Third Thursday - Employment First and the 8 Predictors of Transition Planning Success

Video Transcript

Hello, I'm Donna Owens, and I want to welcome you to Third Thursday, an information and training event presented by the OCALI Family Center. On the third Thursday of each month, we will offer an hour of information and training on topics of interest to families of children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. All Third Thursday sessions will be recorded and archived. And so if you see something that you think would be of benefit to someone that you know, please refer them to the OCALI Family Center web page. All handouts for each session will also be available for download on our web page.

Last month, we heard from Sue Beck, who discussed several transition planning tools and how they can identify and guide effective outcome-focused instruction and activities, activities that will support your child's everyday living and working in the community after their graduation from high school. This month, will hear from Chris Filler, program director for the OCALI Lifespan Transition Center and a transition consultant with Ohio's Employment First initiative.

The Employment First initiative is Ohio's statewide system's change activities that promote community-based employment options for all individuals with developmental disabilities. Chris will give us an overview of Employment First, its grounding in federal law, and the areas of activity across several agencies. She will also review the three planning foundations for Employment First, which are that planning is person-centered, agency-neutral, and outcome-focused. To support the effective transition outcomes of individuals with disabilities, Chris is also going to review the research that identifies eight predictors to successful transition outcomes. Thank you, Chris.

Thanks, Donna. I really appreciate you asking me to do this and giving us time to look at this, because I think this is a really important topic. So we're going to get started today, and I'm going to first give you a little bit of an overview of what we're going to discuss. Employment First, what it represents and what it does not represent is one of the first things we're going to go over.

We're going to look at what we call the national drivers of Employment First, just to give you a better sense of where all this came from. Look at a few activities, look at the scope and structure of the Employment First transition framework. And then we're going to spend more time looking at what is it that we can do in school to improve the outcomes for youth as adults?

So this is a lot of information. We're going to go through it quickly, and I'll give you some references and resources so that you can follow up with this as you want.

The first thing I'm going to talk about, though, is why employment? Why is it important? Why are we even concerned about employment?

And you know what? It's more than just a paycheck. What we find is that people that are employed have so much more value in their life. Their life is improved, their ability to do things, of course, their ability to buy things they want, their social connections, their self-esteem-- all of this and more is what we see when people are employed.

And that includes people with disabilities, as well. So we need to put a lot of emphasis on giving youth the opportunity to truly be employed as they move into adulthood. And that is what Employment First is really focused on.

In Ohio, we sort of began Employment First. It started on March 19, 2012. That is when Governor Kasich signed the executive order making Ohio an Employment First state. He set the vision that community employment really is the vision for all people. And this is what the executive order said. "Community employment is the first and preferred option for all people with developmental disabilities."

And what you then ask, or what people generally start to ask, Donna, is so what is community employment? How do you define that? Community employment is defined as employment that is both competitive and integrated. So the next question is what's competitive, and what's integrated?

So I'm going to show you, up here on the slides, you're going to be able to see these two definitions. You can read them, but basically what it says is that the issue of competitive means the wage and the benefits that a person earns. It should be a competitive wage, at least minimum wage, and the customary benefits that you would have in a job. Integrated has to do with where it occurs. So it's the community, with people that are not disabled, and having that opportunity to work with people to the same extent that others would.

So sometimes people think that we're talking about people working 40 hours a week, or people working 20 hours a week. Really isn't about the amount of hours. It's about getting that wage that you deserve and being able to work with others that are not disabled. So that is our basic definition.

What you may be thinking is, OK, Chris, wait a minute. Are you saying now that we are saying everyone is going to be forced to work from now on, that that is going to be our number one direction? Well, it is our direction. But no, Employment First is not about saying everyone must work. It's really about giving people meaningful opportunity to be able to learn the skills, to be able to have the experiences, to be able to be in the community, so that they can pursue employment that works for them. It's about giving opportunity. And that's what Employment First is really about.

So if you've heard rumors that, oh my goodness, everyone is going to be forced to work, that is really not quite accurate. It means that everyone is really going to be given meaningful opportunities and experiences. And that just changes the conversation. It's really a wonderful thing.

To make all of this happen, what we need to do, though, is to set up a system in Ohio that is going to support people to have that opportunity. And that's where, in Employment First, from the executive order, we saw a systematic and strategic effort start. And that included a state task force.

