Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Langi, F.G., Oberoi, A., Balcazar, F.E., & Awsumb, J. (2016). Vocational rehabilitation of transition-age youth with disabilities: A propensity-score matched study. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 1-9.
Title:  Vocational rehabilitation of transition-age youth with disabilities: A propensity-score matched study
Authors:  Langi, F.G., Oberoi, A., Balcazar, F.E., & Awsumb, J.
Year:  2016
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  Springer
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Database mining

Structured abstract:

Background:  Youth with disabilities face high rates of unemployment. Unemployment can lead to depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, and poor physical health. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates transition planning for students to promote moving from school to work. Vocational transition services are traditionally provided by the state federal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program. Youth with disabilities receive services based on their Individualized Plans for Employment. There is minimal research on how to deliver effective VR transition services for youth with disabilities. Research on adults may not translate completely to youth receiving VR services. More research on effective ways to transition youth with disabilities to employment are needed.
Purpose:  The purpose of the study was to answer the following two questions. How effective are VR services in a targeted, enhanced, and contract-based secondary transition program as compared to conventional VR transition services for promoting youth with disabilities to employment? Does the effect of VR secondary transition services at the subgroup level conform to that of all youth with disabilities?
Setting:  The study data came from a VR agency located in a Midwestern state.
Study sample:  Before matching, the study sample included 14,162 youth with disabilities. After matching, the study sample was reduced to total of 4,422 youth with disabilities aged 14 to 21 who were accepted for transition services and whose case had been closed after receiving VR services. One group (n=2,211) received enhanced transition services in integrated school, and community based training during and after high school. This included: classroom instruction geared towards facilitating career exploration and developing job readiness skills, job shadowing, independent living skills training, on the job training, paid work experiences and job coaching. The services were provided by school personnel on a contractual basis with the state VR agency. The other group (non-START) youth (n= 2,211) received transition services through the regular curriculum or series of training and educational programs provided or coordinated by VR. Services were provided by a partnership with local educational agencies, residential schools or by collaboration with families and caregivers.
Control or comparison condition:  The youth were divided into two treatment groups based on the services they had received. One was the the targeted secondary transition program or START youth, the other was the non START youth.
Data collection and analysis:  After matching the study sample included a total of 4,422 youth with disabilities. This included a total of 2,211 youth with disabilities in two groups (START and non-START). These youth were matched based on a number of factors including demographics, disability, functional limitations, and year of referral. The employment outcomes of of the two groups (START and non START youth) were compared using propensity-score matching procedures. Data was pulled from information collected by the VR agency that was stored in an integrated database by a state-level data management office. Algorithms for data extraction and communication with personnel at the data management office and the VR agency were used to ensure the accuracy of each variable. Baseline characteristics that served as matching factors for START and nonSTART groups were compared using Chi-squared tests for categorical variables and t tests for numerical variables. Separate propensity-score model, matching, balance confirmation, and outcome regression were also conducted for the majority of subgroup analysis. Data management and statistical analysis were performed using R statistical software version 3.2.0.
Findings:  The overall rehabilitation rate of all matched individuals (n=4,422) was 57%. Within the two transition groups the START group rate was 61% and the non-START group was 53%. Subgroup analysis found that students in the Start group had better odds of rehabilitation than youth in the non-START group.
Conclusions:  Vocational Rehabilitation services in a targeted, enhanced, and contract based secondary transition program are more effective in transitioning youth to work than regular VR transition services.

Disabilities served:  Cerebral palsy
Chronic mental illness
Cognitive / intellectual impairment
Learning disabilities
Orthopedic impairments
Spinal cord injury (SCI)
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Race: Black / African American
Race: White / Caucasian
Ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino
Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
Outcomes:  Other