Transcript of NCSET teleconference call held on December
Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities:
Building State and Local Capacity to Link and Align Resources
Rhonda Basha, Supervisory Policy Advisor, Youth
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Joan Wills, Director, Center for Workforce Development
Institute on Educational Leadership
Kelli Crane, Senior Policy Analyst
MS. MACK: I want to welcome everyone to the
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) December
teleconference call, Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth
with Disabilities: Building State and Local Capacity to Link and
In September 2003 NCSET sponsored a National Leadership Summit
for state teams. One of the critical issues that was identified
by these state teams was the issue of aligning resources, or interagency
collaboration. How do you link various systems together to help
young people with disabilities to successfully transition to postsecondary
education, employment, and community living? There are a lot of
different efforts and different ways to approach what is now being
called “resource mapping”. The Academy for Educational
Development has developed a program that trains youth to do a resource
map of services in their community. The Search Institute is working
with a number of schools and communities throughout the country
to help identify and link the resources needed to insure that youth
and communities have access to assets that make communities healthy
and youth develop into successful adults. At NCSET we have been
doing quite a bit of work in this area, as has the National Collaborative
on Workforce and Disability for Youth, to insure successful transition
for youth with disabilities. Today is the first of a number of conversations
that NCSET will offer to help you learn more about resource mapping
efforts and how you can link to them.
Our first speaker today is Rhonda Basha from the Office of Disability
Employment Policy (ODEP) in the U.S. Department of Labor. Rhoda
is going to talk to you about recently funded programs and policy
directions that ODEP is taking to promote linking resources. Our
second speaker will be Joan Wills, who is Director of the National
Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Y) at
the Institute on Educational Leadership. Joan is going to talk about
NCWD/Y’s technical assistance efforts with ODEP grantees.
Finally, Kelli Crane from TransCen is going to talk about what NCSET
has been doing to promote resource mapping and interagency collaboration.
MS. BASHA: I’m the head of the Youth Policy
Team at ODEP. Although I have been in this position a very short
while, I have been working under Richard Horne, who previously was
the head for several years of both the Office of Disability and
Employment Policy and the former Presidential Task Force on Employment
of Adults with Disabilities. ODEP was created in 2001 to bring a
heightened and permanent focus to the goal of increasing employment
of persons with disability. We knew that despite numerous mandates
that date back over three decades, the unemployment rate of people
with disabilities continues to hover around 70 percent. Now at the
same time we know that employers with jobs often don’t know
how to find and hire qualified workers with disabilities. And our
job is kind of to put them together with each other, to make sure
that the people have the skills that they need so that they can
be qualified workers in the work force in the 21st century. We are
the only agency in the Federal Government that deals solely with
disability employment policy, and is headed by an assistant secretary.
We seek to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities
through policies and technical assistance, which focus on both the
supply and demand sides of the labor market. We try to expand access
to training, education, employment supports, assisted technology,
integrated employment, entrepreneurial development, small business
opportunities, on the supply side. And we build partnerships with
employers to increase their awareness of the benefits of hiring
people with disabilities and to make sure that the workers have
the skills that are our employers need on the demand side of the
We are a policy office. We don’t regulate. We don’t
adjudicate. We don’t investigate. We fund pilot projects and
research and technical assistance efforts which focus specifically
on establishing partnerships with employers and assessing and meeting
their business needs, making the government a model employer and
assuring that qualified individuals with disabilities have the skills
they need in the 21st century workplace and increasing the capacity
of the work force development system to increase positive employment
outcomes for both youth and adults with disabilities. We are engaged
in a number of activities right now, which focus on increasing successful
employment and postsecondary opportunities for youth with disabilities.
Our work in this area is in close partnership with National Collaborative
on Workforce and Disability for Youth who have done some research
over the past two years or so to determine what it is that all young
people need to be able to transition successfully. Based on their
reviews in various areas including education, vocational rehabilitations,
and workforce development, we’ve determined that all young
people need to have access to certain things. They need to have
access to high quality standards-based education regardless of the
setting, information about career options, and exposure to the world
of work and opportunities to develop social, civic, and leadership
skills, strong connections to caring adults, access to safe places
to interact with their peers, and support services which allow them
to become independent adults.
