With the recent enactment of the Workforce Innovation Opportunities Act (WIOA), the role of the federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) system in helping youth with disabilities transition to employment is receiving heightened attention. New ways of dedicating resources to transitioning youth will be mandated by WIOA. How can the VR system most effectively meet the needs of youth with disabilities who are preparing for transition to employment? What can VR counselors do to make the most effective use of VR resources in this endeavor? The RRTC for VR Practices for Youth is conducting a series of studies to examine these questions. In this issue of the RRTC newsletter we introduce one of these studies.
Featured Study: 
 
What Works in Youth Transition: Evaluating the Impacts of a Comprehensive Transition Intervention in Vocational Rehabilitation


Researchers: 

Ellen Fabian, Debra Neubert - University of Maryland
Richard Luecking - TransCen, Inc.,
Todd Honeycutt - Mathematica Policy and Research (MPR)

Study Purpose: 

In 2007, the Maryland State Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) was awarded a federal grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration 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.
 

Study Overview: 

This mixed-methods study will evaluate the impacts of MSTC, a standardized multisite, multiyear model transition intervention designed and implemented to reflect the Guideposts of Success articulated in the National Collaborative on Workforce/Disability for youth. Although we are interested in learning more about the direct benefits of the MSTC model through a rigorous evaluation methodology, the study is also designed to identify the specific program elements - such as community-level collaboration teams, early referral to VR, and paid work experiences - that were most beneficial to achieving employment success for participating youth. As a result, the study uses both a quantitative and qualitative research approach to identify and validate these practices. The quantitative aspect of the study will address the overall impacts of the model on youth employment outcomes by comparing VR case closures, VR service costs, and wages for youth receiving MSTC services to non-MSTC youth in a longitudinal state-wide design. The qualitative aspect of the study is designed to identify which MSTC program elements participating staff (VR, transition, adult service provider) characterize as the most effective and enduring in improving their practices and outcomes for transitioning youth. This will be accomplished through surveys and interviews with key personnel across all of the 11 sites in order to solicit their perceptions of implementation strategies, barriers, and best practices developed during their involvement in MSTC, and subsequently sustained after model funding ended.
 

Study Research Questions: 

RQ1. What are the overall impacts of the transition intervention on youth employment outcomes in vocational rehabilitation (VR)?
 
RQ2. What policies, procedures or practices implemented by stakeholders involved in the MSTC model are perceived as the most feasible, effective and replicable?

Study Impact: 

This study leverages federal funds that supported the design and implementation of MSTC and expands its benefits to broader stakeholders.  Information gained from this study can be used to help inform stakeholders of which practices and processes derived from the best practice resources in transition have the strongest impact on positive employment outcomes for youth with disabilities.

Upcoming Issue: 

Study highlight: The missing link: Exploring the transition practices of highly effective Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors.


Funded by Department of Education - PR/Award #H133A100007 CFDA #84-133B

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