The National Institutes of Health, in collaboration with Boston University, developed a new tool for assessing individual functional ability with funding from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The tool, called the Work Disability–Functional Assessment Battery (WD-FAB), uses item response theory and computer adaptive testing to quickly interview people and systematically map physical and mental health functioning.
In this paper, we provide background on the WD-FAB and explore two ways it could improve the delivery of services to people with disabilities. First, the instrument could provide SSA with a more complete understanding of an applicant’s self-reported functional abilities and limitations. SSA could use those insights to improve the disability determination process for those applying for disability benefits. Second, the instrument could help federal, state, and local programs identify interventions for people who need return-to-work services.
The WD-FAB offers an opportunity to leverage advances in approaches to integrate functional information into the assessment of work disability using comprehensive, efficient technologies to capture self-reported functioning. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The Annie E. Casey Foundation launched Family-Centered Community Change (FCCC) in 2012 to support three local partnerships seeking to help parents and children in high-poverty neighborhoods succeed together. These partnerships, located in Buffalo, New York; Columbus, Ohio; and San Antonio, Texas, are each developing a more integrated set of services, including housing assistance, high-quality education, and job training.
Since 2013, the Urban Institute has been evaluating each initiative’s design, implementation, and outcomes for families. The theory behind the demonstration is that “two-generation approaches,” or coordinating high-quality programs and services for children and parents, can help break intergenerational poverty and move families with low incomes toward greater economic independence. This paper is one of a series of reports based on what we have learned from five years of observations from our research.
The three FCCC initiatives provide services including early childhood education and child care, partnerships with local elementary schools, after-school care, employment and training for adults, financial education, and coaching to help parents set goals and stay on target. All three initiatives operate within communities where families move frequently and have widely varying needs and within neighborhoods with long histories of racial segregation and systemic racism, changing job markets, demographic changes, and gentrification. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The apprenticeship movement is reshaping skills, policies, and programs in the United States at a critical moment in our country’s history. This reader offers a chorus of voices emanating from different countries and populations, echoing commitment to bright, sustainable workforce futures through a well-crafted approach to this talent development model. The collected chapters and vignettes address questions for businesses of all sizes, community-based organizations, and schools looking for a way to build strong pipelines of skilled labor, stimulate economies in struggling regions, provide options for adults seeking career changes, and stimulate engagement for students filled with curiosity about the promise of work-based learning. We endeavored to shatter myths, remove barriers, and erase fears of attempting apprenticeship, particularly for small and medium-size businesses and parents who are naturally concerned about meaningful and gainful career choices for their children. This reader intends to show the possibilities modern apprenticeship affords contemporary societies and to inspire many to reframe the boundaries of traditional thinking. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Long run labor market trends in the American economy pose significant challenges. Growth in real money wages has been slow, with the most rapid gains taking place among workers at the top of the earnings distribution. Labor force participation and employment rates have been falling. Reduced labor force participation and obsolescence of workers’ skills weigh down GDP growth, with predictable negative repercussions for living standards and federal revenue. These trends suggest a need for a major revamping of policies and programs that prepare people for careers and retrain people who must change careers. The authors focus on three major policy initiatives to maximize worker training to bolster productivity and wages: Improve access to in-demand training; strengthen connections between career and technical education and training and employer needs; and build a robust apprenticeship system that emphasizes learning by doing in a context that involves apprentice contributions to production, and culminates in a respected occupational credential. This new system goes beyond the “academic-only” approach commonly pursued in the US and should match individual interests, aptitudes, and skills to in-demand jobs and make new training investments that are cost effective and valued by employers. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Apprenticeship is a workforce development strategy that trains a worker for a specific occupation using a structured combination of paid on-the-job training and related instruction. Increased costs for higher education and possible mismatches between worker skills and employer needs have led to interest in alternative workforce development strategies such as apprenticeship. The primary federal role in supporting apprenticeships is the administration of the registered apprenticeship system. In this system, the federal Department of Labor (DOL) or a DOLrecognized state apprenticeship agency (SAA) is responsible for evaluating apprenticeship programs to determine if they are in compliance with federal regulations related to program design, worker protections, and other criteria. Programs that are in compliance are “registered.” While registration does not trigger any specific federal financial incentives, registered programs may receive preferential consideration in various federal systems and apprentices who complete a registered program receive a nationally-recognized credential.
The Social Security Administration each year processes
millions of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental
Security Income disability benefits. Currently, 10 states lack a second level
review process, known as reconsideration, for disability claims that are
initially denied and appealed. SSA has begun to reestablish the reconsideration
stage in these states. This move has raised concerns and broader questions
about SSA’s overall disability determination process.
In this paper the authors examine SSA’s disability
determination process and past efforts to improve SSA’s process, and challenges
and lessons for future reform. They identify a path forward that could improve
the quality and timeliness of decisions by enhancing the reconsideration
process to make it more robust, allowing better decisions to be made earlier,
while keeping long-term program costs neutral. To support this approach, they
put forward three options Congress could consider to provide sustained funding
and commitment to the agreed-upon vision for reform. These options would allow
SSA to test strategies and gather evidence to support decision making. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Since 2009, New York City has implemented the Jobs-Plus
program to increase employment and earnings public housing residents. The
program is modeled after a successful federal demonstration from the 1990s that
combines employment services, financial incentives, and community supports to
promote work. The Urban Institute evaluation of the program combined interviews
and focus groups with staff and participants with analysis of data on Jobs-Plus
participation, public housing residency, and quarterly earnings before and
after implementation. We concluded that the program provided personal,
culturally competent employment services and cultivate a network of employers
interested in hiring Jobs-Plus participants. Among participants, Jobs-Plus
increased employment by 12 percentage points and quarterly earnings by $497.
Our evaluation found mixed evidence that the program slightly improved
employment rates for residents of the targeted developments and found no
evidence that it improved earnings. We attribute this lack of impact primarily
to two factors. First, the Jobs-Plus providers might not have assisted a high
enough proportion of residents to change overall trends within the
developments. Second, our evaluation could not capture the program’s impact on
the many participants who lived in the targeted developments but were not
officially listed on the lease and were thus not included in our data. [Note: contains copyrighted material].