The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services

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What's New at DARS Archives

Virginia Currents Interviews DARS Commissioner Jim Rothrock

Project SEARCH: Sentara Williamsburg program gives students hands-on job

Project SEARCH: Sentara Williamsburg program gives students hands-on job

Project SEARCH successes featured in The Roanoke Times

Project Search, the internship program that got Holk in the driver's seat, placed him and four other Montgomery County Public Schools students into unpaid internships at the hospital this year. It's a joint effort among Carilion, the school system, the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. Read the full article at

Governor McDonnell Announces Launch of Enhanced Business One Stop Website

Governor McDonnell Announces Launch of Enhanced Business One Stop Website

Employer Spotlight: WTVR Daylight Donuts Interview

Joanne Ellison and Lance Elwood with Career Support Systems, Inc. talk about the grand opening of their brand new, tasty business, Daylight Donuts and their supported employment partnership with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. Monday's Medical Minute: Virginia DARS's recent "Medical Minute" segment focused on the programs and services offered through the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. DARS honored local businesses and agencies at the Fifth Annual Champions of Disability Employment luncheon, and HandCraft Cleaners, a local business highlighted in this clip, was on-hand to receive much deserved recognition.

Disabled Still Get Cool Reception in U.S. Workplace

A new survey sponsored by the Kessler Foundation/National Organization on Disability 2010 Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities finds that although corporations recognize that hiring employees with disabilities is important, most are hiring very few of these job seekers and few are proactively making efforts to improve the employment environment.Read more

Chantilly Bakery Caters to Needs of Disabled

Feature article on Wildflour Catering, Deli and Bakery in Chantilly, Virginia, a nonprofit that works with the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board to hire county residents who have learning disabilities.Read more

Barriers to employing persons with disabilities: Three common misconceptions

Article addressed common misconceptions identified by industry experts that act as barriers to equal employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.Read more

Style Weekly

Jack Brandt Named one of Richmond's Top 40 under 40. Brandt is the Chairman of the Statewide Independent Living Council. He was also a former board member of Valley Associates for Independent Living (VAIL) in Harrisonburg.

Video: DARS Commissioner Rothrock interviewed on Comcast Newsmakers

DARS Commissioner Rothrock speaks about October Disability Employment Awareness Month on Comcast Newsmakers. Comcast Newsmakers is a five-minute program that features informative interviews with community, non-profit, educational, and civic leaders. The program is a public service to Comcast customers in the Richmond area. Watch the complete subtitled interview on our YouTube channel now!

Governor McDonnell’s Proclamation for Disability Employment Awareness Month

Download the Proclamation in Word and PDF formats. Proclamation (Word) | Proclamation (PDF)

20th Anniversary of American's with Disabilities Act

July 26, 2010 marks the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the landmark legislation prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. Read Governor McDonnell’s Proclamation here.

RichmondBizSense - Daylight Donuts Opens with the Specific Goal of Employing Workers with Disabilities

A new donut shop has opened near Innsbrook with the help of stimulus money from the state. Joanne Ellis and her business partner Lance Elwood opened Daylight Donuts with the specific goal of employing workers with disabilities. Ellis and Elwood applied for a grant and received $49,000 in federal stimulus dollars made available through the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. They used that money as part of a $500,000 total investment to open the first Daylight Donut shop in Virginia. Continue reading about the shop at RichmondBizSense.

Former Governor Kaine announces Virginia Recognized Among "Five Best States to Start a Business"

Virginia is recognized among the "Five Best States to Start a Business.", according to the U.S. News & World Report this week. This recognition comes on the heels of the Commonwealth's sixth number one ranking for its pro-business environment. During Former Governor Kaine's administration, Virginia has also been recognized as the most business-friendly state in America ( 2006-2008), one of the best states for business (CNBC 2007 and 2008), the top-performing state government in America (Governing Magazine 2008) and the state where "a child is most likely to have a successful life (Education Week 2007)." Read more on the Governor's website.

