R-5: Does VR Effectively Support Community Living?

The Bottom Line

State vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs play a critical role in helping people with severe disabilities receive services that enable them to remain independent and/or get jobs. But research on VR services for individuals transitioning out of institutions into community living is very limited. This study examined data from the State of Illinois' VR program in order to understand outcomes for people who received services in relation to their living arrangement. The findings may influence VR policies regarding supports and services. 

This project examined data from 50,729 individuals with disability extracted from the virtual case management database from the state of Illinois Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. The data covered a period of six years (January 2004 through June 2010) and was analyzed to assess predictors of employment success. 

We assessed the impact of an individual’s demographic characteristics, type of living arrangement, nature of impairment and type of VR services on three indicators of employment success: getting employed, hourly wages and hours worked per week. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations between employment outcomes and the above listed predictors. Significant differences were found among living arrangements in terms of gender, education, age, race/ethnic group, disability type and number of disabilities. 

With regards to employment, VR clients living in facilities and institutions presented marginally lower odds for being employed compared to clients living in private residences. Additionally, these individuals were 30% less likely to work the average number of hours than individuals residing in private homes.

Compared to individuals living in private residences, those residing in community residential/group homes had similar odds of getting employed but had decreased odds (47% lower) of earning a higher than average wage and working higher than average hours per week (63% lower). 

Further, individuals who are minorities, have less education and more disabilities had lower odds for being employed and other positive economic outcomes. Individuals with sensory disabilities had better odds of getting employed, better wages and worked more hours per week than individuals with other types of disabilities.

For more information:

Fact Sheet

Principal Investigator: Fabricio Balcazar, PhD

This is one of six projects that uses existing data (Core A) to analyze how barriers to and experiences of community living may differ across socio-demographic and geographic groups

More Information about the Design of the Research: 

Sample, Data Collection and Measurement, Data Analysis

Project Investigators: Fabricio Balcazar, PhDAshmeet Oberoi, MSc, MA, Sean Cariño, MPH, Fredrik G. Langi