Panel Paper: Lessons for Programs Serving Transition-Age Youth: A Comparative Analysis of the U.S. and 10 Other Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Countries

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 10:05 AM
3017 Monroe (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Todd Honeycutt and Lorenzo Moreno, Mathematica Policy Research
This paper summarizes policies and programs of 10 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as the United States, that aim to improve the transition of youth with disabilities to appropriate and gainful employment. To conduct this study, we reviewed the literature available for Australia, Canada, and eight European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. We also conducted a more detailed study of the programs in two countries, Germany and the Netherlands, by consulting with experts. We focused on programs that represented the potential to address the following barriers faced by youth with disabilities in the United States: (1) insufficient employment supports, (2) few services targeted specifically to the needs of youth and young adults, (3) issues with access to adult services, and (4) insufficient coordination of the transition from youth to adult services. In the initial literature review, we found the following. First, to promote employment supports, countries in this study supported a wide range of efforts to promote employment in the following areas: the transition from sheltered to supported employment, the financial incentives offered to workers with disabilities as well as those tied to vocational training, and expanded employer supports. Second, to target programs to the needs of young people, some countries invested in large-scale pilot projects that have helped government agencies to identify what works for youth. Most of the pilots have been part of national youth employment strategies looking for specific programs or program components that can be expanded nationally. Furthermore, there are efforts to provide income support and income supplements specifically for youth in vocational programs. Third, to improve access to adult services, most of the OECD countries in this study are operating programs at various levels of government that centered on consolidating supports; improving the coordination of benefits and services, typically under the oversight of a single agency; promoting automatic eligibility for or access to programs and services; and developing systems for monitoring the performance of local services. Fourth, to promote coordination between youth and adult services, all of the OECD countries in our review have actively pursued solutions to the problem of inadequate coordination of youth and adult services. Several of them have increased linkages to postsecondary education, increased vocational supports, and revised age requirements for gaining eligibility for disability benefits so that there is a continuum between youth and adult services. Although the evidence of whether these policies and programs are effective is missing, with exceptions, they have the potential to offer promising ideas for implementation or testing by the United States. The ideas may not be directly transferable, but if they are proven to be effective they could give new impetus to reforming U.S. programs to achieve more efficient, evidence-based transition options for this population.

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