Evaluation of Disability Employment Policy Programs
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has funded pilot demonstration projects across the United States to build the capacity and change the workforce development system to better serve adults and youths with disabilities. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of these demonstration programs and identify effective practices and strategies, ODEP conducts independent evaluation and case studies through external contractors. Now in its third year, the external evaluator has collected both quantitative and qualitative data to identify effective practices and systems change evolving from these programs. An outcome analysis of sample data shows that ODEP policy demonstration projects are serving unemployed persons (78 percent aged 21 to 50) in the prime working age groups (meaning they will contribute to taxes for a long time), many of whom are among the most "difficult to place" (70 percent with psychiatric or developmental disabilities). Overall, there is also preliminary evidence that indicates the fact that ODEP's Policy Demonstration Projects are helping customers to get off income and other support programs through employment. Utilizing case studies, ODEP continues to conduct a multi-site longitudinal study to describe the challenges and success of local workforce development systems to effectively serve people with disabilities. Some examples of the challenges that are apparent throughout the system such as reductions in staff and high turnover, lack of resources, funding, and complying with performance measures were identified. It is anticipated that in the remaining two years of the study, ODEP will develop a comprehensive and longitudinal "road map" that documents the early implementation of the Workforce Investment Act as it applies to adults and youth with disabilities.
More information about the findings from this research and a copy of the report synthesizing the previous qualitative and quantitative research of the disability employment policy programs is available here.