In the early 1980s, parents of adult survivors of acquired brain injury in Fairfax County, Virginia searched for local independent housing. With housing unavailable, the parents began raising money to provide housing and other services.
Years of grassroots fundraising and awareness work produced $18,000; a sizable amount of money but a drop in the bucket compared to what would be needed by a group of individuals with multiple disabilities. Their children also needed to benefit from a multitude of basic social services. The parents found that survivors of acquired brain injury were often referred for services to the mental health field.
In 1988, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors commissioned a study to determine what services were being delivered to residents whose disabilities directly resulted from an acquired brain injury. The study demonstrated that little to nothing was available specifically for the citizens of Fairfax County within that realm.
Brain Injury Services, then Head Injury Services Partnership, was founded in 1989 as a pilot program in Fairfax County by its Board of Supervisors to meet this need and became the first community-based agency in Virginia to specialize in serving individuals with an Acquired Brain Injury.
With the support of the Virginia General Assembly, through the passage of state budget amendments, BIS has been able to increase the scope and extent of our services to cover Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg.
In 1990, the Final Report of the Commission on the Coordination of the Delivery of Services to Facilitate the Self-Sufficiency and Support of Persons with Physical and Sensory Disabilities in the Commonwealth was issued. It is better known as the Beyer Commission Report, since the Commission was headed up by Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Beyer, Jr. The recommendations of the Commission were focused on creating a coordinated service delivery system which features consumer choice, state investment, and local involvement. A major outcome of this report was the development of a legislative Commission to address these issues and brain injury issues were a primary focus. Past Board Member and Delegate Alan Mayer played a significant role in all of this.
Since 1990, the unmet service needs of individuals with physical and sensory disabilities have been addressed by the Disability Commission, a legislative commission chaired by the Lieutenant Governor and staffed by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. The Commission provides a vehicle for advancing budget proposals and addressing policy issues within a vision for a service system that is coordinated, community-based and consumer-driven. It has been through the members of the Disability Commission’s support and many Virginia Legislators that BIS has been able to increase our funding for innovative services for persons with brain injuries through budget amendments. This Commission has also supported other legislation that has positively impacted on the lives of persons with brain injuries.
In January 2001, BIS received accreditation by CARF, The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission, for its Medical Rehabilitation Case Management Programs. At that time, BIS was one of only three community-based brain injury programs in the nation to be certified in Medical Rehabilitation Case Management. The accreditation was renewed in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 and 2019. The accreditation in 2010 includes both clubhouse programs. CARF certification is an objective measure of a variety of fundamental assets organizations like ours should have-including such basics as having effective leadership, employee safety programs, and many other critical processes and resources. Our certification helps solidify our reputation as an accountable community resource.