Employment Outcomes - Center Studies

How Do VR Agency-Level Factors and Individual Consumer Characteristics Influence Youth Outcomes?

This study aims to provide a better understanding of the long-term employment outcomes of youth with disabilities after they exit vocational rehabilitation (VR) services. The study will assess how State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency-level characteristics (ex: type and amount of services provided, wait time for services, cost of services, etc.) interact with individual-level characteristics (ex: age, gender, race, type of disability, etc.). Information on long-term employment outcomes for youth who received VR services is currently limited, as is our understanding of how agency-level factors can influence those outcomes. This project will fill those gaps, so that interventions can be identified, implemented, and tested to improve youth transitions.

Additionally, the results of this study may help identify potential policy changes that could improve employment-related outcomes for this population, therefore, it is of potential interest to policymakers and future researchers.

Effective VR Policies and Practices for Transition Youth: Lessons Learned from the Maryland Seamless Transition Collaborative

In 2007, the Maryland Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) was awarded a federal grant to design and implement a state-wide comprehensive transition intervention to improve employment outcomes for transitioning youth. The project, the Maryland Seamless Transition Collaborative (MSTC), was rolled out in 11 Maryland counties over a five-year period. This study will examine the employment impacts and implementation issues of MSTC in order to provide new knowledge to the field regarding transition practices and policies that are most effective in achieving employment outcomes for transitioning youth.

Currently, SVRAs lack evidence regarding the impacts, costs, and usefulness of transition programs and practices which they need to make evidence-based decisions regarding implementation, resource allocation, and staffing. The expected results of study will offer evidence that state agency directors and federal policymakers can use as they implement new programs and policies for youth in transition mandated in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. Moreover, VR counselors, practitioners, and youth and their families can use this study’s findings in identifying and advocating for transition services and supports needed to improve the post school outcomes of youth with disabilities.

Proposing Design Options for a Rigorous Impact Evaluation of Project SEARCH

In this study we present several design options for a rigorous impact evaluation of Project SEARCH. Project SEARCH is a high school to work transition program that integrates employers and businesses with other educational and community rehabilitation service providers to engage youth with disabilities in paid work experiences. Recent monitoring and evaluation efforts suggest promising employment outcomes for Project SEARCH participants, but there has not yet been a rigorous impact evaluation with a large sample to demonstrate that these outcomes are substantially better than they would be in the absence of Project SEARCH.

Relying on information we gathered from document reviews and from site visits conducted for this evaluability assessment, we propose two leading evaluation designs. First, under the existing setting scenario, where we take Project SEARCH sites, students, and other partners as given, we propose a matched comparison group design; and second, under a demonstration scenario, where we allow for the evaluation to play a role in determining the setting within which these players interact, we propose a randomized experimental evaluation. We also discuss a few other alternative design options, but they are less appealing than those recommended.