Predictors of Supported Employment for Transitioning Youth with Developmental Disabilities
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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 requires school systems to plan systematically for the transition from school to post-secondary education and/or employment and include measurable post-school goals in students' IEPs. Schools are required to coordinate activities, such as work experiences, to assist students in meeting their post-school goals. In addition, IDEA 2004 outlines a requirement for states to evaluate their performance on priority indicators including the percent of youth who had IEPs who are working in the community within the first year after exiting school (Indicator 14, IDEA 2004). Although youth with developmental disabilities (DD) typically stay in school longer than their peers and often receive costly long-term funded supports as adults, these students continue to transition to sheltered post-school employment rather than supported employment (paid work in the community). Studies examining the employment outcomes for youth with disabilities and predictors for favorable post-school outcomes proliferate in the field yet little is known about the types of employment outcomes for transitioning youth with developmental disabilities who receive long-term funded supports from community rehabilitation provider agencies (CRPs) or the variables that best predict supported employment outcomes.
In this study, CRP staff members were asked to complete a survey on 560 individuals who received state DD funded supports from one of 81 CRPs across one Mid-Atlantic state. The final sample included 338 subjects (60.4% response rate) from 57 CRPs. Only 14.2% of the transitioning youth with DD were in individual supported employment positions in the community. Over one-third of the sample (36.9%) was in other supported work (e.g. enclaves, mobile crews) through a CRP and 57.1% were engaged in unpaid/sheltered or non-work activities at the CRP. Using multinomial logistic regression, five variables were identified as salient predictors of supported employment: Family expressed preference for supported employment, paid work experience during secondary school years, self-management skills, community mobility skills, and race/ethnicity. The findings are particularly meaningful because this is the first study to examine predictor variables that are relevant for transitioning youth with DD, such as typical secondary school experiences (e.g. post-secondary program participation, unpaid work experience) and the outcome variable reflects the spectrum of employment outcomes for individuals receiving funded supports from CRPs.