Description Framing the Issues
. Over the past three decades, the receipt of disability-related government benefits has increased substantially, and the employment of people with disabilities has declined significantly relative to the employment of people without disabilities. These trends have heightened interest in finding alternatives to the current set of fragmented programs to promote the economic well-being of people with disabilities and alleviate fiscal pressures on the SSA trust funds and Federal budget. Changes to policies and practices—grounded in research that is effectively communicated to stakeholders—have the potential to reverse these trends and improve the employment outcomes of people with disabilities.
Mission and Intended Impact. The mission of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Policy and Measurement (EPM-RRTC) is to support the disability and policy communities as they take on important policy issues. The Center will generate and translate new knowledge about disability employment policy and ways to measure the labor market experiences of people with disabilities. In doing so, the Center will improve the quality of information about program interactions, policy options, and employment outcomes, increase evidenced-based advocacy and policymaking, foster more effective policies and practices, and ultimately, increase employment for people with disabilities.
Activities. In pursuit of this mission, the Center will conduct 11 research projects and 12 knowledge translation projects that involve a range of dissemination, training, and technical assistance activities. These research projects will support the disability and policy communities in three priority areas by generating new knowledge about the interactions of public programs, assessing the potential impact of SSDI policy reform options, and developing and disseminating innovative, valid, and reliable methods of measuring employment outcomes. Dissemination projects will promote access to timely and relevant information through monthly reports that track employment trends in a timely manner, a compendium of state-level policy variables, policy briefs, a journal volume compiling research findings around a unified theme, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and this Center website. Training projects will improve the utilization of evidence-based information by increasing the capacity of end users to effectively utilize disability employment policy research and data through monthly webcasts designed to facilitate knowledge translation to practitioners, policy makers and people with disabilities, a State-of-the-Science conference, presentations at scientific conferences, and a junior researcher training program. Lastly, technical assistance projects will further build and cement the utilization of evidence-based information by providing technical assistance to policy and program stakeholders and information/referral services.
To fulfill the EPM-RRTC mission, an experienced, interdisciplinary team has been assembled. With expertise that spans the areas of economics, law, political science, and vocational rehabilitation and and years of experience in research, service delivery, and policy advocacy, this team includes:
The EPM-RRTC is funded by a five-year, $4.375 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration For Community Living, NIDILRR - Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs) Program.