By ANDREW LEE
The School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ Employment and Disability Institute announced last week that it received a $32.5-million grant to help improve the quality of life for teenagers with disabilities.
The efforts are part of a national initiative called “Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income,” or PROMISE.
The NYS PROMISE research team aims to improve services for about 2,000 teenagers, ages 14 through 16, who receive Supplemental Security Income, a federal program that provides money to people with disabilities, according to a University press release.
According to Thomas Golden, the grant’s co-principal investigator and associate director of the Employment and Disability Institute, the program has the potential to improve the lives of youth.
“The NYS PROMISE is built using an indigenous approach — based on an assumption that, given the right combination of local services and resources, youth who receive [Supplemental Security Income] and their families can increase their economic, employment and educational outlook,” Golden said.
As a part of the study, 1,000 teenagers will be randomly selected to receive PROMISE services and 1,000 will receive services typically provided by school programs, the press release stated.
Arun Karpur, co-principal investigator and Research Faculty in the Employment and Disability Institute, added in an e-mail, “It is important to recognize that the NYS PROMISE will be targeting services to one of the most underserved, and in some instances, to groups of young people who have relatively higher and complex service needs.”
Golden said Cornell was successful in supporting the NYS application because of its recent experience working with the Office of Mental Health on a five-year Medicaid Infrastructure Grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities. He added that the Employment and Disability Institute’s work on the Model Transition Program sponsored by the NYS Education Department, also played an important role in securing the grant.
Golden said the grant would be used for several purposes, including funding facilities. “Approximately one-half of the grant will be used to directly support coordination and implementation of services within the research demonstration sites,” Golden said in an e-mail.
“Another quarter of the grant will go toward state operations and building state capacity.” Golden said the final quarter of the grant “will be used to conduct the research, evaluate impact, and build the internal capacities of the research demonstration sites, and their local partners, to implement the intervention with fidelity.”
Karpur said that the institute will work closely with the New York State Office of Mental Health to identify and engage about 20 local education agencies in western New York, the capital region, and New York City to serve as research demonstration sites.
“We aim at accomplishing this over the two year period beginning February 2014,” Karpur said in an e-mail.
The Employment and Disability Institute will create the technical infrastructure for the program so it can track data and conduct evaluations over the course of the program, to look at “outcomes, impact and overall fidelity,” Golden said.
The institute will also work with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, which will oversee all financial transactions across project partners.
The grant was initiated on Oct. 1 and will continue for five years according to Golden. The U.S. Department of Education will be conducting an impact assessment and long-term study through the policy research organization Mathematica Policy Research that will continue beyond the initial five years.