Department celebrates 20 years of serving Alabamians with disabilities

ADRS staff gather at the Alabama State Capitol to celebrate the first day of operation as a department on Jan. 3, 1995.

Then-Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. and ADRS staff gather at the Alabama State Capitol on Jan. 3, 1995, to celebrate the department’s first day of operation.

Twenty years ago, the Alabama Legislature and Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. established the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services to provide a service-delivery system specifically designed for people with disabilities and their families.

With this legislation, Alabama’s rehabilitation, education, and employment services for infants, children, teenagers, and adults with disabilities were consolidated into a single agency of government to better meet the needs of this unique and underserved population.

The department’s unique “one-stop” approach – our Continuum of Services – simplifies access to services by providing a single point of entry at the community level. This integrated approach allows a seamless transition for persons who need individualized services across a multitude of programs – for as long as those persons require those services.

In addition to creating the continuum of services for thousands of Alabamians with disabilities, the department consolidation:

  • provided greater access to services for individuals and families
  • improved and expanded services through community partnerships
  • increased accountability and efficiency through outcome-based budgeting
  • reduced layers of bureaucracy by minimizing middle management

Just as importantly, the consolidation gave our consumers a real voice in the affairs of our department. From serving in positions of leadership on the statewide Board of Rehabilitation Services, to participating in parent and consumer advisory groups at the state and community levels, the individuals and families who receive services play a vital role in guiding the delivery of ADRS programs and services.

After two decades years as an independent agency with a singular focus, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services has exceeded expectations in every area. By seamlessly integrating services, linking services to communities through collaboration at every level, and promoting true accountability through measurable outcomes, our department has become nationally known as a model program for disability services, emulated and replicated by other states.

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