And you'll see up here on the screen that the task force that Governor Kasich directed was to include the agencies that are listed here, including the Department of Education, the Department of Developmental Disabilities, Opportunities for Ohioan with Disability. Now if that's not a familiar agency, that's our vocational rehabilitation agency. You may have heard it as BVR or BSVI. So that's that agency. Also, our Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is included in the task force, as well as Jobs and Family Services and the Office of Medicaid Services.

So these folks meet, the state-level individuals meet on a monthly basis. And what is very exciting is right now, a lot of their work is focused on how are we going to improve transition? And how are we going to help transition youth, have more opportunities to move into meaningful employment? So this is truly a wonderful piece of the transition framework and a piece of Employment First.

Chris, I have a question. Why where all of these agencies singled out by the governor? I mean, I would think-- I could see vocational rehabilitation, or maybe education. But why Medicaid Services?

Well, you know, that's a good question, Donna. Because there are so many pieces and parts to not only getting people ready for employment, and teaching them the skills that they might need, and giving them the experiences, and that could include a lot of our education system, as well as looking at our VR system. But as somebody moves through and obtains employment, they may continue to need support. And a lot of that support comes from Medicaid dollars. So Medicaid needs to be a part of it.

Some people with developmental disabilities also have mental health challenges. We need our partners in mental health to be there, as well. This affects probably even more agencies than we've listed. But it was very clear that the governor said that what we want to do is to have a strategic effort that's multi-agency, that is looking at reducing duplication-- meaning that each one of these agencies does not need to do the same assessment over and over. It's where can we streamline our efforts, where can we use our dollars more effectively?

More integration.

Right. Right. Does that make sense?

It does. It does, thank you.

OK. So just as a tie-up, the items on the screen right now, on this slide, kind of tell you what the task forces have been doing. Looking at policies and procedures, saying, where can we align them? Where do they go together? Looking for gaps, looking for opportunities.

Common language and definitions is really important. It's interesting that that would show up, but language can get in the way. When we're not talking the same language, when we have terms that we don't understand, when we use the same word to mean different things, it is very confusing, and it takes us down a different path. So common language is important. And then interagency agreements between and among these agencies is something that's being crafted right now.

So this usually, at this point, we think, oh my goodness. So where did all this come from? Why all of this interest right now? Did the state just dream this up?

Well, actually, there are drivers for Employment First that are outside of our state. We look at national drivers. And so let me explain just very briefly what some of these national drivers are.

One of the first drivers has to do with our federal legislation that prohibits the segregation of people with individuals with disabilities in their work, in where they live, in where they learn. We can't say, because you need support, you can only have it in this segregated setting.

And that was the Americans with Disabilities Act, back in 1990. That's 25 years ago. Very important legislation. But then in 1996, there was a Supreme Court decision called the Olmstead Supreme Court decision. And this was a decision that came about from a case in Georgia where there were several women that voluntarily checked themselves into a mental health facility because they needed treatment. And fortunately, they received the treatment they needed, and they improved, and they were ready to leave the facility and to be part of their community again. Probably needing, still, some support, but they were ready to move out.

And unfortunately, what happened was that they were told that they needed to stay in the facility, that that was the only place that they could receive the support that they needed. And they fought that. And it went to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court said, you are right. This is not something that we should be doing. That is a violation of Americans with Disability Act.

And so that is another-- that is another milestone that we look at, and it is another measuring stick that we use to say, are we in compliance with the ADA? Are the programs that we're putting in place, are the way we're educating people, the way we're letting people work, is it in an integrated setting? Are they able to be part of the community and not segregated?

So this is one of the drivers for Employment First. It tells us that we need to think about where people are receiving their services and where they're learning and where they're working. That's a really important driver.

And so these drivers aren't specific to employment, but they're specific to people with disabilities and their ability to be integrated in the community, both in living and in working.

Yes. Yes, Donna, that's exactly right. And there's so much you can talk about with this particular driver. There's a lot of information out there. I think we just wanted to make the point that Employment First didn't just pop up in Ohio. It is something that came from some federal legislation from 1990. I mean, that's 25 years ago.

Right.

But you know, Donna, there's one more driver that I want to point out. And that driver has to do with the funding that we use to help people live and learn and work in the community. And so when we think about the kind of funding that is necessary for some of our people to be able to do that, we often think about the Medicaid dollars.

And so this funding now is prioritizing community living, community working. We need to support people in the community.

