As of last year, studies have shown, more than a million children in the U.S. were receiving benefits through the Supplemental Security Income program, or SSI, due to childhood disabilities. Many of those disabilities are permanent and will prevent them from working when they turn 18, but some kids would be fully able to support themselves if only they had help. That might be occupational therapy, or it could be coordinated support services.

Without these supports, unfortunately, many kids aren’t able to access meaningful work. Unfortunately, that means they remain on SSI as adults. To improve access to real opportunities to work for those who have been on SSI as kids, the Obama Administration has just announced a new program called “PROMISE.”

PROMISE, or “Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income,” is a joint project of the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Education Department, and the Department of Labor. Its startup goal is to run pilot projects in a handful of states in order to find programs that demonstrably promote better job and educational outcomes for kids on SSI. Participants would be teen SSI beneficiaries between 14 and 16.

States or groups of states will be able to apply to participate in the program, which is funded to offer up to $10 million a year for supportive pilot programs.

“Poor educational outcomes and low employment rates are not acceptable outcomes for any individual with a disability,” explained a spokesperson for the Department of Education. “With PROMISE, we hope to provide strong and effective partnerships with agencies to build capacity to achieve better results and outcomes for child SSI recipients and their families.”

If your child is on SSI and feels he or she is blocked from work by a lack of support services, help may be on the way. It will be interesting to see what programs Georgia and other states develop to keep this PROMISE.

Source: Disability Scoop, “Feds Eye Better Outcomes For Kids On SSI,” Shaun Heasley, May 22, 2013