Easter Seals West Alabama Celebrates Grand Opening

New facility expands social service assistance for people with disabilities in West Alabama

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Easter Seals West Alabama (ESWA) and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) held a ribbon-cutting celebration for their new facility May 4 at 1 p.m.

The new building ­– located at 1400 James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway East ­– encompasses 56,000 square feet of office space and houses programs for children and adults with disabilities and other special needs in west Alabama. 

The $10.2 million building marks not only a new chapter in Easter Seals West Alabama’s (ESWA) history, but also a milestone for social services in west Alabama. 

ADRS joins ESWA at the new location, thus offering individuals with disabilities and other special needs from Bibb, Greene, Lamar, Sumter, Fayette, Hale, Pickens, and Tuscaloosa counties a variety of social, vocational and medical services under one roof.

This unique public-private partnership allows the two agencies to increase current services to individuals of all ages and disabilities, expand workforce development efforts in the west Alabama region and create new opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.

The counties served are among the poorest in the United States.

The building features a multi-use training center suitable for local, state and regional meetings of rehabilitation professionals; a computer lab where individuals can receive training in the skills necessary for today’s job market and apply for jobs online; and a state-of-the-art clinic providing services to children from birth to 21 with special health care needs.

ESWA owns and maintains the building. Amason Construction built the facility, which was designed by Ellis and Associates.

About Easter Seals West Alabama

ESWA is a private, non-profit, organization providing social, medical, and workforce development services to individuals with disabilities and other special needs in West Alabama.  ESWA has a local board of directors and develops programs and services that reflect local needs. ESWA provides exceptional services that are individualized, innovative, family-focused, and tailored to meet specific needs of the West Alabama community. ESWA has traditionally focused on children’s and family programs as well as workforce development.

ESWA’s Programs

ESWA’s Workforce Development Program provides a wide range of activities and programs designed to sustain, and retain a viable workforce that can support current and future business and industry. The Vocational Services Program matches people with disabilities who want to be productive members of the workforce with employment suited for their skills. The Supported Employment Program provides one-on-one, supervised, on-site training to individuals, teaching them the skills needed to complete their job. 

The Transportation Department provides work related transportation to income eligible individuals throughout a specified radius of Tuscaloosa County. ESWA drivers pick individuals up at their homes, transport them to their job or work related activity, and transport them home. The program serves around 125 businesses per year, making over 11,000 trips. 

The Future Promise Program provides educational and occupational services to eligible youth, ages 16-24, in Tuscaloosa County who have dropped out of school. The program seeks to help guide these at-risk youth towards a bright future at a critical crossroad in their lives. 

The Nurse-Family Partnership Program is a maternal and early childhood health program, fostering long-term success for first-time moms, their babies, and society. This program introduces vulnerable first-time parents to caring professionals, allowing nurses to deliver the support moms need to have a healthy pregnancy, become knowledgeable and responsible parents, and provide their babies with the best possible start in life. 

The Parents as Teachers Program is an additional maternal and early childhood program that provides information, support, and encouragement to parents. PAT teaches parents the skills needed for their children to develop optimally during the critical, formative years of life. The program supports a parent’s role in promoting school readiness and healthy development of children from birth to age five.

The Social Security Representative Payee Program provides assistance to those who are unable to manage their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits. ESWA representative payees receive and handle all aspects of the beneficiary’s Social Security funds and advocate on their behalf. 

ESWA’s Speech and Language Department provides speech and language therapy services to children and adults, improving their communication skills, academic achievement, self-esteem, and quality of life. The program focuses on enhancing or restoring limited or lost communicative skills or swallowing capabilities due to injury, disease, aging, or congenital abnormality.  

ADRS Programs

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) is the state agency serving children and adults with disabilities. Services are provided through 25 community-based offices, reaching residents in all 67 counties. In fiscal year 2016, the department served almost 50,000 Alabamians.

ADRS provides services across a lifetime through four major programs: Alabama’s Early Intervention System, Children’s Rehabilitation Service, Vocational Rehabilitation Service, and the State of Alabama Independent Living Service/Homebound. 

Alabama’s Early Intervention System (AEIS) coordinates services statewide for infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays from birth to age 3, preparing them and their families for the transition to the state Department of Education’s preschool program for 3- to 5-year-olds. Early Intervention also provides financial and technical support to more than 50 community programs that provide direct service to families.

Children’s Rehabilitation Service (CRS) provides individualized services to children with special health care needs from birth to age 21 and their families at home, school and in the community. In addition, Children’s Rehabilitation Service provides disability services, expertise and adaptive technology to and for local school systems, assisting teachers, school nurses and other staff in the education of children with disabilities. The CRS Hemophilia Program serves Alabama’s children and adults with this life-threatening blood disorder.

Vocational Rehabilitation Service (VRS) provides rehabilitation, education and employment-related services to teens and adults with disabilities. To assure consumers achieve in the classroom, VRS collaborates with high schools, vocational schools, junior colleges and universities statewide to assist students with disabilities in receiving appropriate educational opportunities. Every year, the Vocational Rehabilitation Service Business Relations Program provides disability management and employee placement services to Alabama businesses.

The State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL) Service/Homebound provides specialized in-home education and counseling, attendant care, training and medical services to Alabamians with the most-significant disabilities. SAIL staff also provide education and support services to families with children and adults with the most-significant disabilities to make them more independent at home, at school, in the community or in the workplace.

History of Easter Seals

Nationally, Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for nearly 100 years. From child development centers, to physical rehabilitation and job training for people with disabilities, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life's challenges and achieve personal goals. Easter Seals West Alabama is an affiliate of Easter Seals Alabama and Easters Seals International, where services and support are provided through a network of more than 550 sites in the U.S. and through Ability First Australia. Each facility is independent, has a local board of directors and the freedom to develop programs and services that reflect local needs. Each facility provides exceptional services that are individualized, innovative, family-focused and tailored to meet specific needs of the particular community served.