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The Learning & Working During the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research & Training Center | 2019-2024

PI: Maryann Davis, PhD
Director of Research: Kathryn Sabella, PhD
Director of Knowledge Translation: Marsha Ellison, PhD
Director of Operations: Amanda Costa, MPH
Time Frame: 10/1/2019-9/30/2024

Funded By: The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), ACL Grant# 90RTEM0005. NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Our Mission: The Learning & Working RRTC is a national effort that aims to improve the supports for youth and young adults, ages 14-30, with serious mental health conditions to successfully complete their schooling and training and move into rewarding work lives.

Peer Academic Supports for College Students with Serious Mental Health Conditions (PASS 2.0)

Peer Academic Supports for College Students with Serious Mental Health Conditions (PASS 2.0)

Peer Academic Supports for College Students with Serious Mental Health Conditions (PASS 2.0)

PI: Maryann Davis, PhD
Co-Investigators: Dori Hutchinson, ScD (Boston University), Paul Cherchia, MS (Boston University), Laura Golden, BA, Joyce Morgan, MS (UMass Boston), Jenny Reuter, MEd (UMass Boston)

Description: This project builds on a project from the 2014-2019 RRTC (NIDILRR/ACL #90RT5031). PASS is a hybrid randomized controlled efficacy trial/implementation study to test model efficacy for academic persistence and examine implementation factors. The (PASS) academic peer coaching model aims to improve academic persistence, performance and retention in 18-24-year-old freshmen and sophomores with SMHC. PASS Coaches (juniors and seniors) teach and coach curricula that target academic success for two semesters.

Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE) for Young Adults with Work Goals

Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE) for Young Adults with Work Goals

Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE) for Young Adults with Work Goals

PI: Michelle Mullen, MS, CRC, CPRP
Co-Investigator: Kathryn Sabella, PhD

Description: Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE) is a career development model that fully integrates employment and education supports to assist young adults to create economically self-sufficient careers. This project proposes a feasibility randomized control trial (RCT) to determine the acceptability of (1) HYPE training implementation methods and (2) research methods by recruiting, retaining, and collecting longitudinal data on young adults being referred to Massachusetts’s Vocational Rehabilitation agency (Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, MRC). Young adults will be randomized to either receive MRC and HYPE services (experimental group) or MRC typical vocational rehabilitation services.

Learn more about the HYPE model on their website here.

Sequences of Employment and Education in the Transition to Adulthood (SEED 2.0)

Sequences of Employment and Education in the Transition to Adulthood (SEED 2.0)

Sequences of Employment and Education in the Transition to Adulthood (SEED 2.0)

PIs: Kathryn Sabella, PhD and Maryann Davis, PhD

Description:  This project builds on a project from the 2014-2019 RRTC (NIDILRR/ACL #90RT5031).  In the previous RRTC, we conducted an initial longitudinal exploratory study of 179 YAs with SMHC (ages 16-25) from across the U.S. to identify and explore short-term changes in school, training, work and factors related to career development over tie. In this round, “SEED 2.0”, we will recruit an additional 100 young adults, specifically those with experience in the foster care system and those with co-occurring substance use disorders and collect data from them over the course of 20 months. Results from this study will further enhance our knowledge about school, training, and work patterns over time, factors that contribute to those patterns or are influenced by those patterns, and if/how the experiences of young adults with additional challenges (e.g., foster care involvement, substance use disorders) differ from those without.

Learn more about the SEED study here.

Education and Employment Among Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions in the U.S.

Education and Employment Among Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions in the U.S.

Education and Employment Among Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions in the U.S.

