Kelli Crane, Ph.D.
Ruth Allison, MBA
Jacque Hyatt, MA
Richard Luecking, Ed.D.
Laura Owens, Ph.D.
Bonnie Miller, JD
Richard Luecking Ed.D.
Ellen Fabian, Ph.D.
George Tilson, Ed.D.
Paul Wehman, Ph.D.
Michael West, Ph.D.
Adam Sima, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Getzel, MA
The concept of seamless transition for this Toolkit borrows from the Transition Services Integration Model (TSIM) originally implemented by Certo, Luecking, et al. (2009) which endeavors to integrate services at the point of transition so that the first day after school exit looks no different than the last day of school. That is, students exit school already in a job, with supports in place to keep this job and to pursue new jobs and career advancement throughout their adult life. Thus, we refer to the move from school to employment and adult life as “seamless” because there is no interruption of service and support after school exit to maintain employment.
While TSIM addresses services integrated during the final year in school, the research of the Center had identified additional elements that begin much earlier in high school and that include important components that contribute to successful seamless transition. It also broadens the concept of “seamless-ness” to include the uninterrupted movement from secondary school to other activities designed to lead to post-secondary jobs and careers, including post-secondary education, occupational training, and linkages to services designed to facilitate adult employment.
For the purposes of this Toolkit, then, seamless transition is both a process and an outcome. It is defined as:
A sequential delivery of specific preparatory and coordinated services that begin in early high school and continue through post-school follow-up supports, with the intended outcome of each student employed in an individualized, integrated job of choice and/or enrolled in postsecondary education prior to school exit.
No one involved in facilitating student and youth transition should be in a position to figure out how to make this happen on their own. Nor should they be in a position to make it up as they go along. Fortunately, there is a growing volume of research to show the way.Read less >
Here's what contemporary research says:
Work experience in high school is the most important factor in predicting adult employment. For example, Sima, et al. (2014) examined the data from the National Longitudinal Study 2. They found that those youth who were employed for pay in high school were universally more likely to be employed at the later point than those who were not employed, with the percentage of employment ranging from 61.6% to 88.5%. Additionally, family expectations of work contributed to increased prospects of post school employment. Moreover, they found that even youth considered “at risk” of poor employment outcomes are likely to achieve employment under circumstances of exposure to work in high school (Sima, West, et al., 2014).
Similarly, Gold, Fabian & Luecking (2014) found that in a national youth employment program operated by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities (MFPD) over 80% of participating youth with a range of disabilities achieved successful employment. MFPD’s program, called Bridges… from school to work, or simply Bridges, achieved these results in programs operated in primarily urban areas serving predominantly minority youth. In addition, these outcomes were consistent regardless of the economic effect of the recent Great Recession in the respective cities where Bridges operates.
In another study of Bridges, Dong, Fabian & Luecking found that student job placement rates were primarily attributed to student characteristics and job match efforts, rather than the quality of schools they attend. In other words, regardless of where students attended school, what kinds of educational services they received at those schools, and what kinds of neighborhoods in which those schools were located, the presence of a concerted effort to create job opportunities resulted in positive employment outcomes.
One more striking example of the value of work experiences and work was provided by one study of the National Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD) (Fraker, 2014). YTD intended to focus on youth receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI eligibility requires youth to have a significant disability and low family income. The dual influences of disability and poverty have contributed to these youth as a group to experience among the most intractably low employment rates among transitioning youth. In a study of youth in the Miami, Florida, YTD program, Fraker, et al., found that of the over 800 youth who participated, youth who experienced paid work as part of their transition intervention had a significantly higher rate of employment and earned more income three years later than those youth who did not participate in the intervention. In other words, the impact of both poverty and disability can be minimized when transition programs offer work opportunities.
Finally, it is important to mention that many other researchers have identified work experience and work in high school as predictors of successful adult employment (Carter, et al., 2010; Test et al., 2009). This was the case over 15 year ago (Luecking & Fabian, 2001) and over 30 years ago (Hazasi, et al., 1985). It is still the case. Evolving research and practice are now revealing how to make this the norm rather than the exception.Read less >
Students and youth with disabilities will be touched by multiple systems, entities and professionals at various times during their movement through secondary education and beyond. For this reason, collaboration and interagency partnerships have long been promoted as essential components of effective transition practice. In fact, there is recent research that suggests that not only is collaboration important, but under the right conditions it can lead to desired outcomes for youth with disabilities in transition from school to careers and adult life.
This means that various combinations of service components will have to work together on behalf of commonly served youth, with the common goal of adult employment for these youth. These entities can include schools, vocational rehabilitation agencies, intellectual and developmental disabilities agencies, mental health agencies, workforce programs, adult employment programs, public benefits management programs, and other social service programs. For example, one model of seamless transition service collaboration was implemented and studied in 11 school districts in Maryland (Luecking & Luecking, 2015). Through local collaborations and between educators, vocational rehabilitation counselors, adult employment service providers, and other partners, youth eligible for vocational rehabilitation services participated in a sequential series of services that resulted in seamless transition to employment and/or enrollment in postsecondary education or training. One way of depicting the flow of transition services and the accompanying collaboration is adapted from the Maryland demonstration and depicted in Figure 1.