Based on these operating principles, we are working through each
of our youth related projects to ensure that certain design features
that are important for youth with disabilities to transition successfully
are incorporated into their work. These design features are preparatory
experiences, connecting activities, work-based experiences, and
As we look across the government, we know that we are too often
the problem. We know that there are all these systems out there
– workforce development, education, health, housing, technology,
and transportation systems that need to work together if we are
going to be able to effectively serve our young people with disabilities.
We know that there is a lot that needs to be coordinated.
One of the ways that we are looking at coordinating these efforts
is through the use of intermediary organizations. We have this year
awarded eight what we call Innovative State Alignment Grants. These
are five-year grants of approximately $500,000 each to state workforce
investment floors or the functional equivalent entities, to allow
states to conduct resource mapping so that they can look at their
youth service deliveries and structure in light of what we said
were the evidence-based transition operating principles and to develop
a plan to improve the transition outcomes through the use of local
intermediaries. And to figure out what is the best way, conducting
local pilot demonstrations to determine how these partnerships can
– how intermediaries can best be used to develop the necessary
partnerships at the local level.
We also are incorporating the idea of the design features in our
High School/High Tech Implementation and Development grants. We
awarded seven of these this year. They are approximately $250,000
each. Two of them are what we call our development grants. They
are one-year grants that are to help build the capacity of these
state level organizations to be able to ultimately develop High
School/High Tech programs statewide. And the implementation grants
are five-year grants, which basically are geared toward building
the necessary infrastructure that you need to have statewide High
School/High Tech programs and to ensure their sustainability once
the grant funding ceases.
Finally, this year, we are funding close to $900,000 in grants
that are being used to explore how intermediaries can help build
the capacity of community faith-based organizations to better serve
the mentoring needs of young people with disabilities.
We also are one of the national sponsors of National Disability
Mentoring Day, which we co-sponsor with the American Association
of People with Disabilities. Nationally this day takes place each
year on the third Wednesday in October. Next year (2004) it will
be on October 20th. We urge you all to get involved with that.
In addition, we fund two programs, which provide important information
that ultimately feeds into the policy development process. We fund
the Job Accommodation Network which many of you maybe familiar with,
which works to provide technical assistance to employers and employees
on job accommodations. In addition, we also fund something that
we call the Employer Assistance Referral Network, which is a network
which connects employers with the job placement professionals who
have identified qualified candidates with disabilities. Ultimately,
these two programs are going to be used much more on a research
basis for us to get an idea of the efficacy of the services that
we are providing, and to determine what employers feel needs to
be looked at next to adequately meet their demand needs.
We also fund the WorkForce Recruitment Program, which is a summer
internship program for college students with disabilities. This
past year there were 360 students that were placed in various Federal
agencies. The plans for this program are to expand it on a private
sector basis to allow more internships. There is also a new internship
program that is starting with the Washington Intern Center.
And we fund and manage the DisabilityInfo.gov Web site, which
is a comprehensive cross-agency initiative that was started as a
result of an executive memorandum which President Bush signed in
August of 2002 giving us 60 days to create this massive Web site.
I also wanted to let you know about a couple of other things that
are going on in the Department of Labor that you might be interested
in. There is a new Web site that has just been developed called
Career Voyages, www.careervoyages.gov.
This is a Web site that provides detailed information about the
fastest growth industries and occupations in a format that is very
useable for young people, and the education that is required to
prepare for these types of jobs, job openings in your particular
area, as well as licensing requirements, and the growth rates for
MS. WILLS: I’m Joan Wills, at the Institute
for Educational Leadership and involved with managing the National
Collaborative on Workforce and Disabilities for Youth. And since
this teleconference is about resource mapping, I thought that –
instead of talking all about the Collaborative, I would zero in
on an effort that I hope many people who on the call – if
you are in a state that has one of the state pilot projects that
Rhonda talked about – that you take advantage of becoming
familiar with the ODEP project in your state. Also even if you’re
in a state that didn’t win, it should be of value to keep
track of what is going on in those states because I think there
are some very interesting opportunities. Rhonda mentioned the fact
that one of the first things that we did as a Collaborative was
to organize the research, the evidence-based research, of what is
effective practice. This research captures knowledge that we’ve
gained for the last 10 years and Rhonda spoke of the design features.