PI: Kathryn Sabella, PhD
Co-Investigator: Heather Ringeisen, PhD (RTI International)

Description: The NIDILRR long range plan emphasizes the need for updated national statistics on employment and education for individuals with disabilities, including an analysis of the lingering effects of the Great Recession (2007-2009) and recent legislation, policy, and program service changes, to inform the development of future interventions, policies, and research priorities. In response to this need, a descriptive and exploratory analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) to address the following research questions:

  1. How are youth and young adults (Y&YAs) ages 18-30 with serious mental health conditions (SMHC) faring in their education and employment pursuits? Are there differences in their experiences based on the severity of their mental health condition or if they are from vulnerable sub-groups (e.g. racial and ethnic minority status, those with co-occurring substance use disorders)? Are there other factors (e.g., physical health status, age) that influence their education and employment status?
  2. Are there trends, post-Great Recession, in employment or education that indicate a pattern of recovery post-Great Recession for YA with SMHC? Do those patterns differ based on the severity of their mental health condition or if they are from vulnerable sub-groups (e.g. racial and ethnic minority status, those with co-occurring substance use disorders)? Are there other factors (e.g., physical health status, age) that influence their education and employment patterns?
Engaging Youth and Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions in Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)

Engaging Youth and Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions in Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)

Engaging Youth and Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions in Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)

PIs: Marsha Ellison, PhD
Co-Investigators: Joseph Marrone, MEd (Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston) and Susan Foley, PhD (Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston)

Description: The proposed project aims to acquire new knowledge on barriers and facilitators to providing Pre-ETS to students with SMHC and whether and how they are accessing and utilizing Pre-ETS. Through surveys and interviews with VR agency’s contracted providers of Pre-ETS cross-disability services and with other stakeholders, plus a review of administrative data, Investigators will seek generalizable information to delivering Pre-ETS to this population.

Advancing Employment through Career Technical Education (CTE) Policy & Practice

Advancing Employment through Career Technical Education (CTE) Policy & Practice

Advancing Employment through Career Technical Education (CTE) Policy & Practice

PIs: Marsha Ellison, PhD
Co-Investigators: Colleen McKay, MA, CAGS, Austin Estes, MA (Advance CTE), and Deanne Unruh, PhD (University of Oregon)

Description: This project takes advantage of this opportune time to examine career and technical education (CTE) for youth and young adults (Y&YAs) with serious mental health conditions (SMHC). Given the lack of knowledge about ways CTE can be effective for Y&YAs with SMHC, research is needed to identify best practices, and develop and disseminate resources for training and technical assistance in engaging Y&YAs with SMHC in CTE. The proposed project will utilize a survey of State CTE Directors and case studies of model states to better understand innovative CTE models for funding and policy and address how services can be tailored to support young adults with SMHC.

Graphic Sequential Art Series (Comic)

Graphic Sequential Art Series (Comic)

Graphic Sequential Art Series (Comic)

Leadership: Dee Logan, BA

Description: Through existing knowledge and the input of our National Youth Advisory Board (YAB), we have determined that comics, and their book-length version called graphic novels, are an effective dissemination format for youth and young adults (Y&YAs) with serious mental health conditions (SMHC).  The L&W RRTC will produce a comic series called “L&W Shorts” with a target audience of Y&YAs with SMHC.  Series topics will be related to the mission of the L&W RRTC and topics suggested by our YA staff and YAB members.

Memes

Memes

Memes

Leadership: Dee Logan, BA and Rafe Mizrahi, BS

Description: Memes use popular cultural images and simple language to convey meaningful content on social media. They are popular with youth and young adults (Y&YAs) to communicate information and contemporary humor, values, and social meanings.  Our memes will be developed in close collaboration with our National Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and will be led by a young adult staff member. The YAB will aid in selecting topics, images, and content. 

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Leadership: Dee Logan, BA

Description: We will develop a L&W RRTC podcast with a target audience of youth and young adults (Y&YAs) with serious mental health conditions (SMHC), thus using another disseminations strategy familiar to this audience. The podcast’s aim is to impart information from L&W RRTC findings to help Y&YAs navigate school and work while managing their mental health. To ensure content is relatable for Y&YAs with SMHC, the podcast will be led and co-hosted by two YA researchers with lived experience. 