The Workforce Innovation Opportunities Act (WIOA), passed by Congress in 2014, stipulates that vocational rehabilitation agencies should work with schools so that work experiences occur well before projected school exit. WIOA reinforces what research has demonstrated – work experience in high school is important for career development, AND collaboration between schools, vocational rehabilitation and other partners is likely to make adult employment successful. For example, one study (Fabian & Luecking, 2015) examined transition teams comprised of members who scored high on a scale measuring empowerment, trust and team synergy. These teams did not yield employment outcomes for youth as high as teams comprised of members who scored high on task-oriented perceptions of collaboration. In other words, when collaboration is directly focused on work outcomes for youth– rather than merely feeling good about working together or simply referring youth for a “hand off” to the next responsible party – higher adult employment rates are likely. Without the resources and resolve by transition partners to make this happen, inconsistently implemented interventions and low employment outcomes are likely (Getzel, et al., 2015).Read less >
Work experiences and jobs for youth only happen when employers are willing to offer these opportunities to them. Therefore, one of the most important skills of transition professionals is the ability to engage employers in this endeavor. How do employers regard youth with disabilities and those transition professionals who support these youth in their pursuit of work experiences? What do employers expect when they agree to host youth for work experiences or to hire them for jobs in their companies? What traits characterize those transition professionals who are most successful at helping youth get and keep jobs? Contemporary research points to key important factors that help answer these questions.
First, in a recent study conducted by the Center, researchers explored factors contributing to employer decisions to hire youth with disabilities who were participating in the national multi-site transition program called the Bridges… from school to work program (Bridges) administered by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities (Simonsen, Fabian & Luecking, 2015). One hundred (100) employers of Bridges participants responded to a survey designed to measure information about the company, the employer’s perceptions of the hiring process and the role of the employment specialist.
The respondents indicated that the youths’ “ability to perform the job” was the most important reason for hiring them. Interestingly, only a small percentage (3%) of respondents indicated that the most important reason for hiring the Bridges youth was to fill a current position. Overall confidence in the employment specialist was important regardless of company size. The reputation of the agency (in this case, Bridges) was also an important factor in the hiring decision. Clearly, establishing a strong relationship with the employment specialist and the employment agency is highly valued by this sample.
The study also assessed additional factors that might contribute to the hiring decision, such as the companies’ commitment to diversity, their desire to ‘give back to the community, or their perspective on expanding employment opportunities for all people with disabilities. While some of these factors were endorsed, particularly by smaller companies, they were considerably less important in the hiring decision than the reputation of the employment agency and the relationship established with the employment specialist. Overall, this study and others (e.g., Domzal, Houtenville & Sharma, 2008; Ju, Roberts & Zhang, 2013; Simonsen, Fabian and Luecking, 2011) suggest the following for transition professionals as they seek to effectively engage employers:
These findings also discredit the notion of using want ads and job opening postings as the primary or most effective ways to develop employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Rather, direct job developer contact and interaction with employers to learn of business operational needs are far more useful strategies. These strategies are detailed in the various sections of this Toolkit.Read less >
Students and youth, particularly those who require unusual or extensive support, benefit from assistance from various transition professionals. As they prepare and plan for work experiences and jobs, their success will be largely dependent on the skill and competence of these professionals – professionals who know how to identify students’ best trait and know how to introduce them to prospective employers. What does it take for these professionals to do this well? What attributes and skills do they need? Again, research points to some answers.
The Center conducted intensive telephone surveys with employment specialists from the MFPD Bridges program. The professionals who were interviewed worked with youth with a variety of disabilities (including intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, autism, and emotional disabilities) primarily in urban settings. This program has been in existence since 1989 and has enrolled more than 20,000 youth with disabilities in eight cities over its history to date, with overall job placement and retention rates that exceed 80% in almost all of its locations. It is obvious that the Bridges professionals know what they are doing.