And so CMS, which is Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, back in 2011, sent out a little guidance that said, hey, let me tell you, what we really mean is that all of your employment services need to be community-based and moving people into community work.

And then in 2014, we got the final rule. And the final rule said, what we said in 2011, we meant, that this is how we want you to use your dollars. So it's really important that we understand that this activity of Employment First in Ohio is really part of a bigger picture that started years ago and had some federal backing to it.

And it's a really good thing. It's a really good thing. Because we are now moving towards giving people more of those opportunities. And our transitioned youth are going to be a population that benefits greatly from this.

One of the questions that often comes up is, you know, OK, if we need to make these changes, it can't happen overnight. It's not like a light switch, that we can say we're here one day, and there the next. So how long does Ohio have to come into compliance?

What we know is that states have five years to come into compliance. March 17, 2019. And they have up to a year to develop a plan to submit to CMS, to say this is what we're going to do to move our service delivery system from being mostly segregated to mostly integrated.

We did that in Ohio in March of 2015. So we have about four years left to really put this into place. So keep an eye on that. You'll be seeing more activity and information coming out.

And does that mean, then, that all of the current programs or services that we have seen will just shut down? Not necessarily. I don't want you to panic over that. What we will see, though, are these programs are going to be working strategically to say, how can we overhaul or change or transform or expand our current services that might be more segregated, like a segregated day program or a workshop? How can we change those so that they become more integrated. That we have more individualized options, and people can start reaching out and having more access to the community.

So you may see the transformation of programs. Not a loss of service. You're not going to see a loss of service. You're going to see maybe the transformation of a service. However, there are some programs that may decide this transformation is too difficult for us at this time, and we would rather just close and start over.

So Chris, what you're saying is that programs that previously have been totally segregated programs, and the programs have always happened in this one location within these four walls, are going to change to take on more of a community focus for the people that they serve.

Yes.

In order to meet these new Medicaid guidelines. Because these programs have been funded, basically, by Medicaid dollars.

Yes. I couldn't have said it better, Donna.

Oh, well, thank you.

[LAUGHTER]

Yeah, that is exactly what we're looking at. And you know, Donna, there's a lot of misinformation out there. And so we wanted to take a few minutes and really focus on this, that Employment First and these changes are really not about shutting down services and eliminating services. It's about transforming services so that they are more capable of giving people broader opportunities. Still individualized, still have to look at what a person needs, what kind of supports need to be in place, but larger access.

So not to panic. Actually, to get excited about. Because this is truly a systems change.

And that systems change is big. This slide that you see right now is sort of a very simple, and not all-inclusive, example of the kind of activity that has started to occur in Ohio since the governor signed the executive order. So you can see that federal activity at the top down to the executive order, and then all of this activity that is spread out. Anywhere from the task force and aligning policies to the transition framework, which we're going to talk about, and even onto individual agencies doing individual type of changes.

I want to, though, give you just a few highlights of Employment First. And you can see up here, on this slide, a little schematic of a number of activities that are occurring. I'm going to just go over, real briefly, a few of those. That would be the Employment First website-- that's a big one. I want you to really think about exploring that. That's one that we're going to look at. Something called DB 101, family and job seeker supports, and then, finally, the transition framework.

So let me show you the little-- let me show you the website. The website address is ohioemploymentfirst.org. And this would be what you would see when you went on that website. It truly is the hub. The intention is to put as much information, training, resources, links to the variety of activity that's going on in the state around Employment First, from this site. So sort of bookmark this site, so that you can go there periodically and look at what's going on.

One of the things that will be coming to the website soon that you want to bookmark and look at are the family and job seeker supports. And there has been a lot of effort into doing training and to being able to put in place information on the website that specifically targets families and job seekers. So you'll see here on the slide that there are web-based tools that are coming. There's going to be and have been leadership classes for individuals to be able to move through some sessions, so that they can guide themselves and others through this Employment First community employment transformation. Train the trainer sessions and mentorship programs are available.

And then coming to the website are going to be, also, this DB 101, which is a web-based tool kit that has a number of calculators to help people figure out, if I go to work, how may that affect my benefits? My Social Security, my Medicaid. Will it be affected? Could it be affected? Should I be concerned? What should I do about it?

So there are a number of calculators out there on the web. This one is specifically designed for Ohio. It will have also some information, interesting links to go along with that.

