Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE): PROMISE Programs’ Use of Effective Transition Practices in Serving Youth with Disabilities

Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Oct 19, 2018
Authors
Todd Honeycutt, Brittney Gionfriddo, and Gina Livermore

Key Findings:

  • All of the PROMISE programs offer a range of services and activities deemed by third-party organizations as effective in helping youth with disabilities successfully transition to adulthood. Key features of the programs include: interagency collaboration; connections to local programs and service providers through case management, benefits counseling, and financial literacy training; career awareness and paid work experiences; and parent training and information.
  • Of the services consistently offered by the PROMISE programs, only one (paid employment and work experience) has a level of evidence categorized as more than promising. The level of evidence for other PROMISE services and practices is weaker because none has been rigorously tested.
  • Future findings from the PROMISE evaluation will shed light on whether the package of services offered by the programs is effective in improving education, employment, and other outcomes for SSI youth and their families. However, the current plan for the national evaluation does not include assessing the effectiveness of specific components of a program’s service package, nor will it allow an assessment of the relative returns on investment of providing one type of service or another.

Improving the educational and employment outcomes of youth with disabilities—and reducing their dependence on Supplemental Security Income (SSI)—are high priorities for federal policymakers. To address these priorities, the U.S. Department of Education, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Labor launched a joint initiative known as Promoting Readiness of Minors in SSI (PROMISE). The PROMISE initiative funds and evaluates model demonstration projects that promote positive changes for SSI youth, starting at ages 14 through 16, and their families.

In this report, we use information collected as part of the national evaluation of PROMISE to describe services offered by the six PROMISE projects. Specifically, we look at services that reflect what are considered to be best practices in assisting transition-age youth with disabilities. All of the PROMISE projects offer a range of services and activities that have been deemed by third-party organizations as effective in helping youth with disabilities make a successful transition to adulthood. Key services include interagency collaboration; connections to local programs and service providers through case management, benefits counseling, and financial literacy training; career awareness and paid work experiences; and parent training and information. But only one of these services (paid work experiences) has strong evidence supporting its effectiveness. The level of evidence for other PROMISE services and practices is weaker because none has been rigorously tested. The evaluation of the PROMISE projects could increase the evidence base on what works in helping SSI youth make the transition to adulthood.