PROMISE program delivers to students with disabilities

After participating in PROMISE, Capri is applying to college and planning a career.
student and her case manager smiling Caption: Student, Capri, with Case Manager, Mia
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They helped me get the job that I have now; with my references, how to interview, and how to be professional in the workplace.”

Capri, a 17-year-old Niagara Falls High School student, is balancing the demands of school, work, and applying for college. She credits New York State PROMISE (Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income), a research study that is partially administered by the Yang-Tan Institute (YTI), for helping her reach a successful career track as she transitions to adulthood.

There are six PROMISE projects across the United States. Each project was required to provide a set of core services that included case management, parent training, and benefits and work incentive planning and assistance, as well as financial literacy training, at least one paid employment experience earning competitive wages, and additional related supports and services. PROMISE was spearheaded by the federal government. The United States Education Department and the Social Security Administration are two of the largest agencies intricately involved with it.

“PROMISE is looking at what kinds of interventions can be put into place for youth who are receiving Supplemental Security Income to help them to successfully transition into adulthood and the world of work,” said Thomas Golden, former executive director of YTI.

student with service provider and case manager Caption: Student, Prince, with Service Provider, Cesar, and case manager, Learie

About 2,000 youth were enrolled in NYS PROMISE. Half received the intervention services, and half did not, but were able to access all services and supports they were entitled to. Capri received the intervention services.

Capri currently works at a Nautica outlet store. She has also had a paid work experience at Memorial Medical Center, a hospital in Niagara Falls. This experience supported her interest in the medical field, and she plans to pursue a medical career. “They helped me get the job that I have now and helped me a lot with my references and the steps to do an interview and how to be professional in the workplace,” said Capri.

“Typically, youth with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income stay on it for many years, if not their entire lifetimes. Often these youth have family members who are on the public benefit as well,” said Andrew Karhan, program director of workforce development at YTI and former director of NYS PROMISE at the New York State Office of Mental Health. “The government has needed to look at this issue as the system can’t sustain the number of individuals who are receiving SSI.”

Preliminary findings from NYS PROMISE indicate that the current system of supports for youth on SSI needs to provide more services targeted to families as a whole.

Additionally, PROMISE affirmed that providing employment services to youth can lead to better outcomes. There are several statistically significant differences between the group that received intervention services and the one that did not. For instance, 44% of students receiving extra services through PROMISE have paid employment versus only 5% of the students in the control group.

student and a service provider Caption: Student, Shariful, with case manager, Learie

Some of the employment services provided to study participants like Capri included assistance with writing resumes, interviewing, and connecting with employers, as well as discussing appropriate behavior in the workplace.

Another preliminary finding is that students receiving additional services graduate from high school at a higher rate, and more of them move on to postsecondary educational opportunities.

Capri’s PROMISE case manager, Mia Crumpton, said, “She is going to go to college. I’ve been assisting her with some scholarships and really encouraging her to make sure she’s applying for financial aid at all the colleges she’s interested in.”

PROMISE was the largest grant that Cornell University’s ILR School had ever received. It has furthered YTI’s research and training on a national stage in the field of youth transition.

The NYS PROMISE research study wrapped up providing services to families in August, 2019. YTI researchers are now combing through large sets of data to provide evaluations. Full results are expected to be released in 2020 and have the potential to influence and guide public policy at state and national levels.

Learn more about NYS PROMISE