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The Learning & Working During the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research & Training Center

PI: Maryann Davis, Ph.D.

Deputy Directors:  Marsha Ellison, PhD and Kathryn Sabella, MA

Time Frame: 9/1/2014 - 9/30/2019

Funded By: The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), and from the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, United States Department of Health and Human Services, ACL Grant# 90RT5031NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Our Mission: The Learning & Working RRTC is a national effort that aims to improve the supports for youth and young adults, ages 14-30, with serious mental health conditions to successfully complete their schooling and training and move into rewarding work lives.

Improving outcomes of youth and young adults (ages 16-21) with SMHC with adapted Individual Placement & Support

Lead Investigator: Marsha Ellison

Investigators: Gary Bond, PhD, Deborah Becker, MEd, CRC (Dartmouth), Steven Reeder, MEd, CPRP,, CRC (MD, DMH), Maryann Davis, PhD (UMass)

This study aims to adapt and pilot test an evidence-based employment model (Individual Placement and Support – IPS) which was previously designed and tested primarily for mature adults, so as to support the youngest of working age individuals with serious mental health conditions (ages 16-21). By improving employment and education outcomes during this foundational time, we hope to divert potential trajectories of poverty and disability benefits dependence. We will conduct an open trial of the model involving 50 youth and young adults with a two-and-a-half-year follow-up at two sites in the state of Maryland. Interview data will be collected every six months from participating youth and young adults, and supported employment specialists, and this data will be used to inform final revisions to the manual and to determine program outcomes.  


IPS Supported Employment for Youth: Helping Transition Age Youth with Serious Mental Health Conditions to Access Education, Jobs, and Careers
Prepublication Edition - 2018
Sarah J. Swanson, Deborah R. Becker, Gary R. Bond, & Marsha L. Ellison

Web Version (with interactive form elements) | Print Version

IPS Fidelity Scale & Scoring

IPS Fidelity Scale for Young Adults

IPS Fidelity Scale Scoresheet

Peer Academic Coaching Support for College Students

PIs:  Maryann Davis, PhD, Amanda Costa, BS
Investigators: Kathryn Sabella, MA, Marsha Ellison, PhD (UMass), Dorothy Hutchinson, PhD (Boston University), & Mary Huber, PhD (Wright University)

The goal of this project is to produce an empirically supported peer coach intervention, called Peer Academic Supports for Success (PASS), to help new college students with serious mentalh health conditions (SMHC) succeed academically. PASS will be developed in partnership with young adults with lived experience. PASS is intended to be a combination of two previous approaches: an existing Peer Coach approach designed for college freshmen with autism spectrum disorders and a non-peer Coaching approach that has been utilized with students with SMHC. Qualitative data gathered from students with SMHC and a review of relevant literature will be used to inform a small pilot open trial of the PASS model. Following this pilot open trial, intervention and research protocols will be revised as appropriate and then the finalized pilot randomized controlled trial will be implemented to produce feasibility findings to inform future intervention efficacy (stage 3) research.


Peer Coaches Promoting Academic Success for College Students (PASS)
Amanda Costa, Laura Golden & Maryann Davis, UMass Medical School, Dori Hutchinson, PhD, Boston University, Mary Huber, PhD, Wright State University | June 2017
Peer Coaches Promoting Academic Success for College Students (2)
Tampa Conference
Amanda Costa & Laura Golden | March 2017

The College Years Webinar
Costa, Lane, & Golden | 2018

Download webinar slides | View the webinar

An examination of the transition to employment among serious adolescent offenders making the transition into emerging adulthood (Stage 1) (Priority (b))

PI: Edward Mulvey, PhD (U.Pitt)

Investigators: C.Shubert (U.Pitt), Maryann Davis, PhD, Charles Lidz, PhD (UMass)

This is a secondary data analysis project which capitalizes on an existing, comprehensive, longitudinal data set from the Pathways to Desistance study to provide information about the processes of educational attainment and employment among adolescents involve with the justice system. Youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions who are involved with the justice system face considerable challenges completing their education and maintaining employment during this critical developmental period. This study serves as a cost-effective use of existing data to will paint a rich picture of the changes that occur in the lives of over 1,300 felony level offenders from approximately age 16-23 as well as to address unexamined issues about how to promote positive outcomes in this sample of adolescents.


