Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE): Youth's Pathways to Education and Employment
Social Security Administration
- The pathways (combinations of education and employment outcomes) that youth ages 14-16 with disabilities followed in the transition from adolescence to young adulthood were diverse.
- We identified three profiles of youth that represent three distinct patterns of transition experiences. Those profiles are: “high education and employment,” “low education and employment”, and “employed and not in postsecondary school.” About 44 percent of youth were part of the first profile, which comprised higher rates of employment, high school graduation, and postsecondary education enrollment five years after random assignment, on average. Another 44 percent of youth were part of the second profile; these youth were less likely to have completed high school, been enrolled in postsecondary education, or been employed five years later. Finally, the remaining 12 percent of youth had the third profile (many of these youth had completed high school and were working in the fifth year after RA but they were not enrolled in postsecondary school.
- Among the key transition services that PROMISE programs were required to provide, employment services stood out as an important mediator of the programs’ impacts on youth’s outcomes five years after random assignment. At least some of the average five-year impacts on youth’s employment, earnings, and income operated through programs increasing the share of youth who used employment services in the 18 months after random assignment. Use of financial education and benefits counseling services were also mediators of PROMISE’s effects for some five-year outcomes.
- The programs increased the share of youth who used case management services and parents who received parent training and information on their youth’s disability. However, these increases were associated with a reduction in youth earnings and increase in SSA payments five years after RA.
- There is strong evidence suggesting that the programs’ impacts on youth’s employment, earnings, and income five years after RA is explained in part by the fact that the programs increased the share of youth who had a paid work experience during the 18 months after RA.
Considerable research has examined the personal factors and practices associated with transition-age youth with disabilities achieving higher employment rates and greater self-sufficiency as adults, but there is limited evidence on the longer-term effectiveness of these practices and services. This study examines the role of youth’s use of transition services and work experiences in the pathways that youth with disabilities followed to longer-term employment and education outcomes, while drawing on data from a federal initiative known as Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE).
The PROMISE projects aimed to improve the long-term self-sufficiency of youth ages 14-16 by providing transition services to youth and their families. The national evaluation, which used a random assignment (RA) study design, found that the average impact of the programs was to increase youth’s employment five years after RA, although there was substantial variation across the six projects. This study examines the pathways that youth followed towards educational and employment outcomes during the five years following random assignment and the role that youth’s use of transition services and work experiences played in those pathways.