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A qualitative study of characteristics, competencies and strategies of transition staff working with Latino/a youth with disabilities
Fabian, Ellen E.
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore characteristics, competencies, and strategies of transition program employment representatives who attain successful employment outcomes for urban Latino/a youths with disabilities. This study employed in-depth interviewing as a method of data collection. The central research question guiding the study was: What factors are characteristic of employer representatives who achieved successful transition outcomes with urban youth with disabilities who participated in a multi-site vocational intervention? In addition, the following sub-questions were investigated: (a) Which specific characteristics and perceptions of employment representatives are associated with successful job attainment for urban youths with disabilities? (b) What competencies of employment representatives are associated with successful job attainment for urban Latino/a youths with disabilities? (c) What job development strategies are associated with successful job attainment for urban youths with disabilities? Data collection involved two main sources of information: (a) secondary analyses of the national Bridges Program database, which includes information about employment representatives and the outcomes they achieved for students they served; and (b) in-depth structured individual interviews with 15 Bridges employer representatives. Participants were a diverse sample from six different sites of the Bridges School-to-Work program. The data were analyzed using the method developed by Thomas (2006) and similar to the Miles and Huberman (1994) steps of data reduction, data displays, and conclusion drawing/verification. The analysis yielded nine staff-related factors influencing successful outcomes for Latino/a youths with disabilities participating in Bridges School-to-Work program. These categories were labeled: (a) high level of commitment, (b) instilling-hope, (c) entrepreneurial skills, (d) cultural sensitivity (skills and knowledge), (e) awareness of youth needs and challenges, (f) networking and relationship building, (g) teamwork, (h) on-going support, and (i) family systems focus. This study contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the staff characteristics, competencies, and strategies associated with the successful transition outcomes for Latino/a youth with disabilities.