Behavioral Health Disorders and Employment for Justice Involved Adolescents
Edward Mulvey and Carol Schubert | 2018
Webinar Slides | View the Webinar


Mental Health Symptoms and Employment in Adolescents with Mental Illness in the Justice System
Edward P. Mulvey, Carol A. Schubert, Samuel Hawes | 2018

Career Development Activities in Young Adulthood Among Individuals with SMHC

PI: Kathryn Sabella, MA

Co I's: Kathleen Biebel, PhD; Charles Lidz, PhD; Maryann Davis, PhD

This retrospective study aims to provide a long-term picture of career development activities during young adulthood among individuals with serious mental health conditions (SMHC). Through this study, we will create long-term narratives which will illustrate cumulative career development activities and pathways in early adulthood as framed by our theoretical model. These narratives will also allow us to assess the impact that becoming a young parent has on career development. We will explore barriers and facilitators to achieving employment, education, and training goals and identify malleable factors that could be potential targets of future interventions for youth and young adults. This study will be completed through one-time, qualitative interviews in which respondents (older young adults ages 26-30 with SMHC) will be asked to describe their education, training, and employment experiences from age 14 to present-day. 


A Challenging Yet Motivating Journey: The Experiences of Young Adult Parents with Serious Mental Health Conditions
Emma Pici-D’Ottavio and Jennifer Whitney | 2018
Webinar Slides | View the Webinar

Navigating School & Work with a Serious Mental Health Condition
Kathryn Sabella, Laura Golden, and Emma Pici D'Ottavio | 2017

View the Webinar


School and Work Trajectories of Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions
April 4, 2019 | CHEER | NARRTC Conference
Emma Pici-D'Ottavio

Subjective Experiences of Having and Managing a Serious Mental Health Condition in Young Adulthood
March 4, 2019 | CHEER Study

Kathryn Sabella, Ph.D., Laura Golden, B.A., Emma Pici-D’Ottavio, B.A.

In Their Own Words: Young Adults Navigating School and Work While Living With A Mental Health Condition
Kathryn Sabella, Emma Pici-D'Ottavio, Laura Golden | 2018

A Prospective Longitudinal Study of Y&YA Employment and Education

PI: Kathryn Sabella, PhD

Investigators: Maryann Davis, PhD, Jonathan Delman, PhD, JD, MPH

This study seeks to assess what affects the direction of employment and educational activities of youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions. These discoveries will facilitate the development and modification of employment and education services for young people with severe mental health disabilities. We believe this study is important because youth and young adults face serious challenges to developing a meaningful employment career and existing vocational and educational support services have had a limited impact on assisting youth and young adults to develop such careers. The study will recruit 150 youth and young adults from a variety of employment, educational, and clinical services and interview them at baseline and 3 four-month intervals over a year. All interviews will be done by youth and young adults who will also contribute actively to the analysis and writing of publications and to public presentations.

Collaborations in the Triangle: Vocational Rehabilitation, Adult, and Child Mental Health

PI: Maryann Davis, PhD

Investigators: Nancy Koroloff, PhD (Portland State U), Susan Foley, PhD, Joe Marrone, L. Zhang (UMass Boston), Marsha Ellison, PhD (UMass)

This research aims to identify potential factors that will improve inter-organizational collaborations among the triangle of service systems (vocational rehabilitation (VR), child mental health (CMH), and adult mental health (AMH), and their programs, in order to improve the transition to employment in youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions (SMHCs). This project will develop knowledge about factors that are associated with collaborations among the triangle of service systems, and the relationship between collaboration patterns and vocational service utilization and outcomes. The triangle system is key because VR and AMH fund employment services, while CMH identifies and works with youth and young adults during critical ages for developing work habits and skills (i.e. ages 16-21). We will conduct qualitative interviews with the localtriangle system leaders in communities that are funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “Now is the Time-Healthy Transitions” (NITT-HT) grant program, this will be followed by network analyses of triangle programs for youth and young adults with SMHCs in NITT-HT communities through a web-based survey, and finally we will explore whether there is a relationship between community-level triangle collaborations and NITT-HT communities’ VR agency administrative service utilization and the ensuing youth and young adult outcomes.


