The Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD), led by Mathematica Policy Research, MDRC, and TransCen, Inc., is a large-scale demonstration and evaluation sponsored by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to improve understanding of how to help youth with disabilities reach their full economic potential. In particular, SSA is interested in developing and testing promising approaches for helping young people with disabilities become more self-sufficient and less reliant on disability benefits. The YTD conceptual framework, which is based on best practices in facilitating youth transition, specifies that the six projects participating in the evaluation provide employment services (emphasizing paid competitive employment), benefits counseling, links to services available in the community, and other assistance to youth with disabilities and their families. Additionally, participating youth are eligible for SSA waivers of certain benefit program rules, which allow them to retain more of their disability benefits and health insurance while they work for pay. Using a rigorous random assignment methodology, the YTD evaluation team is assessing whether these services and incentives are effective in helping youth with disabilities achieve greater independence and economic self-sufficiency. The earliest of the evaluation projects began operations in 2006 and ended in 2009. The latest started in 2008 and will end in 2012.
This report presents first-year evaluation findings for the City University of New York (CUNY) Youth Transition Demonstration Project (YTDP), which served youth ages 14 through 19 in Bronx County, New York, from August 2006 to May 2010. While it will take several more years to fully observe the transitions that youth participants make to adult life, early data from the evaluation provide rich information on how the YTDP operated and the differences it made in key outcomes for youth. Specifically, the report includes findings from a process analysis of the YTDP, including a description of the program model, how the project was implemented and services were delivered, and the project’s fidelity to the YTD model. The report also includes impact findings, based on data collected 12 months after youth entered the evaluation, on the use of services, paid employment, participation in education, income from earnings and benefits, and attitudes and expectations.
In brief, the YTDP was well implemented and had statistically significant impacts on several important outcomes during the year following random assignment. The project as implemented closely conformed to the local design for the intervention and included all major components of the YTD program model. The process analysis found that the project enrolled 79 percent of eligible youth and provided all enrollees with at least some services, many of which were delivered through Saturday morning workshops. Approximately half of the enrollees had paid summer work experiences through the project. The impact analysis found that youth who had been given the opportunity to participate in the YTDP were more likely to have used services to promote employment and been employed for pay than in the absence of the intervention. However, the project had no impacts on income, expectations, or a composite measure of school enrollment or high school completion.