We have a wide variety of materials that talk about what the implications
of those design features are that are applicable for an individual
local program all the way up through a state that can develop some
common strategic plans across agencies. It shouldn’t come
as a surprise to anybody who has been involved in transition issues
that – as Rhonda gently pointed out – sometimes the
problems are not really with the youth themselves but the institutions
that we’ve created including the complexity of the institutions
that we’ve created. So it is not surprising collaboration
One of the key findings in the research that we did is that no
one agency can do it alone. We will never, ever be successful in
terms of collaboration for all youth, making effective transitions,
and most specifically youth with disabilities unless we find new,
different, and more efficient ways to collaborate between the agencies.
So what we have done in terms of some technical assistance tools
that we have made available to the grantees is to organize resource
mapping work that does essentially the following three things.
First of all, it was to make sure that at the state level that
people are all using the same information. I know those of you who
have been involved in transition activities in the past know how
difficult it is across agencies to make sure that you are dealing
with the common database and establishing a common agreement about
who is disabled, what the characteristics are of the young people
who need to be served, etc. So one thing is to begin to grapple
in a very serious way – developing a strong profile of the
youth based upon common categories and definitions.
The pilot projects need to do that (develop a common profile)
now so that at the end of five years, ODEP will be able to say to
Congress and to the rest of Federal Government and everyone else
– this is what has happened to the youth. So getting a handle
on who in terms of young people coming up through the pipeline is
an absolutely critical activity.
A second thing that we’ve done in terms of resource mapping
– I use the term content resource mapping for lack of a better
word. For example, Rhonda mentioned the High School/High Tech –
that is organized around the four design features of what we know
about what young people need. In that resource mapping – essentially
we are suggesting that the state start by finding out which state
agencies and their sub-state agents – and those sub-state
agents may be schools, workforce boards, developmental disability
organizations, community rehabilitation agencies, etc. The resource
mapping process for HS/HT is to determine what is being provided
to youth within each of the four design features (e.g. career assessments,
work-based learning, benefit planning) and who is it that is providing
dollars for the services aligned to the four different features.
Let me take the simplest as an example. Work-based learning –
it is not good enough to know that people are promoting opportunities
for young people to learn about the world of work. States need to
know, in order to be a strategic as possible, who is providing what
types of work-based learning programs, for whom, under what conditions,
and what terms. What kind of guidance has gone out to the localities
on that topic area? The same is true for what we call connecting
activities – or using the parlance of IDEA and vocational
rehabilitation – related services. So in a very systematic
way, identifying who is providing support to whom so that you end
up with a state map organized by the content of the very specific
activities that have been identified as what youth need.
For work-based learning we have a particular definition –
it must be connected to what occurs in the classroom. It is just
not going to work. The research shows that if you have a strong
connection in terms of work-based learning, to what occurs in the
classroom, three important things happen. One, the student is more
likely to stay in school. The second point is they are more likely
to go on for postsecondary education. And three, perhaps the most
important factor is – in the end they end up normally earning
more money. So that’s an example from the HS/HT program about
what needs to be focus of a resource mapping exercise.
What Rhonda talked about in terms of the intermediaries, the way
I talk about this sometimes, and hopefully it will help make a distinction
for you – is the intermediary project is focused on what kinds
of institution or partnerships do we need to create at the local
level to improve the individual direct services level as well at
the regional or local planning level – what is missing in
terms of meeting the needs for both youth and employers.
Keep in mind – Rhonda said they focused on a demand side
as well as supply side. So we have essentially two significant five-year
demonstration projects going forward. One focused on a program model
(i.e. the HS/HT program), not with the specifics of the program,
but organized around what it is that young people need. And that
can be delivered in a variety of venues and in a variety of ways.
