Section VII of this CSNA focuses on services to students with disabilities. Changes in VR program requirements put forth by WIOA emphasized the need to engage youth and students with disabilities in VR services to better prepare them for employment and independence in adulthood. OOD has significantly increased engagement with this population through the establishment of the Ohio Transition Support Partnership (OTSP) with the Ohio Department of Education. This interagency agreement launched in 2015 to expand services to students with disabilities ages 14 to not yet 22 who are receiving services under an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and meet OOD eligibility criteria. In addition, OOD provides services to students with disabilities on general caseloads not affiliated with the OTSP.
Summer Youth Work Experience. A primary service provided to students with disabilities is Summer Youth Work Experience (SYWEs). This service is typically group-based, and is intended to teach students with disabilities vocational skills and appropriate work behaviors. Though SYWE services are not intended to prepare participants for work in any specific occupation, there appears to be some alignment between participants’ job goals and the types of work experiences provided in 2018. For example, the top work experience offered (by count of openings) involves sorting and stocking duties. This is closely aligned with the second and third most frequent job goals of SYWE participants. There is also alignment in the areas of food preparation, customer service, and janitorial/custodial work. Data also indicate that the geographic distribution of SYWE opportunities closely matches the distribution of youth and students throughout the state. (OOD – AWARE)
Services to Students and Employment Outcomes. In 2014, OOD implemented Progressive Career Development as a service delivery model for students with disabilities. This includes a series of transition-specific services designed to help students move from basic developmental activities to those requiring more skills and increased independence. Although it is too early to determine if this model results in a greater likelihood of the student achieving a successful employment outcome, there are early indications that receipt of at least one of these transition-specific services is positively correlated with continuation of VR services, especially with more recent applicants.
Two services, School-based Job Readiness Training and Non-permanent Job Development, do appear to have a substantial correlation to achieving an employment outcome, with 100 percent and 98 percent probability, respectively.
School-based Job Readiness Training is a series of several short-term rotations or internships that take place at a host business and are intended to prepare participants to be job ready and to secure permanent employment. Non-permanent Job Development is a service to help a student with a disability obtain summer or after-school employment, typical of jobs that students without disabilities may experience. One explanation for this result could be that these services more closely resemble the typical workplace, directly involve an employer and allow for more independent completion of work activities.
Balance Ratio of OOD Services to Ohio Students with Disabilities. To measure the effectiveness of OOD’s allocation of resources in services to students with disabilities, OOD obtained data from ODE regarding the number of students with disabilities receiving services through IEPs that reside in each Ohio county. Data collected at the end of the 2015 – 2016 school year indicated that there were approximately 52,695 students with disabilities in Ohio who were receiving special education services through an IEP and could potentially benefit from VR services. At that time, OOD was delivering services to 7,609 students with IEPs statewide.
Balance ratios were calculated by comparing the percentage of total students residing in each county to the percentage of total students being served in each county. This analysis revealed that OOD services are well balanced to the distribution of students with disabilities across Ohio. In fact, 13 Ohio counties were found to have achieved a balance ratio of 0.0, indicating that the distribution of resources in services to students with disabilities has been aligned well with the distribution of the student population.
Looking strictly at the volume of students served, OOD was able to serve approximately 14.4 percent of the population of students with disabilities in Ohio, suggesting a need to continue expanding services to these individuals.
Youth with Disabilities and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Reliance on SSI is thought to create a significant barrier to achieving an outcome that maximizes the income generated through employment because individuals are reluctant to engage in activity that may result in the reduction or elimination of SSI. However, reliance on SSI may not be a guaranteed strategy for long-term financial support. When a child SSI recipient reaches age 18, SSA requires that their claim be re-determined under adult disability determination rules. These rules can differ significantly from those that apply to child claims, potentially disqualifying the individual from receiving continued SSI payments. According to SSA, between 1998 and 2008, 47.8% of child recipients of SSI experienced a cessation of benefits upon redetermination at age 18. (Hemmeter & Stegman Bailey, 2015) Because they may not be prepared for employment when benefits are ceased, approximately half of child SSI recipients are left with no means to support themselves in adulthood, with 9.4% returning to SSI within 10 years. (Hemmeter & Stegman Bailey, 2015) OOD’s VR program has the potential to affect change in this environment, including offering support for postsecondary education.
In 2007, SSA conducted a study in cooperation with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) examining the outcomes achieved by SSI youth who applied for postsecondary education at NTID. Perhaps the most compelling result of this study addresses the outcomes achieved by graduates in comparison to those who did not attend NTID at all. The study authors noted that “[c]ompared with SSI children who were accepted to NTID but chose not to attend, SSI children who graduated from NTID left the SSI program 19 months earlier, were less likely to reenter the program, and at age 30 had increased their earnings by an estimated 49 percent.” (Weathers, et al, 2007) Those differences are significant and strongly suggest that a potential strategy for reducing dependence on SSI among youth recipients is to emphasize postsecondary education as a path to employment.
Opportunity also exists to increase engagement with youth recipients of SSI and their families to create awareness of different paths to independence outside of SSI. Additional authorized services under Pre-ETS encourage coordination with local education agencies, and building upon existing partnerships with the Ohio Department of Education, these could provide a framework under which OOD can increase involvement with youth recipients of SSI.