Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE): Arkansas PROMISE Process Analysis Report
Social Security Administration
- The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) contracted with the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions (UA) to coordinate and implement Arkansas PROMISE. As the de facto lead agency, UA provided oversight and coordination of the recruitment of youth and families, service delivery, and partner involvement. Key services that the program offered included (1) case management and monthly trainings on transition and employment issues provided by case managers (called “connectors”), (2) vocational evaluations and career readiness training provided by transition specialists, (3) two paid summer work experiences (including job coaching) of up to 200 hours each, (4) a summer camp to promote academic readiness and social skills, and (5) benefits counseling and financial education.
- Three years into program operations, 92 percent of treatment group youth had participated to some extent in Arkansas PROMISE. All but two percent of them had a PROMISE plan, which identified career and education goals as well as the steps needed to achieve them. On average, participating youth attended 22 percent of the monthly trainings available to them. Slightly more than half of participating youth had attended at least one monthly training involving benefits counseling, and almost half had attended at least one monthly training involving financial planning. More than two-thirds of youth participating in the program had a work experience in at least one summer between 2015 and 2017; almost one-quarter had work experiences in two or more summers.
- Working relationships among Arkansas PROMISE partners at the administrative level increased during early program implementation, but those increases were not sustained as the program matured. Collaboration by Arkansas PROMISE frontline staff with their counterparts in the other partner organizations generally increased as the program matured.
- The process analysis suggests that conditions were favorable for finding positive impacts of Arkansas PROMISE on youth and families. A large share of treatment group youth and families participated in the program and received key services, control group youth had only limited access to services similar to those Arkansas PROMISE provided, and there was virtually no risk that control group youth and families received services from the program.
PROMISE—Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (SSI)—was a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the Social Security Administration (SSA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Labor to fund and evaluate programs to promote positive changes in the lives of youth who were receiving SSI and their families. Under cooperative agreements with ED, six entities across 11 states enrolled SSI youth ages 14 through 16 and implemented demonstration programs intended to (1) provide educational, vocational, and other services to youth and their families and (2) make better use of existing resources by improving service coordination among state and local agencies. Under contract to SSA, Mathematica Policy Research is evaluating how the programs were implemented and operated, their impacts on SSI payments and education and employment outcomes for youth and their families (using an experimental design under which we randomly assigned youth to treatment or control groups), and their cost-effectiveness. In this report, we present findings from the process analysis of the first three years of the implementation and operation of the Arkansas PROMISE program. The findings are based on data collected through September 2017 via site visits to Arkansas PROMISE, telephone interviews with and social network surveys of program administrators and staff, and the management information system that the program’s staff used to record their efforts. The report describes how Arkansas PROMISE engaged with youth, the services the program provided to them and their families, and the collaborations the program fostered to support its efforts. It also highlights information about the experiences of control group youth that could have implications for the evaluation’s impact analysis.