Panel Paper: Learning from State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies on the Eve of WIOA: State Differences in Service Receipt and Employment Outcomes By Applicant Employment Status

Friday, November 3, 2017
Burnham (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Sarah Croake and David Mann, Mathematica Policy Research

This study examines state variation in State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (SVRA) outcomes for applicants in four different employment statuses at the time of application, and identifies SVRAs with consistently strong outcomes. These four employment statuses approximate groups affected by recent changes to the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which increased focus on SVRA service priorities for several applicant subpopulations, including transition-age youth, workers receiving subminimum wages, and workers with competitive and integrated employment.

We used publicly available RSA-911 data consisting of SVRA cases closed in FY 2014 to calculate two outcomes: (1) whether applicants to SVRAs received services and, (2) of those who did, whether they exited services with employment. We examined these outcomes for four subpopulations of applicants: applicants working for pay without supports (N=75,558), applicants working in other types of paid employment (N=11,881), students not employed at application (N=91,287) and neither students nor working for pay at application (N=345,201).

We used logistic regression to model the odds of each outcome as a function of applicant characteristics, with a separate regression model for each of the four applicant subpopulations. We then estimated marginal effects to predict the percentage of each applicant subpopulation who would have achieved the outcome if all of them had received services from a certain SVRA. For each outcome and applicant subpopulation, we identified SVRAs in the top and bottom quartiles.

Outcomes differed between applicant subpopulations. Across SVRAs, the two employed applicant subpopulations had the highest service receipt and exits with employment. This may reflect group-level differences in employment barriers and facilitators, as well as other factors 

Within each applicant subpopulation, there was variation in outcomes between SVRAs. In all four subpopulations, SVRA variation was greater for the share of applicants receiving services than in the share employed at program exit. SVRA variation was particularly large for students not employed at application relative to other applicant subpopulations. These findings may reflect SVRA differences in service provision, in addition to other state- and SVRA-level factors including, referral sources, and job opportunities.

Some SVRAs had consistently strong outcomes. Seven SVRAs were in the highest quartile on both outcomes for one or more applicant subpopulations. However, no SVRAs were in the highest quartile for all four applicant subpopulations.

There may be opportunities to engage the SVRAs that are consistently in the top quartile to identify promising program components, and share this information with other SVRAs as they work to comply with WIOA service priorities. SVRAs also have an opportunity to improve service delivery to applicant groups with relatively lower outcomes.