Former Governor Kaine Announces Latest No. 1 Pro-Business Ranking for Virginia

Former Governor Kaine announces that Virginia’s pro-business environment has garnered the Commonwealth its latest No. 1 ranking nationally. The top slot accorded to Virginia this week by Pollina Corporate Real Estate Inc., a top U.S. corporate site relocation expert, marks the third time the company has recognized the state with its highest ranking and is the sixth time overall that the Commonwealth has received national recognition as the most business-friendly state under the leadership of Former Governor Kaine. Read Governor's News Release

Virginia State Rehabilitation Council 2008 Annual Report

Spreading Awareness for Workers with Disabilities

"For more than six decades the month of October has been dedicated to recognizing disabled people in our country. All year, the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services helps disabled people maximize their employment opportunities and independence in society." Read more and watch related video on the web site.

Comcast Newsmakers Interview

Watch our Comcast Newsmakers interview featuring DARS Commissioner Jim Rothrock on CNN Headline News, which was shown during the month of October, 2008. Segments aired at 24 and 54 minutes past the hour on Comcast channel 26, in Richmond and Chesterfield.

Former Governor Tim Kaine's acceptance speech

Watch a video of Former Governor Tim Kaine accepting the award for being a "Disability Employment Champion".

Hi, I'm Tim Kaine. I regret I am unable to be with you in person, but would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services for selecting me as the first person to be honored as a "Disability Employment Champion".

Movie not playing? Download the Adobe Flash Player.

Here is the full text transcript of the speech:
Hi, I'm Tim Kaine. I regret I am unable to be with you in person, but would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services for selecting me as the first person to be honored as a "Disability Employment Champion".

As many of you know, I have long been an advocate for persons with disabilities as a lawyer and as a public servant. I firmly believe that persons with disabilities are a vital part of both the commonwealth, and our nation's workforce. That is why I wholeheartedly supported the Virginia Medicaid Buy In Program when I was chairman of the Virginia Disability Commission. I want everyone to have the freedom to work without having to worry about losing their Social Security benefits.

I would like to give a special thanks to my fellow awardees for your commitment to "championing" the employment of people with disabilities. Your partnership with the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services is vital to realizing the agency's mission to empower individuals, so that they can maximize their employment, independence and become fully included in all aspects of our commonwealth. Thanks, and again to the other award recipients: congratulations.

State Agency Honors Governor and Eight Others with New Award

Richmond - In commemoration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) and Dominion Resources, Inc. co- hosted the First Annual Disability Employment Champions Awards Breakfast on October 24, 2006 at Virginia Crossings Resort in Glen Allen, Virginia. Read the entire report in Word Format.

Virginia's AmeriCorps & DARS: A Partnership for Disability Inclusion in Volunteer Service

Persons with disabilities contribute a wide range of talents to our communities and desire opportunities to serve in significant ways. Virginia's AmeriCorps has developed a partnership with the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to expand volunteering opportunities to persons with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability (or work with persons with disabilities) interested in volunteering time to community service, please visit AmeriCorps.

New Resources Focus on Safety during Emergencies for Workers with Disabilities

Assistant Secretary Roy Grizzard has announced the issuance of Preparing the Workplace for Everyone, a comprehensive template of guidelines to help federal agencies integrate the needs of workers with disabilities into emergency preparedness plans. The template was developed by the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities' Workplace Subcommittee, which is chaired by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). ODEP has also launched a new web page on Emergency Preparedness, which includes the template of guidelines as well as additional resources.

Secretary Chao Announces 2005 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme, "Workers with Disabilities: Ready for Tomorrow's Jobs Today"

Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao this week announced the official theme for October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month. To read the News Release, please go to

On-Line Video for Employers: 10 SMALL BUSINESS MISTAKES

New thirteen-minute video identifies common mistakes that small businesses make when trying to comply with the ADA and addresses the importance and value of doing business with 50 million people with disabilities. The video features statements by store owners expressing their doubts or misunderstandings about the ADA, followed by explanations about the law in common sense terms. To view video, go to

Local Center for Independent Living Assists Community During Winter Storm

Staff at Clinch Independent Living Center Bring in Food.During the December snowstorm, which blanketed most of Virginia, the Clinch Independent Living Services (CILS) in Grundy, Virginia assisted members of their community. Staff and volunteers provided over 300 hot meals to cold and hungry Southwest Virginians. In addition, the Center provided more than 300 box lunches to their neighbors. This effort provided needed refuge for people stuck, in some way, because of the massive snow storm. The needed assistance also provided focus on the Center for Independent Living. CILS, or "Clinch" as the Center is sometimes called, was founded over 10 years ago and is located in a very rural Center for Independent Living serving a wide geographic area, Planning District 2. Last year, Clinch served over 750 consumers and provided community and individual advocacy to an area where few services are available. Thank you Clinch for providing shelter in the storm! Download the Thank You letter in Word Format to learn more.

