Evaluation of the Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income PROMISE Grants

2013-2022
Prepared for
Social Security Administration
close up of male hand on wheelchair wheel

Youth with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) face substantial barriers to economic independence in making the transition to adult life. The barriers are related to their health status, social isolation, service needs, and potential loss of disability benefits. As a result, the education and employment outcomes for youth SSI recipients are frequently less favorable than those for their peers without disabilities, leading to greater dependence on public programs and poorer overall economic well-being as adults. 

Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE)—is a joint initiative of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services, and Labor. It will address many of the barriers to economic independence faced by youth SSI recipients and their families. As the lead agency for the demonstration, ED is funding six demonstration programs to promote positive changes in education and employment outcomes for the target population. To achieve these outcomes, the PROMISE programs will provide innovative educational, vocational, and other services to youth and their families. The programs will also make better use of existing resources by improving service coordination among state and local agencies. Youth SSI recipients age 14 to 16 are eligible to enroll in the PROMISE study.

ED has provided total funding of $211 million to the following six states or groups of states to implement PROMISE programs over a five-year period starting October 2013: 

  • Arkansas
  • California 
  • Maryland 
  • New York 
  • Wisconsin 
  • The six-state ASPIRE consortium: Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah 

SSA has contracted with Mathematica to conduct an evaluation of the demonstration. The evaluation, which is based on an experimental research design, will address whether the provision of services and supports to SSI children ages 14 through 16 and their families results in better education and employment outcomes. The national evaluation is being conducted over a nine-year period, from October 2013 through September 2022, and will include: 

  • Follow-up surveys of youth enrollees and their families 18 months and five years after enrollment 
  • Collection of five years of follow-up data on enrollees from state, federal, and PROMISE program record systems 
  • Collection of qualitative information on the delivery of PROMISE services through site visits that will include interviews with program staff and focus groups with youth and parents 
  • An impact analysis to assess whether the PROMISE programs improved outcomes for program group members relative to usual services in areas such as service receipt, employment and earnings, educational attainment, self-determination, risky behaviors, and receipt of disability benefits 
  • A process analysis to understand the services delivered by each program and how those services relate to impacts
  •  A benefit-cost analysis of the PROMISE programs to determine whether, across a variety of perspectives, the impacts of the programs exceed their costs