This will not replace a specific benefits analysis. Some people may need a lot more individual look at the impact of employment. They will need to work with a benefits analyst.

But what this can do is get you started. It can give you an idea. It can help you gather the information. And one of the calculators that will be available is the school-to-work calculator. So I think this could be another area to look at.

So what we've gone over are a number of things that are on the website. There is more. And in fact, there is so much more activity going on in Employment First that we could not possibly cover it today and get through everything we want to get through. So I do want to point you back to ohioemploymentfirst.org, because that's the place to go to kind of keep updated as you go along.

What I do want you to realize is that all of this work, everything that we're doing in Employment First, is really to put people on the path to employment. And what I mean by that is that there is one path to employment, but there are a number of places.

And you can see that Place 4 includes people that are really not even ready to work. They don't even maybe know what work is about. And we need to still work with those folks to find out, is there a way that we can support you to find meaningful employment, to understand employment?

Place 3 helps you get a little closer. Place 2 means that I'm ready. I want to work. I need help finding the job, but I'm ready. And then Place 1 is for people that are currently working, but they want a better job. They want to move up. They want to expand their work.

So all of this is about moving into meaningful employment. And our youth are also on the path to employment. And that's what our transition framework really looks at.

So I want to spend a few minutes telling you about the transition framework and what this means and how it was developed as we move forward into talking, then, about what is it that we can do? What are some ideas about what we can do right now to help our youth be ready?

So the purpose of the transition framework, as this says, is to assist youth to be able to achieve community employment. And when we got started with this, we had to look at what is happening currently in order to know what we need to do to change the issues that youth might be facing, and be able to move forward.

So the first thing we did was we did what everybody does. We admired the barriers. We admired the problem. And you'll see here that we've talked to many stakeholders. We talked to families, we talked to teachers, we talked to adult service providers. We talked to a lot of folks, and they told us what they thought were barriers to youth moving to community employment.

And you can see that they run the gamut here, anywhere from people just not believing that youth can work in the community, or that they should, to agencies just not aligning in their policies and procedures. And in fact, it's so complex that people just don't even want to try to navigate the agencies. We also hear from employers and from others that we have youth that are leaving school, and they're not prepared. They don't have the skills to be an employee. And so that is definitely a barrier.

We also found that a lot of our service providers and teachers actually may not be getting the skills they need to be able to support youth to move along. And when they move along, we also found that some youth don't have the ongoing support that they need to be successful. Many youth do not have opportunities for experiential learning, meaning that they never get out and actually work in the community, or have an opportunity to be in the community. And so that is definitely a barrier.

You know, there is a lot of information out there. We found that, that it's not maybe a lack of information. It's just not put in one comprehensive manner, a way that people can understand. It's hard to put that information together. So it's scattered, and people have difficulty navigating.

And then finally, the last barrier that came up quite often is that there is a perceived risk of employment. People are concerned about losing benefits. People are concerned about safety issues.

Some of this came from a time where that probably was a reality. Now we are putting in place a lot of possibilities, supports, and ways to navigate around some of those concerns, so that employment is not a risk. So we need to help people understand that. Because you have to feel comfortable. You have to feel comfortable moving forward.

So what we decided, and what we looked at, was the fact that if these are the barriers, if that's what we're facing, this transition framework needs to address these barriers. And then we need to address some of the issues that you see here.

Agency processes-- we need something that's more of a single process, single documents. Resources-- they need to be available. And they need to be available about a broad number of things. And they need to be agency-neutral. I'm going to talk to you about that point in a second. Regional supports as well as state-level guidance. So all of these are areas that the transition framework needed to address.

Now what you will see here, if you are a visual person, that you may want to look at this from the sense of sort of a schematic. And so if you understand this better by looking at a schematic, this overview of the transition framework might help you understand sort of these levels of work that is going on.

There's state-level activity, which we've talked about with the task force and agencies. The policies and procedures have to be focused on. There's regional or county-based work, where we're trying to pull our multi-agency stakeholders together to talk about, do we have capacity? Do we have resources in our county that individual teams can access?

And then there is that individual teamwork. And so the framework includes processes for transition assessment, transition planning. And then there's evidence-based practices and protectors. So this is sort of a very high-level schematic. The scope of this work is very broad, very broad.

It was a systems change effort, that all of those agencies-- I can see that when I see the depth of the planning and the activities.

