Bridging the Gap: A Comparative Assessment of Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Practices with Transition-Age Youth (Journal Article)
Background. State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies are uniquely positioned to help youth with disabilities bridge the gaps in their transition to adulthood.
Objective. This study explores the variation in VR agency practices with youth with disabilities using a case study approach for a select group of eight agencies – five of which had statistics for their youth applicants that indicated relatively higher transition outcomes compared to all agencies and three of which that did not.
Methods. We conducted an in-depth examination of five areas of VR agency practices: organization and collaboration strategies; outreach, application, and eligibility; service delivery; employment; and monitoring and evaluation.
Results. The eight agencies had many similarities in how they identified youth with disabilities and provided services to them, such as having staff dedicated to serving youth and having programs targeting youth, often in conjunction with one or more community partners. We also observed many differentiating features among agencies with high or low transition outcomes, some aspects less under an agency’s control (such as being involved in local or statewide stakeholder collaborations) and other aspects within an agency’s control (such as having state leadership with exclusive transition responsibilities and developing outreach to parents). Additional features, although within an agency’s control, represent a greater resource cost; these include developing intensive school-based programs, enrolling more youth at earlier ages, and implementing programs to connect youth to postsecondary schools.
Conclusions. Information on varying characteristics among VR agencies could help Rehabilitation Services Administration and VR agency administrators identify promising practices in serving transition-age youth with disabilities.