Field Agency Spotlight: Institute for Disability Studies

Agency Profile - Gold

Please briefly describe your agency’s services.
IDS at the University of Southern Mississippi was created by federal legislation in the 1960s and is Mississippi’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. IDS concentrates its work in four emphasis areas. Early Childhood Inclusion and Education, Wellness, Housing and Transition to Adulthood.

What type of clients does your agency typically serve?
Mississippians with developmental and other disabilities and their families across the life span.

What are the most important aspects of the agency’s mission?
1. Working toward increasing the independence of persons with disabilities.
2. Empowering persons with disabilities to have a good quality of life.
3. Increasing the productivity and integration into communities of persons with disabilities.

What are the biggest challenges the agency faces?
Since all of our programs are grant-funded, the biggest challenge is the possibility of funding cuts and/or contracts not being renewed. When contracts are not renewed, then services are discontinued, which sometimes causes hardships for consumers.

What are some accomplishments the agency is proudest of?
Providing pathways to a better informed, more productive community-based life for people with varying disabilities and of all ages. IDS staff have impacted families across the entire state of Mississippi for more than 40 years.

What is the role of social workers in the agency?
To complete assignments/tasks provided by their field instructors and task managers. To be a professional while doing field placement and assist in serving agency clientele while respecting the client’s privacy.

What type of work do social work interns typically do at the agency?
Client intakes for services, home visits, research of community services and collection of data for database entry.

How valuable is the internship to both the agency and the student?
The student intern will be involved in the day-to-day activities of a field social worker. The encounters with clients on home visits, learning databases for entry of appropriate documentation, and networking with agencies to provide a continuum of services will give the intern good experiences in the field of social work.

The case managers at the agency will have the additional assistance to help provide the needed services to potential clients.

Postscript
The housing focus area utilizes social work interns to assist case managers to help identify and obtain housing to eligible homeless families. Once housing is identified, then supportive services from community resources are obtained to stabilize the family in their housing.

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