On September 30, the Obama Administration announced that a 5-year, $50 million federal grant was awarded to the state of California to establish demonstration projects designed to improve the education and employment outcomes for recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and State Supplemental Payment (SSP), aged 14-16, and their families. This program, known as the “Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income” or “PROMISE” started on October 1, 2013 with California receiving $10 million in federal funds each of the five years (scdd.ca.gov).
Almost a year ago, on November 8, 2012, is when the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services held a meeting in preparation for of the PROMISE Grant. This grant, a joint initiative with the Department of Education, Health and Human Services, Labor and the Social Security Administration (SSA), was made to promote better health, education, and post-secondary outcomes for children ages 14-16 who receive SSI and their families (disability.workforce3one.org).
The main focus of the PROMISE Grant is to improve the provision and coordination of various services, like those available through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants program, Medicaid health and home and community based services, Job Corps, Temporary Assistant for Needy Families, and Workforce Investment Act programs. PROMISE attempts to promote the increased use of like services, making sure that families are tied into programs that they may qualify for, but are not yet participating (disability.workforce3one.org). Services under the PROMISE grant include graduating from high school ready for college and career, completing postsecondary education and job training, and obtaining competitive employment in an integrated setting (rehab.cahwnet.gov).
Three distinct features of PROMISE are family involvement, multiple agency involvement, and the use of incentive payments to promote outcomes. First, the project is unique in that it will allow services to be provided to family members, rather than only SSI recipients. This could be beneficial to our youth by promoting the employment and training of their parents. This will require the involvement of programs that have not typically served youth with disabilities. Second, this will involve various agencies at various levels of government. Third, it will provide incentive payments based on actual savings to SSA from reduced benefit payments to beneficiaries. These features of PROMISE will make sure that it will address many of the difficulties in serving youth with disabilities (ssa.gov).
The purpose of PROMISE is to improve the life outcomes of youth on SSI, which will reduce their reliance on SSI in the long run by increasing their independence. This program is an innovative way to encourage states to restructure their service environments to achieve outcomes that benefit SSI youth, state agencies, and SSA (ssa.gov).