Frequently Asked Questions

The consent form must be completed for you to be a part of the study. Once you and your parent or guardian have completed this form, a computer program will randomly assign you to one of the two study groups. The group you are assigned to will determine what services you may be able to access. Only if you are assigned to the PROMISE Program Group will you be able to receive PROMISE services.

Yes, you and your parent/guardian may complete and sign the form later (within the two year enrollment period) if you wish. However, you may access only the usually available services until you and your parent/guardian have completed the form and your study group has been determined.

The consent form is your way of telling us that you understand what it means to be in the study and that you agree to take part in it. If you don’t sign it, you can’t be in the study. By signing the form, you are agreeing to being contacted for two follow-up surveys, providing your Social Security Number for tracking your disability benefits and other records, including the records of several state-run programs. This information will be used for research purposes only. Your personal information will not be publicly revealed.

You will not be included in the study, which means that you will have no chance of receiving PROMISE services. However, you will be able to access other services as you normally would.

If you don’t provide your SSN, you can’t be in the study. It’s important that you provide your SSN so that the study team has an understanding of your background and the government services and benefits you receive. Let me reassure you that your SSN and all of the other information that is requested on the consent form will be treated confidentially.

No, your participation in the study is voluntary. If you decide not to participate, you will still be able to access other services as you normally would.

Yes, you may quit the study at any time by sending a letter to the PROMISE program director for your state. If you do quit the study, you will no longer be eligible for PROMISE services. However, you will be able to access other services as you normally would. 

The CaPROMISE is administering the study. PROMISE is supported by the U.S. Department of Education and the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration has hired Mathematica Policy Research, a private contract research firm that has conducted many major studies of government programs, to conduct the national study of the PROMISE demonstration programs.

The goals of the Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income PROMISE demonstration programs are to improve the provision and coordination of services and supports for youth Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and their families. Ultimately, the programs aim to improve educational attainment, employment, and other outcomes for SSI youth and their families. The national evaluation will assess how the programs are implemented and whether these goals are achieved.

You have a 50 percent chance of being assigned to each study group.

Youth are assigned to the study groups by a computer program. The assignments are completely random; PROMISE staff have no control over them. Every youth who enrolls in the study has the same chance of being assigned to one of the study groups, and nobody has an advantage. The groups that youth are assigned to are not affected in any way by their race, gender, age, or other personal characteristics.

Assigning people to groups randomly is like picking names out of a hat or flipping a coin, so that everyone will be fairly treated. This way, everyone has the same chance of being in one of the two study groups. Remember, the decision about which group you are assigned to has nothing to do with things like your age, gender, race, ethnic group, or disability.

You will find out up to 2-3 business days, if not earlier, after you submit your completed and signed consent form through a letter that will be handed to you and by an accompanying verbal description, or you will find out several days later through a letter that will be mailed to you.

The two surveys that will be conducted as part of the national evaluation will ask about the services that you may receive from the PROMISE program and from any other programs or community organizations. They will also ask about education or training programs that you may participate in after enrolling in the study and  jobs you may obtain. This will help the study team to pinpoint how effective PROMISE services truly are. The answers you provide will not be shared with anyone outside of the national study team—including PROMISE staff members—unless required by law. You will not be identified by name or in any other way in any study reports.

12,000 youth are expected to enroll in the evaluation and the study team expects to interview almost all of them twice.

You will be surveyed 18 months after you are placed into one of the two study groups, and then again five years after placement.

You and your parent/guardian will both receive $10 gift cards (to Target or Amazon) for completing each survey. 

Participation in the surveys is voluntary. We hope that you will participate, but if you wish to participate in the study but not the surveys, that is okay.

The study team will follow strict rules to ensure that your information will be kept safe and secure. It will never be shared with anyone outside of the study team unless required by law.

The surveys will be conducted primarily by telephone by interviewers employed by the study team. In some instances, the surveys may be conducted in person or via the Internet.

No, you cannot switch groups or apply again if you don’t like the group you are assigned to.

Even if PROMISE services were not provided randomly, services would not be made available to everyone. Funding for PROMISE is limited, so even if the study were not taking place, not everyone who is eligible could receive PROMISE services. Because funding is limited, the fairest way to choose who will receive PROMISE services—among those who are eligible—is to pick them randomly. That way, everyone has an equal chance of receiving these services.

In addition, because of the importance of determining whether the PROMISE programs actually improve outcomes for youth and their families, this study is being run like a medicine trial. The only way to know whether a medicine is effective is to give it to some people and not to others and then to study the results. The PROMISE study is following this approach. It will randomly assign  youth who enroll in the study to two groups, using a process like a lottery. Half of the youth will be eligible for PROMISE services and the other half will not. Running a study like this is the best way to determine whether a new set of services is more effective that the previously existing services.

Being in the program group means that the study will not restrict in any way the services that you may receive. However, you will only be able to access the PROMISE services that your CSC determines that you need (based on assessments and discussions with you) and which are available.

No, you will not be required to participate in any services that you do not want.

No, you will be free to seek services as you normally would from other programs in your community. However, you will not be able to receive PROMISE services.

If you move from one participating service area to another, you will continue to be eligible for either PROMISE/ASPIRE or usual services based on your group assignment. If you are in the program group and move to a location that is not participating the study, you will still be in the evaluation but you will no longer receive PROMISE services. If you are in the program group and move to a location that is geographically close to a PROMISE service area and can manage the logistics, you can continue to receive PROMISE/ASPIRE services.

In general, program group members will receive employment services, education support, and benefits counseling. However, youth in the program group will work with their assigned Career Service Coordinator (CSC) to develop plans for the specific services that they will receive.

Members of the usual services group will not be eligible for PROMISE services, but they will be able to receive other services available in their communities for which they might be eligible. The PROMISE program will provide these youth with a handout identifying such services.

There are two study groups because we want to learn whether PROMISE services are more effective than usual services at improving outcomes such as educational progress and employment. By randomly assigning eligible youth to a program group and a usual services group, we can track and compare outcomes for these two groups to assess the effectiveness of PROMISE services.