And then what kinds of tinkering – and I think the word
tinkering is important here – with creating new, different
kinds of institutional charters. The stubborn statistics that we
all know about in terms of youth with disabilities not being successful
in the workplace – is inadequate wage earning as well as inadequate
participation in postsecondary education.
What is it that we need to do to package more efficiently and
effectively the services they need through intermediaries? That
is what these pilots are testing. That is a very quick overview.
And I will now be quiet so we can hear from Kelli.
MS. CRANE: Good afternoon. My name is Kelli Crane
and I am with the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
and at TransCen, which is located in Rockville, Maryland. As Mary
indicated there are many, many approaches to resource mapping. The
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition has been engaged
in a number of these approaches. We really see resource mapping
-- as Joan and Rhonda mentioned -- as a tool or a process that can
be more strategic planning. Basically, bottom line, it’s a
way for all of us to work smarter. As Mary mentioned, some of the
approaches that we have looked at are the individual mapping that
youth do in the community. AED has been doing a lot of that. There
has also been some individual commitment to doing that, strictly
with youth with disabilities – folks at George Washington
and at TransCen as well.
We’ve also been involved in some initiatives to look at
better aligning youth services under the WIA system. And we’ve
been out in states working on that approach. So, based on a lot
of the experience we’ve had in different states and aligning
ourselves with these different groups, we’ve looked at resource
mapping in a number of different ways. We look at an approach that
would best meet the needs of the states that we’ve worked
And again as Mary mentioned, we did have a National Leadership
Summit on improving results for youth with disabilities in September.
Many of the states that I heard on the call today were at the Summit.
One of the priority issues that came out of that Summit –
and a issue states continue to struggle with – is how do we
really align systems or get better collaboration to improve results
for youth with disabilities. More specifically, states said they
need technical assistance around really aligning services and doing
some resource mapping.
So our approach – and what the National Center on Secondary
Education and Transition is looking at in terms of resource mapping,
is identifying those services, systems, and delivery strategies
that serve youth. The intent is to align these resources in the
community into one comprehensive system so that outcomes for youth
with disabilities are improved, both secondary education and transition
So how can we get more youth employed? How can we get more youth
into postsecondary education training programs, living independently?
So again, bottom line is – how do we develop systems to improve
outcomes for youth with disabilities?
The process that we’ve been looking at is similar to Joan’s
approach which was built on the National Center’s model. We
go out into communities and learn about all their resources. What
are the resources? What are the assets? We don’t really like
to call this a needs assessment because we like to build on the
good things that are happening in the community.
We identify the resources -- what’s out there? We don’t
want to re-invent anything. How can we build on the services, the
delivery strategies, the programs that are already available? So
we go out there and we identify all this stuff. Also what’s
important here is – we don’t look at traditional services
that serve youth with disabilities. Or I should say, we look at
those, but in addition, we look at generic services for youth as
Essentially one of the first steps is a broad sweep of a community.
What’s out there? What can help meet the needs of youth with
disabilities? So once we’ve identified all this resources
that are out there, we come back and we get on the same page and
develop a vision. What is the vision for developing a comprehensive
system? How can we bring these all together?
The National Center’s approach maps around developing goals,
similar to what Joan has mentioned. A goal might be – how
do we increase the number of youth with disabilities in employment?
This is a goal we can map around. Or how do we increase the number
of youth with disabilities accessing postsecondary education? We
would map around that.
We want to make sure that these goals are measurable. And then
we again look at all the stuff that might fit under this goal and
we begin to align them. We identify the gaps or duplications and
determine how these resources can be aligned. Once this is completed
we move to strategic planning. Again, the intent is to align these
systems to promote positive possible outcomes for youth with disabilities.
The intermediary piece also fits into some of the work that we’ve
doing in states. In most of these states we have identified an intermediary
organization to help manage and organize the mapping process, the
intermediary being the convener or a broker that can bring this
all together for a community, for a state, for a region. For example
in one of the states we have worked they are organized regionally
and the regional education service agency serves as the intermediary
to pull all these folks together.