Internships (Pre-Service Training)

Internships (Pre-Service Training)

Internships (Pre-Service Training)

Leadership: Amanda Costa, BS

Undergraduate Internships: The goal of this project is to incorporate a formal YA college and graduate student internship into the L&W RRTC. The undergraduate internship is designed for Y&YAs with SMHC. With little to no work experience, they will benefit from a welcoming environment to develop vocational skills and prepare for entry into the labor market, while simultaneously learning mental health self-management on the job. For this project, we will offer at least five (maximum of ten) college internship opportunities to Y&YAs with SMHCs actively enrolled in a 2- or 4-year college.

Graduate Internships: The graduate internship, in partnership with Becker College, is for Master’s in Counseling degree candidates interested in research and provides a 100 week summer program with L&W RRTC faculty and staff. These ongoing partnerships will take place annually throughout the summer months.

Post-Doctoral Training (Graduate)

Post-Doctoral Training (Graduate)

Post-Doctoral Training (Graduate)

Leadership: Maryann Davis, PhD

Description: This project will provide a two-year, full-time post-doctoral fellowship position to help a promising scholar develop expertise and a research career in the transition to employment in youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions. We will recruit a recent graduate from a doctoral program in the relevant applied social sciences (e.g., secondary education, vocational counseling, psychology, social work, etc.) who is interested in a future academic research position.  The fellow will be partnered with faculty mentors Dr. Davis and/or Dr. Ellison to define a research question that expands upon existing L&W RRTC funded research.

Directed Training for the Wider Community of Stakeholders

Directed Training for the Wider Community of Stakeholders

Directed Training for the Wider Community of Stakeholders

Leadership: Michelle Mullen, MS, CRC, CPRP and Debbie Nicolellis, MS, CRC, CPRP

Description: The 2019-2024 L&W RRTC will undertake a new training program to meet the needs of instrumental stakeholders in the transition to employment of youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions (e.g., service organizations, post-secondary educators, employers and state agencies). Ms. Mullen, Senior Project Director, and Ms. Nicolellis, Director of Training will lead this program and they will develop training packages and a training delivery program.  Package content will be tied to research findings and coincides with knowledge development phases from R1-R6. Other training packages may be designed from previous L&W RRTC research (e.g., keys to building collaborations between VR and MH agencies).

Intensive Technical Assistance (TA) for Organizational and System Change

Intensive Technical Assistance (TA) for Organizational and System Change

Intensive Technical Assistance (TA) for Organizational and System Change

Leadership: Marsha Ellison, PhD
Senior Advisor: Jonathan Delman, PhD, JD

Description: While all our dissemination and basic technical assistance (TA) is essential for raising knowledge and awareness, true organization and system change requires an intensive multi-level effort best explicated by the field of Implementation Science.  We will initiate an intensive, multi-level process: develop a more in-depth intake process with TA requestors to investigate needs for program, practice, or system change; suggest that requestors conduct a needs assessment of content areas or implementation approaches that are un- or underdeveloped in their state or organization (e.g., training, follow-up coaching, leadership or policy development); offer a program of training and TA as described in the training section above. Several outputs from our research projects are designed for TA. Examples include R6 policy papers and products, and knowledge gained through the study of Pre-ETS implementation (R5). Both projects result in immediately applicable findings adoptable by states and agencies. Consequently, we will prepare TA and training packages rapidly once findings are cultivated.

Virtual Toolkit on Developing Young Adult Councils for State Vocational Rehabilitation and Mental Health Agencies

Virtual Toolkit on Developing Young Adult Councils for State Vocational Rehabilitation and Mental Health Agencies

Virtual Toolkit on Developing Young Adult Councils for State Vocational Rehabilitation and Mental Health Agencies

Leadership: Amanda Costa, BS and Rafe Mizrahi, BS

Description: The L&W RRTC has special expertise in developing youth and young adult (Y&YAs) advisory councils, an area of growing interest in the development and delivery of Y&YAs services. The goal of this project is to develop and test a virtual toolkit to train state vocational rehabilitation (VR) and mental health (MH) agencies on developing effective, engaging young adult councils, that will benefit their organizations from young adult expertise in their service/policy design.