Bridging the Gap: A Comparative Assessment of Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Practices with Transition-Age Youth

This document uses a case study approach to explore the variety of approaches of services delivered to youth with disabilities during the transition time from school to work.

This research study applies to career practitioners as it outlines several strategies that will assist them to provide the support needed for youths to make the transition from school to work better.

This study uses eight vocational rehabilitation agencies and takes an in-depth examination of five areas within an organization. Five of the vocational rehabilitation agencies have high transition of youth from school to work whereas the other three had low transition rates. The five areas are:

  1. Organization and collaboration strategies
  2. Outreach, application, and strategies
  3. Service Delivery
  4. Employment
  5. Monitoring and evaluation

Further to this, the characteristics of the agencies were compared to see what contributed to the low or high transition rates.

The eight agencies employed many similar strategies in serving youths with disabilities such as dedicating staff to serve youths and implementing several creative ways to conduct outreach to schools and in-school work. However, this study also observed fifteen different characteristics across the five areas between the high and low transition agencies. Some of these fifteen characteristics were:

  1. The leadership with transition responsibilities
  2. Intensive school-based programs
  3. Outreach plans and activities that target parents
  4. Varied performance benchmarks for counselors
  5. Monitoring of youth-specific programs

Three policy implications developed from the findings from this study were:

  1. Many of the fifteen characteristics were used in best practices scenarios and associated with agencies with high transition rates. Using these practices may help youths with disabilities bridge the gap to adulthood.
  2. Perhaps a combination of the characteristics may help the youth transition better, not just using one of the fifteen characteristics.
  3. The development of a monitoring system for youth is encouraged as it helps the agency staff know how to guide the youth to reflect their goals and needs.