I’ve seen other states that really look at how the interagency
transition council can go about and kick off this resource mapping
process. Again, it leads to strategic planning. And resource mapping
can happen before strategic planning or it can happen if a strategic
plan is already developed. You can do resource mapping and build
up that strategic plan as well.
So, again, based on what the National Center on Secondary Education
and Transition is learning from the states through the Summit, individual
conversations with states, and conferences, resource mapping is
something they want more information on and want assistance in doing
in their states -- we really understand that it’s what states
want more of and they need some help doing it. So we are in the
process of developing an essential tool on resource mapping. We
already have several tools that we do use for states. But we are
packaging this into a document that we can share with all the states.
This will allow states to go about and do their own resource mapping.
We are also looking at developing a Community of Practice around
resource mapping, so that we can get states that are interested
in this concept together and talk about it.
We’ve already developed a brief on resource mapping that
is available on line. So those are a couple of the things that the
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition is doing around
MS. MACK: OK. Why don’t we just open it
up to questions now.
MS. MONTANNI, MONTGOMERY: This is Samantha Montanni
from Montgomery in Skillman, New Jersey. She was talking about a
community of practice just a moment ago. And she mentioned a Web
site. Does she have that address?
MS. CRANE: I didn’t mention a Web site,
but you can go to the National Center
on Secondary Education and Transition Web site, http://www.ncset.org.
MR. CHUNG: This is Bill Chung from New York City.
I was interested in hearing about what strategies have worked in
trying to engage employers?
MS. WILLS: One of the things that we have prepared,
a document titled Making the Connections: Growing and Supporting
New Organizations. It’s not yet on the Web site because
I still need to change the last page. Just as we did some research
on what works for youth, and what is it that they need, there is
a body of research and experience about what it is an employer needs.
The information about what employers need has not been validated
by longitudinal evaluations but it has been validated by over a
decade of working with employers. There is really a common agreement
about what it is employers need from public workforce development
institutions. This paper provides that information.
Essentially, there are two levels of attention that employers
need. I will give you a telephone number and I will send if you
are interested in it, a copy of the paper before it gets onto our
Web site. It identifies two levels of things employers want from
public sector education and training organizations. One is, at what
we call the micro level, the individual contract. But equally important,
employers don’t think that the public sector side is very
user friendly to them. And they need some road maps. And they need
some very specific help/supports which have been too long ignored.
So let me give you a telephone number as well as a Web site. The
toll free telephone number – and there all you need to do
is to ask for a copy of the intermediary paper. That telephone number
is 877-871-0744. The Web site
is http://www.ncwd-youth.info/. And Mary, it’s probably important
for us to advertise in two ways here.
NCSET is a part of the Collaborative and I’m a member of
NCSET’s working group. So there is a lot of cross-fertilization
that is going on between the two national technical assistance centers.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: This is -- in Maryland.
Are you aware of any research that studies the impact of the tying
of high school diplomas to standardized assessments and /or then,
you know, -- under consideration here in Maryland is the tiered
diploma. And what sort of impact that has on transitioning students
MS. MACK: The National Center on Educational
Outcomes has done numerous studies on standards-based education
and its impact on youth with disabilities. The best place to go
for the most recent finding is the NCEO
MS. WILLS: They have also done a specific study
that David had sent to me – a national study on graduation
requirements and diploma options for youth with disabilities.
MS. MACK: Yes that’s right. This area of
research is changing very rapidly so it is best to check out the
most recent findings on a regular basis.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Right, right. Yes,
I’m very concerned that without appropriate transition planning,
so to speak, on the part of the state and the various partners that
we have students existing school who are no longer perceived as
employable, just because they don’t have a standard high school
diploma. In spite the fact that they are able to perform the essential
functions of the job. Not to mention eligibility for, you know,
services, that whole transition piece. So I guess anyway, I’m
MS. WILLS: ... this is Joan again. There really
is no research on your core questions. No analysis, but one should
not be particularly surprised about that. Two more quick points.
I think there will be more rigorous graduation requirements for
youth with disabilities. There is always a lag time between major
public policy shift and new and different – you know, more
rigorous educational graduation requirements hasn’t in fact
caught up with the labor market yet.