Comprehensive Preparedness Guide for Special Needs Populations

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released a Comprehensive Emergency Management Planning Guide for Special Needs Populations. The guide is designed to aid tribal, state, territorial and local governments in planning for individuals with special needs during an emergency. Following an assessment of emergency operations plans in 2006, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concluded that "substantial improvement is necessary to integrate people with disabilities in emergency planning and readiness." The guide was developed to address this shortfall with respect to people with disabilities, the elderly, and other individuals with special needs. This is the second of a series of guides being released by DHS/FEMA to provide comprehensive guidance on developing emergency plans, and its release commemorates the Americans with Disabilities Act and promotes the inclusion of individuals with special needs in emergency management. Read more at the FEMA web site.

Virginia Easy Access: New on-line resource tool for seniors, adults with disabilities, caregivers, and providers

Virginia Easy Access is an on-line resource developed for seniors, adults with disabilities, their caregivers, and the providers that support them.  The web site. provides helpful information on a variety of topics including Community Supports, Emergency Preparedness, Financial Help, Housing, Transportation, and connects users to community resources available across the Commonwealth. The web site. also features a search-based directory called "Virginia Navigator", which includes more than 21,000 providers and services.

Go to Don’t have a computer? Simply dial 2-1-1 and speak to community resource specialist for 24 hour, 7-day-a-week assistance.

Brain Injury Report Out Day

On Friday July 24, 2009, the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), in partnership with the Virginia Brain Injury Council and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia, hosted "Brain Injury Report Out Day" at the Science Museum of Virginia, to present the Virginia Brain Injury State Action Plan 2009-2013. The event provided an opportunity for several state agencies and partners to meet and discuss the goals and accomplishments of brain injury services in Virginia. The 2009-2013 Brain Injury Action Plan was created to shape the development of a comprehensive service system for Virginians with brain injuries. It involves collaboration among persons with brain injury, family caregivers, state agencies, and community partners serving persons with brain injury throughout the Commonwealth. Read More, Download Presentation Materials and View the PhotoGallery of the Event at the Community Based Services Brain Injury Report Out Day Page.

WWRC Celebrates Grand Opening of Rothrock Hall

The Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center (WWRC) opened the doors to its new medical building, Rothrock Hall, on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 in a dedication ceremony on the WWRC Campus in Fishersville, Virginia. The medical building, which was closed almost a decade ago due to structural problems with the foundation, is a modern residential facility for clients who require nursing and attendant care, while enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation program. The building was named in honor of James A. Rothrock, Commissioner of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), in recognition for his commitment and tireless work on behalf of Virginians with disabilities.

Wounded Warrior Program reaches out to veterans who need help

Since terrorists struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, more than 230,000 troops have been deployed to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from Virginia military bases.

Now, a state program is trying to help those coming back to find help for problems they might not even want to discuss.

The Virginia Wounded Warrior Program is using a tiny budget to reach a big problem -- veterans with behavioral-health problems, ranging from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to traumatic brain injuries. The full article can be found at:

In 2008, legislation was passed by the Virginia General Assembly to create Virginia’s Wounded Warrior Program. The Department of Veterans Services, in cooperation with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, and the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services were charged with developing a program to monitor and coordinate mental health and rehabilitative services for Virginia veterans, including Virginia

Virginia State Rehabilitation Council 2008 Annual Report

Social Security Announces Nationwide Launch of Compassionate Allowances

Process Will Fast Track Applications For People with Cancers and Rare Diseases
Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced the national rollout of the agency's Compassionate Allowances initiative, a way to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security's standards.

"Getting benefits quickly to people with the most severe medical conditions is both the right and the compassionate thing to do," Commissioner Astrue said. "This initiative will allow us to make decisions on these cases in a matter of days, rather than months or years."

