Generalist Practice Blog Post 10: A job for teens with developmental disabilities

Explain the importance of evaluation as a concept.

In the Krajewski et al., please summarize the findings of the program as reflected in the program evaluation.

Good Tuesday Morning! This topic is one that is near and dear to my heart, as I worked with adults with developmental disabilities in a day program and supported employment program in Longmont, Colorado. Even though these individuals were younger than the people with whom I worked, it is apparent (and something that I knew long before reading the article) that, had the caregivers of the people with whom I’d worked received training at a young age to enter the workforce, many more of them would have been equipped to take a job. And the job could have been potentially more challenging and rewarding than the jobs that many of them had.

Evaluation as a concept is important because it give insight into the usefulness and effectiveness of programs, resources, surveys, etc. Without evaluation, we would never know if a program like the one described in the article as well as the program in which I worked was beneficial or simply a waste of time. Evaluation saves organizations money in the long-term. An organization can determine if a program is working and pull out if it is not. Evaluation finds strengths and weaknesses in a program. A smart organization or community knows how to capitalize on those strengths and tap into the appropriate resources to shore up the weaknesses.

I love that this program was based in the performing arts, my other life path. I’ve had the privilege of directing a group of adults with developmental disabilities in a music and theatre performance in Boulder, Colorado. We worked on it for weeks, and the pride that they took in the finished product literally brought tears to my eyes. A study like the topic of this post shows how something like that production could help increase job and life skills for these people.

According to the study, 75% of the students who participated in the program exceeded expectations (pp. 172) of the program. Some points of intervention that were discovered were areas like ‘staying in assigned areas’. The results also determined that the program is too short (6 weeks) to make big structural adjustments, so in the future the program designers can extend the length of the program to increase those benefits. There were six students who could not handle the program and were dismissed because of poor behavior choices.

There were challenges to the program, primarily the sheer volume of tasks to be completed. Overall, this program appeared to be highly effective. It gave an outlet to those who tend to be marginalized. These kids were not only developmentally disabled but were also from low-income families. The program proved to be empowering for these youth as they were able to see this project through to the end.

Imagine if you were in the same situation? How proud do we feel when we take on what seems to be a monumental task, and then we are able to see its success? It feels pretty good.

Krajewski, E. R., Wiencek, P., Brady, S., Trapp, E., Rice Jr., P. (2010). Teaching employable skills to special education youth: An empowerment approach. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5(1), 167-176.