And that’s not surprising. The real issue I think that you
need to pay attention to is not whether or not there are four to
five different levels of certificates and et cetera, but the length
between whether a young person is able to move into and does move
into some form of continued education. That’s the issue –
I frankly – and this maybe speaking heresy. It’s not
that I’m not concerned about the certificate issue, because
I am. But if you cannot help a young person continue their education
in a variety of forms whether it’s a community college level
or apprenticeship programs, some kind of formal education. Because
any career focused job in the United States today, basically does
demand post high school education broadly based.
And that, I think, is why we need to keep our eye on that sparrow.
MS. MALLOY: This is Joanne Malloy, from the University
of New Hampshire with the New Hampshire Intermediary Project. And
Joan I just want to echo what you say a million times. And I think
that maybe through our strategic mapping at the state level, we
maybe able to identify some of the disconnects between, you know,
the policies and way schools are being guided. And then what we
know is good practice for kids in transition.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Does ODEP have any
idea whether or not they will be doing a similar RFP next summer
around the resource mapping?
MS. BASHA: At this time, we don’t have
any definitive answer to that question. We haven’t even gotten
our budget yet for this year. And from what we understand, we are
going to be pretty much flat lined in terms of the new money. So
I would think that we – it is certainly something that we
would like to do, but I can’t offer any promises either way.
You all have the authority to do today what the pilots are doing
– you know, $500,000 is not insignificant – and the
first task is only resource mapping. The real task for those intermediaries
will be in thinking through – what is it we want those new
institutions to look like? Resource mapping step one – thinking
through how it is you are going to meet the needs of the two ultimate
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: ... this is the fun
and exciting part I think. But again, almost any state could pick
up on many of the pieces that are currently in there.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Going back to New York’s
question about the employer research – what our agency –
both on our research team and our employer policy team’s –
have been looking at this issue and have done a literature review
and most of the literature that they have located basically dealt
with, you know, how do employers feel in terms of attitudes and/or
– how do they feel about ADA implementation.
There hasn’t been a lot of general research. And that’s
an area that we are starting to focus in on starting this year.
Of you know, what are the things that foster hiring and what are
the things that are negative?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: I believe there is
some information on Cornell’s
Web site: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/
MS. MACK: One more question and then we will wrap
MR. VITKUS: This is Phil Vitkus. And I was just
wondering – in terms of intermediaries. At this point, how
would you characterize an intermediary that is going to facilitate
in continuation of resource mapping? What are some of the best characteristics
of the best intermediaries? Kelli, you and I have talked about this
some, but I was wondering what just generally what your opinion
on that is? And I’ll be quiet.
MS. CRANE: The best characteristics of an intermediary
– I think it needs to be a credible organization that reaches
far and wide in a community and knows the community resources. The
organization must be able to hold the group together when it needs
to be pulled together. In the state of Kentucky, they’ve done
a good job of that.
But as well it needs to be a knowledgeable organization around
research practices for youth with disabilities. Again, looking at
improving the outcomes of youth with disabilities. So they need
to have, I believe some good content knowledge and need to be able
to organize and to put this map together. Dedicated staff, as the
research mapping process does take time. Therefore, you will need
a person who can continue to follow this along and keep it moving
so. Some -- staff is also important.
MS. WILLS: Can I just pick up and make a quick
comment about that. Because one of the things, – and I think
Rhonda would agree with me – is we need to be careful how
we use the term intermediary. What Kelli just talked about is really
what I think of as the trusted neutral agent person, or organization.
When ODEP created these demonstrations, they are using the term
intermediary in a different way – just to point that out.
It is an organization that provides or brokers services to the one
or both of the two ultimate customers, youth and/or employers. So
we are using the term intermediary with slightly different definitions
MR. VITKUS: Thank you very much.
MS. MACK: All right. I would like to thank you
all for participating in this call. And there will be a transcript
of this call on the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Web site in the near future. And everybody have a Happy Holiday
Season. Thank you.
END OF TELECONFERENCE
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