Yes, and I'm glad you brought that up again, Donna, that it is a systems change. And when you have a systems change, you have to address it on multiple levels. Because each one of these levels has a role in making sure that we are making the changes that are necessary. It is complex, and it does not happen overnight. But if we continue to follow this path, we will see changes.

We see small changes already with some of the youth we've been working with. There are some that come to my mind that in just a very short period of time, by following some of these processes, they went from having really no real outcomes as an adult, no real path, and in a very short period of time, bringing the players together, that was-- that changed. We were able to define it, find activities that really made a difference for that person, put the pieces in place.

And so we get excited, because we know it can work. We do have to keep working at it, though. And one way that we keep working at it is making sure that we follow these non-negotiable foundational elements that everyone needs to be aware of and to understand.

The first one is being agency-neutral. And that means that as we come together to plan for a youth at transition time, we cannot plan on an education platform. It can't just be about the IEP. It can't just be about our vocational rehabilitation agencies' work. It can't just be about looking at what we call an ISP, or that's the developmental disability agency. Or any other agency. It has to be neutral. It has to really be about the person.

And person-centered is that second element. If we stay person-centered, if we think about the person and what that person needs, and not try to think about what that's going to mean in terms of what papers I need to fill out, or can this agency do that? Or, am I allowed to do that? If we keep person-centered in our planning, it keeps us agency-neutral. It puts us on that path.

And the other element is being outcome-focused. And that means that we look at not getting to the end of the school year-- or even getting to graduation. That is really-- that's a major milestone. But it's not the outcome.

The outcome is a quality adult life, that the person is able to work the way they want to work and be part of their community. And so if we make the target that we're going for adult life, we're going to be aligning services and supports and education towards that goal. And so outcome-focused is really important.

So the state-level activity we've talked about already, a lot of that Employment First task force work, the sort of county regional-level work has to do with counties coming together, looking at assessing where they are and where they need to go. And putting together a plan where they have steps, meaningful steps, to improve services and improve information in that area.

And then the final prong, we call it, is that individual prong, where we look at how do we help with transition assessment and transition planning, evidence-based practices and predictors-- which is what we're going to talk about here in a second-- and additional tools and resources. All of these that fit into this prong are available on the Employment First website.

But you also have an archived webinar-- it's a Third Thursday webinar-- that went over many of these tools. And so my colleague Sue Beck recorded that and it was archived, and it's available. So I encourage you to go to that website and take a look at that particular webinar, because it gives you more information about those tools at that prong of the website.

So let's, then, talk a little bit about what is it that we can do for youth while they're in school that can improve the outcomes after they leave school? And those outcomes that we're talking about are what about meaningful employment? Community participation and living? And engagement in things like education and training-- how can we assure that we are moving in that direction? What can we do while they're in school that will improve those outcomes?

That's what we call evidence-based predictors of adult success. And this is a tool that is on both the OCALI website and the Employment First website that reviews these predictors. These predictors came from actually research that was done at the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center. Long name, but they have done some fabulous work.

And what they did was took a lot of the research. And they pulled out, actually, 17 predictors that indicated activities, connections, services, supports, courses of study, that helped a youth be more successful as they exited into adult life.

We looked at those 17 predictors. And we asked ourself, could we actually categorize them so that they are a little more manageable to look at and to use? And so we were able to put them into eight predictor areas. We also went back to NSTTAC and asked them, after we did this work, does this make sense? Does this include all 17? Is this still work that we can say is appropriate? And they reviewed it, and they said absolutely.

So the eight predictor areas-- and we're going to talk about each one just very briefly. The eight predictor areas are collaborative networks of student support, individualized career development, authentic community-based work experiences, social and social-emotional instruction and skills, academic, vocational, occupational education and preparation. We also talk about supporting parental involvement and parental expectations, as well as thinking about self-determination and independent living. And again, here, that one is going to reflect instruction as well as skill-building. And finally, inclusive practices and programs. So these are the eight predictor areas that include all 17 of the predictors that NSTTAC had identified.

Let me show you how the tool is laid out, so that you get a handle on what it looks like. And then when you go and download this tool, which you can do, you'll be more familiar with it. Each predictor has two pages. On the top of each page, you're going to see a brief overview and a description. You're also going to see a little bit about the evidence that came from the research.

And then you're going to see a little bit about the implications for practice. And what that means is we went to people that actually do this work and said, OK, so this is what the research says. So what? What does that mean, in terms of how you should practice? And they gave us feedback, and we captured that.

