Caregiving Job Feasibility for Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities


A large number of young adults with disabilities are unemployed because of lack of suitable jobs. Care-giving jobs such as day care center aides, nursing home aides, and home health care aides, might offer employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities (ID).

Purpose and Anticipated Benefits

This study sought to identify a competitive type of employment of adults with ID, and caregiving jobs also offer excellent training for young adults with ID who may become parents.


Two young women with ID with an aptitude and interest in working at a day care center participated in the study designed by Michael Jones along with other Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas researchers Gary Ulicny, Mare Czyzewski, and Thomas Plante. Mary and Susan, both 21, had worked in assembly tasks at a sheltered workshop, lived in supervised group homes, and had graduated from a special education program at a public high school.




The project setting was at a private, nonprofit, university-affiliated daycare center with trained staff who used checklist, a highly effective procedure in maintaining performance after training. The abilities of employees in performing three care routines (play, toilet training, and developmental activities) were assessed during their training through observation and ratings on the supervisory checklists for these routines.  Observers scored each step as correctly completed or not correctly completed by the employees. Scores were derived by noting the percentage of steps performed correctly and compared to those of the care giver trainees without disabilities. During 30% of the observations with each employee in training, two observers simultaneously and independently rated the supervisory checklists. This formula was used: The number of steps scored for which raters agreed, divided by total number of steps scored, multiplied by 100. A multiple baseline design was used sequentially across the three care routines. To establish the baseline, supervised trainees did the care without any instruction or feedback given on their performance. Each participant was given a copy of the supervisory checklist, and each step was explained. They then observed a regular care giver perform the routine. Next, they did the routine and were assessed by the checklists. Supervisors reviewed the checklists and determined where improvement was needed.


The two women made a systematic increase in their task accomplishments. They also maintained their performance.


The encouraging results suggest that caregiving may be a feasible employment option for some people with ID.

Recommendation: Future research should establish work site training and placement producers to promote employment opportunities for people with ID. It also should identify characteristics of successful caregivers with disabilities and work settings. Co-worker attitudes also should be studied more.

Products: Jones, M.L., Ulicny, G.R., Czyzewski, M.J., & Plante, T.G. (1987, September). Employment in care-giving jobs for mentally disabled young adults: A feasibility study. Journal of Employment Counseling, 24(3), 122-129.