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A pilot study connecting youth with emotional or behavioral difficulties to summer work experiences. (Carter et al. 2011)

Citation

Carter, E.W., Trainor, A.A., Ditchman, N., & Owens, L. (2011). A pilot study connecting youth with emotional or behavioral difficulties to summer work experiences. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 34(2), 95-106. doi:10.1177/0885728810395745

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of providing summer employment support on the employment of youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties.
  • The authors used a randomized controlled trial to assign eligible youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties (63 in total) to either the treatment group, which received additional support finding and retaining summer employment, or the control group, which did not receive any additional support. The authors used data from telephone interviews with youth or parents to measure outcomes.
  • The study found that, compared with youth randomly assigned to the control group, youth offered support finding and retaining summer employment were 27 percentage points more likely to be employed at the end of the summer.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because attrition was high and the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to summer employment support; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

A Package of Employment Services for Youth

Features of the Intervention

The intervention included (1) community conversations to identify local needs, partners, and resources for youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties; (2) resource mapping to help connect these youth to existing services; (3) summer planning to help youth identify their goals for summer employment and how to achieve those goals; (4) designated adult community connectors who attended events with local employers, helped youth with their summer planning, and collaborated with families, school employees, and employers to support youth in meeting their goals; and (5) employer liaisons identified to connect youth and community connectors with local employers.

Features of the Study

The authors used a randomized controlled trial to assign eligible youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties (63 in total) to either the treatment group, which received additional support finding and retaining summer employment, or the control group, which did not receive any additional support. The authors conducted the study in seven unnamed high schools selected for the economic and geographic diversity of the communities they serve. The authors used data from telephone interviews with youth or parents to measure employment at the beginning and end of the summer and employment at any time during the summer. The authors directly compared the groups’ average outcomes among the 57 youth for whom outcome information was available.

Findings

  • Employment. The study found that, among youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties, those offered support in finding and retaining summer employment were 27 percentage points more likely to be employed at the end of the summer compared to those assigned to the control group. This finding was statistically significant.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Although the authors used a randomized controlled trial, the low survey response rates overall and between groups when outcome data were collected suggest that the findings might be driven by differences in the participants who provided outcome data and not only by the program being studied. Moreover, the authors did not ensure that the groups whose outcome data were being compared were similar before the intervention.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because attrition was high and the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to summer employment support; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

April 2017