So just so you can see this a little bit more clearly, we're going to look at each one, each area. Let's start with the overview and description. This one is the Predictor 1, which is the collaborative networks of student support. And so you can see that it talks about, in the description, that it's both formal and informal support. And it gives you a little more information about what this might mean and how you might understand what a network is.

From that, you go down and you look at, OK, what does the research say? And you'll see here, the findings tell you that the more agencies that are involved, the better the outcomes. So they compared those that had zero to two agencies to those that had three to six agencies involved.

But also, the research looked at informal networks and found that informal networks were also very effective. And mentoring was also effective. So this is what the research told us.

And then when we asked our colleagues about, what does it mean? These are some implications they brought to us. Of course, one of the obvious ones is that you want to get your agencies around the table, sooner than later, to be partners, to talk about what might this mean, in terms of their involvement for this youth?

It also means that maybe we should start looking at more mentoring programs in our high schools. How could we capitalize on that? So these are some of the implications to practice that we saw for this particular predictor.

So now you're familiar with what the form looks like. You're familiar with how each section is laid out. So let's just take a brief look at the other predictors. These are the eight predictor areas, again, and we're going to go through each one.

The first one is the one we just looked at, the collaborative networks of student support. Now remember, it said both formal and informal were important. Agencies and community members.

And one of the things that this really helps to think about is the fact that social capital, it can be built from this, and everyone needs social capital. Social capital are those connections and people we know and relationships that we have personally, in our community, that we can go back and build on. And transitioned youth, especially transitioned youth with disabilities, oftentimes don't have a lot of social capital. So we can help build that social capital through these collaborative networks.

Individualized career development. Now, look at that word development, because that's important. You don't just graduate and all of a sudden, you start work. You go through a course where you have steps and experiences and services. You try out work. You have a first job, and you learn that you love it or hate it, but you learn something. You learn how to interact with your boss. This is all part of this development, career development.

And youth, oftentimes, with disabilities have not had really meaty career development. So those that do have better outcomes. And the more we individualize it, the more that it's part of what that youth profile tells us that they need, the better. So individualized career development. We have some very good career tech programs in the state of Ohio, and they have a lot to offer. When we can individualize those programs a bit we see better outcomes.

Now, here's one that we need to pay attention to, because this is one of the strongest predictors-- authentic community-based work experience. It's not rocket science, believe me. We know that if you have more experience in real work-- best is paid work, but even real volunteer work-- you have a better chance of having a job when you graduate. Makes sense, right?

But the research actually went, measured, and supported it. What that means is that we need to highlight this. We need to make this an important piece of our youth's skill development.

And it's not just about school hours. And it can be after-school hours and summer jobs. It's not just about school.

The social and social-emotional instruction and skills-- I don't think I need to convince you that the social aspect of a person's life is important in many areas of their life. Work, and of course their socializing, and any other aspect, you're going to need those social skills. What this really highlights is the fact that in school, this needs to be intentionally taught.

It's not something where we say, well, you know what? When we pass through the hall and we see people, we'll take advantage of those times, and when we get a chance, we'll get them to greet each other, and that type of thing. That's not intentional enough. You can use curriculum, and oftentimes curriculum does help guide you. But you need the authentic settings and that intentional instruction in order to master. So social and social-emotional instruction.

Self-determination, independent living, instruction, and skill-building is again one of those areas where we need intentionality. It needs to be intentionally taught, intentionally planned. And independence is a key here. We see a lot of people exiting high school still having very little independence. It doesn't mean you have to be totally independent or not need any support. But we want to highlight the importance of teaching people to use supports that will allow them to be independent and to have independent skills. Again, authentic situations, instructed, practiced, and intentional.

The next one has to do with inclusive programs and practices. And what this means is that we need to give people opportunities to live and learn and work in general education environments and in the community. And especially in sort of our general education settings, what we found were that youth with disabilities that participated in general education courses of study, in general education classes, they had better outcomes in terms of not only academic success but employment success.

What we saw is that people get exposed to concepts and information that maybe they would not run across any other way. Doesn't mean that you learn everything that everyone else is learning. I don't think any of us actually do that.

But it does give you exposure. You learn about chemistry. You may not have memorized the periodic table. I know I haven't. But you might realize the importance of what oxygen is in your life.