Social Security is launching this expedited decision process with a total of 50 conditions. Over time, more diseases and conditions will be added. A list of the first 50 impairments -- 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers -- can be found at

Before announcing this initiative, Social Security held public hearings to receive information from experts on rare diseases and cancers. The agency also enlisted the assistance of the National Institutes of Health. Read the complete article on the Social Security web site.

20,000 vets' brain injuries not listed in Pentagon tally -

At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY. Read more at the web site.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a federal income tax credit for low-income workers who are eligible for and claim the credit. The credit reduces the amount of tax an individual owes, and may be returned in the form of a refund.

At 24, UR grad seeing clearly for first time

May 18, 2009, Richmond Times-Dispatch – Michael Davis, who was born practically blind, is spreading the word about a pair of glasses that let him see almost normally. Read more about Michael’s story and how with the help of bioptic glasses and support from DBVI he was able to see clearly for the first time.

Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services Commissioner Encourages Others to Consider Their Use of the "R-Word"

National advocacy day works to eliminate derogatory use of “retarded” in casual conversation

Richmond, Virginia – March 31, 2009 marks a national day to bring an end to the use of the “R-word” in casual conversation. Led by the Special Olympics, “Spread the Word to End the Word” is meant to encourage people to stop using forms of the word “retarded” in a derogatory manner that is offensive to individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families and others.

“People often use the word ‘retarded’ or ‘retard’ in casual conversation without realizing how hurtful it can be to individuals with intellectual disabilities,” said Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services Commissioner James Reinhard, M.D. “The use of ‘retarded’ in a derogatory sense contradicts remarks of families who say their special needs family member lives a fulfilled life and is a source of joy and inspiration to others. I hope people will take this occasion to consider the prejudicial and inaccurate nature of this word.”

In the 2009 Session, the General Assembly passed legislation to change the name of the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The new name eliminates the term retardation, more broadly reflects the department’s mission, and allows flexibility to grow into other service areas, like autism. The name change will be effective on July 1, 2009.

“Although our department’s name is not intended to be disparaging, the use of the term retarded is out of date and insensitive to individuals with intellectual disabilities,” said Reinhard. “We are grateful to the General Assembly and the many advocates who supported this name change.”

Accessibility for Hunters with Disabilities

On January 4, members from the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Wheelin’ Sportsmen of Virginia (an outreach program of NWTF) provided an accessible hunting opportunity for people who might not otherwise have the chance. About 10 hunters with mobility impairments, along with 20-30 hunting assistants, joined for a 5 a.m. hunt throughout the 223 wooded acres of the WWRC campus in Fishersville, Virginia. To access the full story, download the PDF. To view the news report, visit the WWRC YouTube page.

POSTED: Notice of Contract Awards for Work Incentives Specialist Services, IFB #09-196

Why disabled techies rock

TecAccess has found a lucrative niche connecting disabled workers with hightech job opportunities. Download the PDF or visit the article on for more.

"The Money Follows the Person" (MFP) project is now underway.

Virginia launches website describing community living choice project for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Money Follows the Person LogoVirginia is one of 31 states participating in a five-year, $1.75 billion Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration project designed to create a system of long-term services and supports that assist individuals to transition from certain long-term care institutions into the community. This project supports Virginia’s Olmstead initiative and complements the efforts of the recently awarded Systems Transformation Grant that aims to improve the infrastructure for community-based long-term supports.  Virginia’s MFP project, administered by the Department of Medical Assistance Services, will make over $28 million in federal Medicaid funds available to support Virginia’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.

For more details and the most current information on the MFP project, please visit

For just a few more dollars... unlimited horizons for deserving Americans

Read article by Sallie Rhodes, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR). Here is an excerpt: The public Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program, which is authorized by Congress, assists approximately 1.5 million individuals with significant disabilities annually by providing services and supports to overcome barriers to employment. Last year, VR helped 217,800 individuals go to work, earn good wages, and pay taxes that in a very short time will far exceed the VR dollars spent on their behalf.

Longitudinal Study of the Vocational Rehabilitation Service Program

Highlights and Significance. (PowerPoint Download)