74.5% of the Romanian parents/tutors surveyed, 65% from Lithuania and 55% from Portugal need support in motivating their child to get and maintain a paid job
One of the objectives of the project “Labour market Employment for young Adults with a Disability – LEAD” is to provide support for parents/tutors of young adults with disabilities, in order to increase their ability to help their children get and maintain a paid job.
Our colleagues from Health Action Overseas Romania (HAO), Valakupiai Rehabilitation Center (VRC – Lithuania) and Consultis – Consultoria Empresarial, Unipessoal Lda. (Portugal) conducted a laborious analysis using a complex methodology, in order to identify the needs of this social segment. A transnational report was elaborated after the obtained information was processed. This report was the starting point for the elaboration and testing of the training package for family members/tutors of young adults with disabilities who will benefit from the opportunities offered by LEAD project.
A number of 230 parents/tutors of young adults with disabilities, 81 from Romania, 80 from Portugal and 69 from Lithuania took part in this study. Between September and October 2019, 140 of them participated, via Skype, phonecall or face to face meeting, in a semi-structured interview, with 22 questions. Also, 90 parents/tutors completed, by e-mail, a complex questionnaire, with 16 questions.For a clearer picture of the study participants, most parents/tutors have children with learning difficulties (69% of respondents in Portugal) and intellectual disability (45% of respondents in Romania and 28% of respondents in Lithuania). The study also involved parents/tutors of young adults with physical disability (25% of respondents in Lithuania and 24% of respondents in Portugal), autism and Down syndrome (16% and 14% of respondents in Romania, respectively). From these young adults only 10% are employed in Portugal and Lithuania and 7.6% in Romania.
The main objectives of the study were to identify: the parents’ expectations regarding the future of their children after graduating, the information about the labour market which they need and the kind of support which is necessary for parents/tutors to be able to work with their children in order to acquire at home, the skills needed to interact effectively and harmoniously with others. These are vital skills to participate in training programs, integrate in the workplace, gain independence and to actively participate in community life.
Previously, according to the applied methodology, our colleagues identified relevant national stakeholders, both public and private institutions, with activities in the field of social and employment services.Their representatives were invited to express their points of view regarding the tools developed for the study and to disseminate the mentioned questionnaire to the parents/ tutors of their beneficiaries.Also, an extensive research activity was carried out, in order to identify useful studies, and existing good practices in the field.
Regarding the results of the report, the data obtained show that the parents’ expectations regarding the employment of young adults with disabilities in the competitive labour market are high in Romania (46%) and Portugal (44%), while most parents from Lithuania (43%) expect their children to work in a sheltered unit.Overall, the surveyed parents are strongly convinced that the young adults need their support in the employment process. In practice, parents with higher expectations may also have a tendency to believe in their children’s potential to get a job, thus providing them opportunities, support and encouragement to become independent and/or engagingin activities with their children, which leads to an increased understanding of the young adults’abilities.
Another result of the study shows the parents’ contribution to their children employment. Thus, this is much higher in Lithuania (58%) than Romania (30%) or Portugal (25%). The assistance provided consisted in: preparing the CV, preparing the children for the interview and seeking professional guidance and counseling.
Referring to the professional support received by the young adults with disabilities, the data obtained show that in Portugal the Supported Employment services are accessible and known by more than half of the surveyed parents.In contrast, in Romania and Lithuania these services are known by only 26%, respectively 20% of the surveyed parents. At the same time, 74.5% of the parents/tutors interviewed in Romania, 65% from Lithuania and 55% from Portugal answered that they need support to motivate their children to get and maintain a paid job.
Regarding the need for support to teach young adults different skills at home, there were registered significant differences between parents from the three countries. 66% of parents from Portugal considered that they do not need such type of support, while in Lithuania only 35% of parents appreciated that they can manage on their own and in Romania even fewer (32.1%) agreed to this. If we refer to the types of skills needed to be developed, parents from Romania highlighted teamwork and the ability to work well with others (74%); the Lithuanians (71%) and the Portuguese (24%) put the decision-making capacity at the forefront.
Asked what types of activities they would like to take part in, 71% of the Romanian respondents, 48% of the Lithuanian and 33% of the Portuguese expressed their desire to participate in training programs. Also, 64% of the parents/tutors who took part in the study in Romania, 51% from Lithuania and 31% from Portugal replied that they want to join a support group, in order to share their experience and learn new things from the other members of the group.
The authors of the study noted a high motivation among all parents/tutors to obtain up-to-date information about: available programs and services, labour market (work environment, employers’ needs, and the level of salaries), the rights and the responsibilities they have, according to the laws in force, but also to receive practical advice on how to motivate their children to get and maintain a job.
As for parents with children still in school, they said that after their child graduates, they need assistance for better understanding their son’s/daughter’s options of working in the community and living independently. Additionally, the study emphasises that they need more information about their child’s abilities and how they can provide emotional support. Also, they want to meet other parents who have similar needs.