And you may realize that, gee, when I put the ice tray in the freezer and I open the freezer, and the ice tray still has water in it, it means that it's not cold enough in the freezer. That's chemistry. That's something that we can apply to real life. And so we want people to be exposed to it. It doesn't replace individual efforts, but it is an important concept.

The last two have to do with academic, vocational, and occupational preparation. And what you'll see here is that we do want a well-balanced preparation. We want high expectations. We want people that have high academic ability to also have vocational opportunity to learn. We also know that people that maybe have more of a vocational course of study need to have some basic academics, that that well-balanced course of study is important.

And then the final one that you see up here has to do with supporting parental involvement and parental expectation. And that's you. You know, we can get teachers, we can swap out teachers. We do. We can swap out principals. We can swap out vocational rehab counselors in a student's team. But the family can't be swapped out.

You are the irreplaceable piece of this team. You are the one ongoing piece of this team. And now research tells us that when you are involved, when you have high expectations for your sons and daughters, it makes a difference. It improves those outcomes.

Now, the thing that I don't want you to think is that I'm saying it's all on your shoulders, it's up to you. Because that's not the case. You need a team, and you need the team to be able to help you make some decisions and help you move forward. But no one can replace the family.

And so if there are any educators out there watching this, or other team members, it's really important to figure out how to engage that family that truly is overburdened, that is having trouble being a part of this planning. It's up to us to reach out and try to embrace them and pull them in. So really important predictor here.

So I'm going to wrap up with talking to you about the review and planning tool. And there we go. It's jumping. It is jumping around here on you, just to keep you on your toes. Keep me on my toes.

Now this tool, this review and planning tool, is this so that parents and families could look at the transition planning that's going on for their son or daughter now, and would help them, kind of one by one, to determine the extent to which these eight predictors are present in their current planning process?

Yes.

OK.

How's that? Yes, Donna. It is. And actually, this is in the back of the predictor tool. It's just one tool. It's one tool.

OK, gotcha.

You'll find this in the back of the tool. And just as Donna said, it is a tool to help you, and to help classroom teachers and districts, kind of look back and say, do we see evidence that we're doing this, that we're having these predictors displayed in our programs? Does my son or daughter's IEP and transition planning show that we are paying attention to these predictors?

So let me show you how it's laid out. And this is just one of the pages. And you will see here that on the right-hand side, if you're looking at one predictor-- like, say the social-emotional predictor-- and you don't even have enough information to know, there's just not any evidence, one way or the other, whether that's included, you kind of just say, there's no rating. I've got to go get some more information.

But you might look at it and say, you know what? I see maybe a little bit of evidence that we're addressing this, but almost nothing. That would be a rating of 1. And as you move along from the right to the left, you'll see that it allows you to select ratings that say, I see more evidence. I see that we're doing some things. I see that there are some opportunities. It's just not enough.

And then finally, on the far left-hand side, that's the rating for-- we really have it. We've got it. It's individualized. It's going. It's smooth. And almost no one feels like there's no room for improvement, but there are people that are doing a really nice job. So this tool is there to help you think about the predictors, in terms of either a particular classroom, a district, or your own child.

So I do want to sum this up by saying that Employment First is really about a presumption of competence. What we mean by that is that we need to presume that people are more capable than we have perhaps in the past, that they are capable of achieving, and achieving community employment, and being part of our community. That we need to presume competence, so that people become workers in our offices, they become our community members. They participate fully, as much as they can and want to participate.

And that will not happen unless we start by presuming that it will happen. We have to believe that it will happen. That's the first step. And after that, we start layering in these predictors in a number of the other areas. So Employment First is about presuming competence, presuming high expectations.

Thank you for spending this time with us. I know that we spent a bit of time giving you a lot of information. It's important work, and we believe that it will result in better outcomes for our youth.

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Third Thursday: Employment First and the 8 Predictors of Transition Planning Success
May 21, 2015 - 6:30 - 7:30pm

Our presenter, Chris Filler, OCALI’s Employment First Transition point person, will give an overview of Ohio’s Employment First Initiative and the range of activities involved in its implementation. She will talk about the federal and state policies that support efforts toward community integration for people with disabilities, including employment. She will identify and discuss the evidence-based practices that promote a transition outcome of integrated community employment - The 8 Keys to Effective Transition to help parents influence the transition planning process.

Third Thursday: Employment First and 8 Predictors of Sucess (PDF)
Evidence Based Predictors for Post-School Success (PDF)