal Relations, said, “Jackson State University continues to impact the lives of one of our most vulnerable populations. As an urban institution, it’s incumbent on our part to make sure we prepare students for critical roles in working with special-needs individuals. We must make sure they can function independently and contribute to the world without being excluded from mainstream society, particularly since one in five people in America suffer some type of disability – whether it’s physical or mental. This grant will allow us to continue making a difference.”