Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Henry, A.D., Laszlo, A., & Nicholson, J. (2015). What does it take to build an employment collaborative for people with disabilities?. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 43 1-15.
Title:  What does it take to build an employment collaborative for people with disabilities?
Authors:  Henry, A.D., Laszlo, A., & Nicholson, J.
Year:  2015
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Mixed methods

Structured abstract:

Background:  Individuals with disabilities experience low rates of employment. In order to obtain employment they may receive services from a variety of agencies and organizations like state vocational rehabilitation, one stop career centers or community employment service providers. Over the years there has been a reduction in funding for employment services and providers must do more with less money. Regional employment collaboratives (i.e. strategic partnerships, joint efforts) bring together disability employment service providers, employers and people with disabilities to identify and develop innovative approaches to working together.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to identify the critical elements needed to create and sustain active collaborations among disability employment service providers, who had not previously coordinated or aligned their employer outreach or job development efforts.
Setting:  The setting for the study was Massachusetts.
Study sample:  There were five regional employment collabratives (RECs). The number of active partners ranged from 22 to 49. A total of 35 participated in the focus groups, and 70 in the sorting/rating sessions. The majority of focus group members were aged 40 or older, and there were slightly more women than men. Among the sorting/rating group, the majority were also aged 40 or more and there were slightly more men than women. The majority or about two thirds of the participants for both groups were from community rehabilitation provider organizations; the remainder were professionals from state disability agencies, employers, and individuals with disabilities.
Intervention:  There was no intervention.
Control or comparison condition:  There was no control or comparison condition.
Data collection and analysis:  Data was collected in three phases. Phase one brought together focus groups to brainstorm statements in response to the research question: What does it take to build and sustain an employment collaborative for individuals with disabilities? A total of 35 REC partners participated in the focus groups with 5 to 10 per group. Two members of the research team facilitated the group discussions. At the conclusion the statements were summarized and group consensus was obtained. Each focus group lasted about two hours. After the focus group the researchers met and statements that were valid representations of the group discussions were generated. A total of 386 statements were generated from the five focus groups. Later the research team and advisory group combined similar statements, eliminate duplicates and reduced the number to 86 statements. The second phase of the study was sorting and rating the statements. The 89 statements were transcribed onto a form accompanied by a five point rating scale related to importance and the level of challenge in relation to building and sustaining an employment collaborative. A total of 70 REC partners completed the sorting and rating activity. The final phase was expert panel review of the findings. After completing data analysis project directors from the five RECs met with the researchers to review the initial findings and interpret the data. Data from sorting and rating were entered into concept mapping software Concept Systems version 4.0.175. Based on the point map the researchers generated a concept map displaying the arrangement of statements into six clusters. Bridging values were also generated by the software. The researches generated mean importance and challenge scores for the 89 questions for each of six clusters.
Findings:  A six cluster solution concept map revealed the following areas listed by mean importance scores: address employer needs,engage job developers, innovate strategically, do business differently, have effective structures and processes and build trust and respect. The three clusters with the higher importance and challenge scores that related to building a collaborative were address employer needs, engage job developers and innovate strategically. The mean importance and challenge scores for all statements were 4.21 and 2.94 respectively. Notably, 76% of the high importance statements in the three employment specific clusters were rated above the mean in challenge. Only 45% of the statements in the three general clusters were rated high on challenge.
Conclusions:  Collaborations can help diminish barriers to achieving a common goal of enhancing employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Early stages of building a collaborative may be complex, but the can be positive.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Cerebral palsy
Chronic mental illness
Developmental disabilities
Down syndrome
Dual sensory impairment
Multiple sclerosis
Spinal cord injury (SCI)
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Severe physical disability