Highlights program design, lessons learned and outcomes of two projects designed to improve the self-sufficiency of youth with disabilities, using an integrated service approach of partner collaboration through One-Stop Career Center Systems.

Focuses on two case studies from Colorado and Minnesota.

“Given the evidence linking education and work experience to higher levels of self-sufficiency, there has been increasing focus on improving services to transitional youth (ages 14-24), particularly youth who are disadvantaged. Out-of-school youth, youth in and aging out of foster care, youth in the juvenile justice system, children of incarcerated parents, migrant youth, and Native American and Indian youth are all identified as in serious need of more effective transitional strategies and positive outcomes. Youth with disabilities are also at-risk, facing challenges such as poverty, undiagnosed disabilities and a lack of academic supports, mentoring and social connections. Yet, despite being a national priority, few transitional programs are successfully addressing all of the critical components involved in preparing youth with disabilities and/or other challenges for self-sufficiency.

“States and local regions must take action to learn how to effectively integrate youth with disabilities into their program models. Strategies that include heightened disability awareness, increased knowledge of key resources such as benefits counseling and independent living skills training, and use of integrated team-approaches with varied service systems can promote more meaningful participation, experiences and opportunities to youth with disabilities and/or other challenges.

“In order to begin to gain equal momentum in school, work and independent living, youth service providers need a greater awareness of the experiences of youth with disabilities and more substantial training on available resources. Through the Disability Program Navigator (DPN) Initiative, One-Stop Career Centers, schools and local youth programs across the country are gaining this level of awareness and support in helping to advance youth with disabilities and/or other challenges in education and employment” (p.1-2).  (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Promising Practices: Maximizing the Self-Sufficiency of Youth with Disabilities in the One-Stop Career Center System

Major Findings & Recommendations

CASE STUDY 1: Colorado Youth Work Incentive Network of Support (CO Youth WINS) “The Challenge: To remove major challenges and disincentives to work for youth receiving Social Security disability benefits and maximize their economic self-sufficiency. “The Solution: Employ an ‘Independence Team’ (I-TEAM) made up of a [Disability Program Navigator] (DPN), Benefits Planner and Career Counselor for an integrated service approach with youth receiving Social Security disability benefits. “The Outcome: CO I-TEAMs assisted youth with disabilities receiving Social Security disability benefits to reduce challenges to work and encouraged greater economic self-sufficiency.”(p.3-4) CASE STUDY 2: Minnesota’s Public Workforce System Youth Zones “The Challenge: Transition-age youth, particularly youth with disabilities, do not readily access MN’s One-Stop Career Centers because they are not perceived as youth- or disability-friendly. “The Solution: Create accessible, integrated youth- and disability-friendly ‘Zones’ throughout MN’s One-Stop Career Centers where all youth can explore career advancement. “The Outcome: Youth throughout MN, including youth with disabilities and/or other challenges, frequently access the ‘Zones’ within the One-Stop Career Centers, gaining valuable skills to successfully transition into adulthood” (p.7-8). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)