The state's commissioner of mental health and developmentally disabled programs said Lawrence businesses should be commended for hiring Bert Nash and Cottonwood Inc. clients.
The state's mental health commissioner says the Lawrence business community's commitment to hiring people with mental and developmental disabilities is noble.
``It's very impressive in this community. The employment community and the commitment they have to serving both mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals is a very positive aspect of Lawrence,'' Connie Hubbell, commissioner of mental health and developmental disabilities, said Wednesday afternoon.
There are about 50 businesses that employ more than 80 Lawrence residents with developmental disabilities, plus more who work through Cottonwood Inc. programs.
Hubbell was in Lawrence as part of a statewide tour of programs for people with developmental disabilities.
Her day began with a breakfast meeting attended by officials from Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, Cottonwood, Lawrence public schools, law enforcement, representatives from the court system and area legislators.
Hubbell visited a junior high therapeutic classroom and a high school mental health program sponsored by Bert Nash and the school district. She also visited Hy-Vee and Allen Press, which hire people with mental and developmentally disabilities.
Hubbell has visited 23 of the 58 mental health and developmentally disabled programs throughout Kansas, but hopes to visit them all by next year.
``The purpose of this is to meet the consumers, the family members, the professionals and the employers and learn from them,'' she said. ``As a policy-maker, the more I can learn from a community and identify what its needs are, the better I can set policies.
``Each community knows best how to meet the needs of their consumers,'' Hubbell said. ``We at the state level can give direction and oversight and expect accountability, but I'm very supportive of the local programs such as Cottonwood and Bert Nash to meet the community needs.''
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.