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The Meaning of Choice: Implications for Systems and Providers

Marc Gold & Associates | Michael Callahan
January 2000 | Report/Brief

This report, commissioned by the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities reflects the experiences and perspectives of personnel involved with four of the seven demonstration projects involved with the National Choice Demonstration conducted by the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the US Department of Education lasted from 1993 to 1998.
The results of the demonstration were dramatic. Across all sites, 3,148 persons received services. Of that number, 2,069 chose to fully develop individualized plans for employment. By the end of the projects’ services in 1999, 1,362 (66%) of the participants who made plans were successfully employed. A particularly important finding relates to the number of persons who chose self-employment as an outcome. Two hundred and thirty (230) of the participants who became employed started businesses of their own (11% of the total participants who made plans). Across all projects, participants worked from 19.3 hours per week on average (UCP project) to 30.0 hours (Washington State project) and made $5.39 per hour in wages (UCP, based on pre-$5.35 minimum wage rate) on average to $11.62 per hour (Washington). 
This report provides a reflection of those experiences and lessons felt to be the most significant by the persons most closely involved with the project’s implementation. It is also designed to be a companion report to John O’Brien’s “Another Look at Choice”, a paper also commissioned by the Presidential Task Force that offers perspective from the point of view of the participants who received choice-based services and outcomes.