Research Briefs

Community-Based Employment Programs for Transition Youth with Disabilities

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Transition youth with disabilities continue facing barriers in meeting their transition needs due to long existing service and system problems. Moreover, youth with disabilities experience lower school completion rates, lower adult employment participation, higher dependence on public income support, and higher incidence of poverty. Identification of effective community-based employment programs for transition youth with disabilities can help inform future transition service development and evaluation.

Key Findings:

  • Five effective community-based employment interventions were identified, one being the adapted individualized placement and support (IPS) model.
  • Provision of community-based mentorship was effective in supporting youth with disabilities in accomplishing post-secondary education, employment, and community reintegration goals.
  • Behavioral skills training demonstrated to improve interview skills of youth with autism.
  • Peer-meditated interventions enhanced independent vocational tasks and social interactions among youth with autism.
  • Summer employment on community experience program revealed summer employment is valuable for youth with severe disabilities.
  • Interagency collaboration between schools and vocational rehabilitation was one of the factors associated with transition service outcomes.


  • Further research-based innovations that connect local, state, and federal agencies together in the development of transition programs.
  • Services embedded in ecological models are desired to support youth with diverse transition needs.
  • Planning for transition program for youth experiencing multiple adversities should take into consideration youth’s complex backgrounds.

More About The Research:

  • Findings are based on 15 studies collected from a scoping review with a criterion that involved gathering studies from 8 databases and a three phase reviewal to ensure studies were related to disability, youth, and community services.

Additional information on this topic can be found at

Recommended readings:

Riesen, T., Schultz, J., Morgan, R., & Kupferman, S. (2014). School-to-work barriers as identified by special educators, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and community rehabilitation professionals. Journal of Rehabilitation, 80(1), 33.

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