Program and Activity Recommendations for CILs Working with Youth with Disabilities from Minority Backgrounds: Focus Group Findings
- Design targeted programs based on participants’ independent living interests and goals, such as financial management, exploring careers, completing household tasks, and assistance with housing issues.
- Create opportunities to learn new skills or hobbies and have fun, according to participants’ interests.
- Establish social support groups for youth from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds with disabilities to discuss struggles related to their identities and disabilities, where every participant has a chance to share their experience and strategies to cope and build confidence.
- Develop mentorship programs for participants to receive individualized support.
We conducted three virtual focus groups with out-of-school youth (OSY) with disabilities who come from minority backgrounds to learn about how Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can improve their outreach and programs for this population. Conducted over Zoom in June 2022, each focus group included 7 to 10 participants who lived in Illinois, New York City, or South Carolina. Participants shared that CILs can prioritize youth’s preferences when planning the structure and content of programs and activities, offering a blend of instruction, support, and fun experiences. Program staff can create opportunities to actively listen to their consumers’ preferences, design programs based on their interests, and recruit mentors who can provide specific expertise and motivate their mentees to achieve their goals.