Research Article

Article Details

Citation:  Awsumb, J.M.; Balcazar, F.E.; & Keel, J.M. (2020). Youth with disabilities: Are vocational rehabilitation services improving employment outcomes?. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 52 (1), 61-73.
Title:  Youth with disabilities: Are vocational rehabilitation services improving employment outcomes?
Authors:  Awsumb, J.M.; Balcazar, F.E.; & Keel, J.M.
Year:  2020
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported

Structured abstract:

Purpose:  Through a sequential explanatory mixed-methodology approach, this study explored the adulthood employment outcomes of youth with disabilities that received services from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) while in high school.
Data collection and analysis:  A VR database was examined to understand differences in the employment outcomes of 4,731 youth with disabilities based on demographic characteristics and services received. Individual interviews with key stakeholders were conducted to expand on the results of the quantitative data.
Findings:  Results revealed individual and systemic challenges for VR supporting youth with disabilities transitioning to adulthood. Employment outcomes were worse for females, African American youth, and youth with mental disabilities (also known as mental illness). In contrast, males, Latino(a) youth, and youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities fared well in the VR system. Analysis of the VR status progression system showed that few students were employed, and more than half of students were eligible but received no services.
Conclusions:  Overall, students with disabilities in this urban public school system must receive more comprehensive VR services to attain their employment goals. In relation to successful or unsuccessful status progression, three main themes emerged: (1) family involvement and support, (2) resources and opportunities, and (3) systemic barriers. Limitations and implications for practice and research are discussed.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Cerebral palsy
Chronic mental illness
Cognitive / intellectual impairment
Developmental disabilities
Down syndrome
Hearing impairment
Learning disabilities
Multiple sclerosis
Muscular dystrophy
Spinal cord injury (SCI)
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Severe physical disability
Multiple disabilities
Populations served:  Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
Transition-age students (14 - 22)
Interventions:  Vocational rehabilitation
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition
Full-time employment