The surveys revealed four distinct personal attributes of these highly effective professionals:
What this tells us is that, above all, there are two very important ingredients for successful employment outcomes for youth with disabilities: the presumption of employability and meeting employer operational needs. The first requires the belief in the inherent value of all people with disabilities as potentially contributing workers, regardless of the nature of the disability or the need for supports. The second requires the recognition that effective transition to employment service delivery is predicated on an understanding of how employers operate and what they need. This Toolkit is predicated on these principles, along with the value of collaboration to make this happen.Read less >
The Center on Transition to Employment has translated the multitude of research from its six discrete studies into easy to use strategies and practices that transition professionals can apply in their everyday work. The research in the toolkit is based on the six studies conducted by the Center and is corroborated other related research and the authors’ extensive field experience. The toolkit is designed for teachers, transition professionals, rehabilitation counselors, adult service providers, families, and youth – anyone seeking to obtain evidenced based and effective strategies for assisting youth transition to employment. It is organized into four sections: Collaboration, Skilled Professionals, Clear Intervention, and Employment. Each section is stand-alone, the reader can opt to read any section in any order. Each section outlines important tools that can be utilized during the transition process. They present common barriers experienced during the transition process and shares effective strategies to address and overcome such barriers.Read less >
Carter, D. A., F. D'Souza, B. J. Simkins, and W. G. Simpson (2010), The gender and ethnic diversity of US boards and board committees and firm financial performance, Corporate Governance: An International Review, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 396-414.
Carter, Erik W., Diane Austin, and Audrey A. Trainor. (2012). Predictors of post school employment outcomes for young adults with severe disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 23, 50–63.
Certo, N., Luecking, R., Murphy, S., Brown, L., Courey, S., & Belanger, D. (2009). Seamless transition and long term support for individuals with severe intellectual disabilities. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 33, 85–95.
Domzal, C., Houtenville, A., and Sharma, R. (2008). Survey of Employer Perspectives on the Employment of People with Disabilities: Technical Report. (Prepared under contract to the Office of Disability and Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor). McLean, VA: CESSI.
Dong, S., Fabian, E., & Luecking, R. (2015). The Impact of School-Based Factors on Youth with Disabilities in Transition. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 30.
Fabian, E. (2007). Urban youth with disabilities: Factors affecting transition employment. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 50, 130–138.
Fabian, E., Simonsen, M. & Luecking, R. (2014). Service system collaboration in transition: An empirical exploration of its effects on rehabilitation outcomes for students with disabilities. Manuscript submitted to the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin.
Fabian, E., & Luecking, R. G. (2015). Does Inter-Agency Collaboration Improve Rehabilitation Outcomes For Transitioning Youth? (Research Brief No. 1504). Center on Transition to Employment for Youth with Disabilities.
Fraker, T., Crane, K, Honeycutt, T., Luecking, R., Mamun, A., & O’Day, B. (in press). The Youth Transition Demonstration Project in Miami, Florida: Design, Implementation, and 3-Year Impacts. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Getzel, E. Wittig, K, Gauer, C. (2015). Use of school-based supported employment fidelity scale as a self-assessment tool for secondary school personnel. Issue Brief: Center on Transition to Employment.
Gold, P.B., Fabian, E.S. & Luecking, R.G. (2013). Job acquisition by urban youth with disabilities transitioning from school to work. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 57, 31 –45.
Hasazi, S., Gordon, L., Roe, C., Finck, J., Hull, M., & Salembier, G. (1985b). A statewide follow-up on post high school employment and residential status of students labeled mentally retarded. Education and Training of the Mentally Retarded, 20, 222-234.
Ju, S., Zhang, D., & Katsiyannis, A. (2013). The causal relationship between academic self concept and academic achievement for students with disabilities: An analysis of SEELS data. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 24, 4-14. Doi: 10.1777/1044207311427727.
Luecking, R., & Fabian, E. (2000). Paid internships and employment success for youth in transition. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 23,205–221.
Luecking, D. & Luecking, R. (2015). Translating Research into a Seamless Transition Model. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 38, 4-13.
Sima, A., Wehman, P., Chan, F., & Luecking, R. (2014). An evaluation of at-risk factors related to employment outcomes for youth with disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/2165143414534887.
Simonsen, M., Fabian, E., Buchanan, L. & Luecking, R. (2011).Strategies used by employment service providers in the job development process: Are they consistent with what employers want? Research Brief published at: http://www.heldrich.rutgers.edu.
Simonsen,M. Fabian, E. & Luecking, R. (2015). Employer Preferences in Hiring Youth with Disabilities. Journal of Rehabilitation https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-409548737/employer-preferences-in-hiring-youth-with-disabilities.
Test, D.W., Mazzotti, V.L., Mustian, A.L., Fowler, C.H., Kortering, L., & Kohler, P. (2009). Evidence-based transition predictors for improving post school outcomes for students with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32,180-181.
Tilson, G. & Simonsen, M. (2012). The personnel factor: Exploring the personal attributes of highly successful employment specialists who work with transition-age youth. Research Brief published at: http://transitiontoemployment.org/files/Publications/ResearchBriefs/CTE_RB_1203.pdf.
Wehman, P., Sima, A., Ketchum, J., West, M., Chan, F., & Luecking, R. (2014). Predictors of Successful Transition from School to Employment for Youth with Disabilities. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. Advance online publication. doi:10:1007/s10926-014-9541-6.Read less >
Crane, K., Allison, R., Hyatt, J., & Luecking, R. (2016). Seamless Transition Toolkit. Rockville, MD: TransCen, Inc.Read less >