Vocational Rehabilitation Leaders' Perceptions of Collaboration with Child and Adult Mental Health for Successful Employment Outcomes in Transition-age Youth
Maryann Davis, Anwyn Gatesy-Davis | 2018

YouTube Web Series: Comeback TV

PI: Tania Duperoy, BA

The YouTube Web Series, Comeback TV, is a project that aims to share mental health resources that aid youth and young adults with lived experience with their efforts of employment, education, and general mental health recovery throughout their transition to adulthood via a video web series. The overall focus is to support and inform youth and young adults on how to reach their education and employment goals. The show also integrates a theme of recovery and self-advocacy constructs. 

Internships for YA College Students

Leaders: RTC Knowledge Translation Team

Description: The goal of this project is to incorporate a formal young adult college student internship into the next iteration of the Transitions RRTC. To assist in this, we offer college internships over the course of five years to five youth and young adult college students with a serious mental health condition or who have a family member with aserious mental health condition.

Training for college administrators, faculty, and staff

PI: Amanda Costa, BS

The goal of this project is to develop training materials that will help university faculty, administration, and staff (e.g., from office of disability services) identify when a student’s academic performance is impeded by a serious mental health condition, and take steps to help that student succeed academically. Materials will describe the nature of serious mental health condition and its potential impact on educational attainment, and provide materials for faculty and staff.

Toolkit for employers of youth and young adult peer recovery workers

PIs: Jonathan Delman, PhD, JD, MPH, Vanessa Klodnick, LSCW

This project will create a technical assistance (TA) toolkit, training modules, and informational webinars to assist employers to develop a youth and young adult peer recovery worker (PRW) workforce. In this TA project we seek
1) to develop a toolkit using input from our advisory committee;
2) to pilot the toolkit at two sites to assess feasibility and outcomes; and
3) develop final products including an employer toolkit, flexible training modules to accompany the toolkit, and an accompanying webinar series.


Effectively Employing Young Adult Peer Providers: A Toolkit
Jonathan Delman, PhD, JD, MPH & Vanessa Vorhies Klodnick, PhD, LCSW

Download the full toolkit | Download individual chapters and appendices


Employing Young Adult Peer Support Workers
Jonathan Delman, PhD, JD, MPH & Vanessa Vorhies Klodnick, PhD, LCSW

View the webinar

Developing a model of supporting youth advisory councils in vocational rehabilitation agencies

Leadership: Amanda Costa, BS, Marsha Ellison, PhD, Jonathan Delman, PhD, JD, MPH

Consultant: Ty Smith

The goal of this technical assistance project is to develop and test a model for creating effective youth advisory councils in state vocational rehabilitation (VR) Agencies, and thereby infuse youth voice and input into VR services.

Tip Sheets & Issue Briefs

Tips and Tricks to Starting a Young Adult Council Part 1: 10 Steps to Starting a Young Adult Advisory Council
Mizrahi, R., Costa, A., & Youth Advisory Board of the Transitions ACR | 2018
Tips and Tricks to Starting a Young Adult Council Part 2: The Do’s and Don’ts of Young Adult Councils
Mizrahi, R., Costa, A., & Youth Advisory Board of the Transitions ACR |2018


Tips and Tricks to Starting a Young Adult Council
Raphael Mizrahi & Tania Duperoy | 2018
Webinar Slides

State Inter-Agency Summit for Improving Employment Outcomes among Youth and Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions

Leadership: Marsha Ellison, PhD, Andrea Guest, Maryann Davis, PhD

Consultants: Jonathan Delman, PhD, JD, MPH, Joe Marrone

The goal of this project is to provide technical assistance to state agencies serving youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions to help improve their education and employment outcomes with a focus on departments of vocational rehabilitation. We are proposing to provide direct training and technical assistance to address this need for inter-agency collaboration.

Issue Briefs & Tip Sheets

Blueprint for Building Inter-Agency Collaboration Through Strategic Planning
Ellison, M., Swensen, R., & Logan, D
Additional Resources
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