Evaluation on supporting young people with disabilities

Title: An evaluation of projects supporting individualised opportunities for young people with disabilities

Research team: Dr. Richard Wynne and colleagues of the Work Research Centre (WRC)

Results: Summary report published August 2014. Full report published September 2014. A presentation and podcast are also available.


The policy context in which Day Care Services for people with disabilities operate has changed substantially in recent years. The ‘New Directions’ report' recommends a move away from group-based day care service provision within sheltered workshops towards a more community and employment focused approach. In addition, the New Directions report strongly recommends a move towards individualised planning and delivery of services. These are both key themes of the 15 projects funded under Genio’s 2012 Grant Stream 3 – ‘Supporting School Leavers’.

The Value for Money Report (VFM), which points to the need to assess the costs of new approaches to service provision, is another key element of the policy context.These changes in the policy context allow for a radically different approach to be taken to service provision. In their different ways, the 15 projects under review have embraced this challenge and though they have disparate aims, diverse participants and operate on different scales, they provide fascinating insights into how services for school leavers with disabilities may look in the future. 

Aims of the evaluation 

This study documented and evaluated the activities and outcomes of 15 projects funded by Genio in 2012, including interviews with 39 individuals from these projects and a further 19 individuals from comparison projects. The projects intended to explore alternative ways of meeting the work, education, training and recreation needs of young people with disabilities through mainstream services, and be located in ‘real’ community settings. The projects aimed to provide innovative responses to delivering individualised supports to prepare school leavers for independent lives; provide work-focused supports, job-focused training or further education; and create, opportunities to socialise and engage in desired recreational activities in the community.

The research questions for the study were: 

  • What is the impact of an individualised model of service with a focus on supporting mainstream employment, education, training and recreational opportunities?
  • How did the services implement this model?
  • What are the direct costs of this model?

Key findings

  • Mainstream community based activities are central to the success of projects in the eyes of participants:

- Projects that undertook or provided community based activities were more highly rated than projects where this was just an aspiration.

- Projects that tried to develop community resources were more highly rated by participants - activities such as awareness raising with targeted mainstream resources such as libraries, sports facilities and others are important here.

  • The new approaches to service delivery and organisation were highly valued by participants:

- Participants consistently rated the Genio-supported projects more highly than comparison services.

- Significantly better outcomes were achieved in the areas concerning citizenship, employability, social inclusion and overall quality of life.

  • Project costs were generally lower when compared to comparable projects

- Direct pay costs per client were generally lower in 10 out of 13 projects in the study for whom data was available.