[nfbmi-talk] Data and comment to MRC about youth transition cases and unemployment

Lydia Anne Schuck lydia.a.schuck at wmich.edu
Wed May 13 15:08:38 UTC 2015

Hey friends,  
This document pasted below is a bit rough, but I would like some help making the public comment on these RSA 911 data.  Can you read what I have written and send me some constructive comments?  Please don't bash me.  I am trying to read the data objectively, not to make comparisons between agencies.  I just want to get more data about transition to the MRC board, or whatever they are called.  The MRC will only get the table, not my written comments.


Fiscal Year 2013 Case Closures for Transition Age Youth, Ages 14-24
				Average Time Served	
	Total closed	Comp. Employed	Not Employed	Comp. Employed	Not Employed	Closed after eligibility
BSBP	87	34.48%  (30)	64.37% (57)	90.5 months	83.5 months	0
MRS	4773	42.57% (2032)	57.41% (2740)	27   months	25.8 months	1156

Some observations from this data:
The average time served indicates that BSBP reaches out to youth at a much younger age than does MRS (i.e., 7.5 years vs. 2.25 years).  BSBP opens a case when a transition age youth attends a BSBP program.  The provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act require greater outreach to transition age youth. MRS should be aware of the factors leading to a much lower length of time of service.
There may be many more opportunities for youth who would work with the general agency to participate in activities in the community.  Blind youth may be more motivated to attend events sponsored by BSBP, in comparison to MRS clients attending MRS events, because they meet their peers at these events.  However, the general agency needs to increase attention to transition age youth, regardless of what else is available.  
Note that approximately one quarter of MRC cases are closed after eligibility has been determined, but before the IPE is written.  This may reflect a difference in approach to service provision.  I have heard from VR folks in other states that a customer who is still in high school may open a case as soon as his name comes to the top of the waiting list.  The client may or may not establish eligibility, then close the case, waiting for high school graduation or some other time.  The client will not have to be in the waiting list after high school.  The BSBP apparently leaves cases open throughout high school.   Because the BSBP offers a number of programs for transition age youth, it may just be more convenient to keep a case open all the time. 
Each opening of a customer’s case is counted as a single case.  1156 MRS customers closed cases after eligibility was determined.  These may then appear as duplicates in subsequent data, skewing the statistics.  It may be better to keep the cases open, and just record what is being provided.  Again this will be affected by the WIOA regulations.
However, VR counselors are measured in part by their rate of speed of closure, so BSBP may seem deficient in having cases open for so long.  This may be different under the WIOA regulations when they are released.  If counselors are to spend more time (and money) on their transition age customers, cases will remain open longer.  A new metric should be devised to give agencies more accurate feedback about the accomplishments of VR counselors, rather than or in addition to the speed of case closure.  
Finally, and most importantly, regardless of the length of time of services, 64% for BSBP and 57% for MRS clients is an unacceptable level of cases being closed with the customer not employed competitively.  The length of time that BSBP cases are open indicates that opening and closing of cases is not a practice among blind youth and their families.  The 64% probably does not reflect a significant number of cases, so this statistic is likely to reflect the reality of unemployment among blind youth in Michigan. However, in the case of MRC, a customer's case is open for a shorter time, and is possibly reopened one or more times while the customer is transition age.  The actual unemployment rate at closure may be less than 57% among MRC customers.

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