Way2Work Maryland Demonstration: Impacts 24 Months After Enrollment
- As intended, the Way2Work Maryland program succeeded in increasing vocational rehabilitation agency engagement with participants, and almost all treatment group members used agency-provided work-based learning experiences. However, almost half of control group members also used services from the agency, though they did not do so at an intensity similar to that of the treatment group. Members of the treatment and control groups reported similar rates of use for most services and satisfaction with those services. These findings suggest that (1) control group members had ready access to transition-related services and (2) though Way2Work Maryland connected youth with the vocational rehabilitation agency, its services might have been substitutes for other existing services, such as those provided by secondary and postsecondary schools.
- Way2Work Maryland did not affect postsecondary education and training outcomes, though it did result in more treatment group members than control group members completing high school within two years of program enrollment.
- Way2Work Maryland did not affect employment or expectation outcomes as of 24 months after enrollment.
- Although the vocational rehabilitation agency and the University of Maryland appear to have implemented the program well, Way2Work Maryland did not generate the intended effects. Possible reasons include the model not leading to intended outcomes, strong existing services for youth transition, low statistical power for the evaluation, delayed positive effects, and a lack of focus on the population of youth who could most benefit from the program.
The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (the state vocational rehabilitation agency) and the University of Maryland developed and implemented the Way2Work Maryland program to include three major components: early referral to the vocational rehabilitation agency, multiple work experiences, and service collaboration with integrated training and technical assistance. Between September 2017 and early January 2019, the program enrolled 401 high school students who had either an individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan and were two years from graduation. All participants attended high schools in Maryland and voluntarily enrolled in the program, with a parent or guardian providing informed consent. Way2Work Mayland provided services through high school graduation or for 16 to 24 months (depending on enrollment date). The impact evaluation relied on a randomized controlled trial design. Under this design, the program randomly offered some participants enhanced Way2Work Maryland services (the treatment group). Participants not selected for enhanced services received usual services, or the existing services available to high school students with disabilities (the control group). Data from multiple sources, including follow-up surveys with enrollees and parents conducted 24 months after enrollment, administrative data, and program enrollment data, provided insights on enrollee characteristics and outcomes.