[Excerpt] Having characterized the intermediary approach from published literature, as well as impressions of those who are using this approach in their demonstration projects, and reviewed ODEP’s requirements regarding implementation of the intermediary approach, Westat determined that the intermediary approaches required in the SGAs for the State Intermediary and Faith-based Mentoring demonstration programs have much in common with other ODEP demonstration programs. Other ODEP programs require demonstration projects to partner and collaborate with businesses and business organizations, government, transportation systems, and health and other service providers. They also have goals for ensuring quality and impact and promoting policies to sustain effective practices. The difference, however, is that the State Intermediary and Faith-based mentoring SGAs specifically identified the intermediary approach as the strategy to use. The State Intermediary SGA went even further by delineating specific steps as part of the intermediary process (resource mapping and development of a state plan).
Our literature review uncovered a wide variety of examples in which the intermediary approach has achieved useful outcomes on behalf of youth with disabilities. However, all literature we found was descriptive and did not address questions on effectiveness or the most appropriate strategies. Therefore, it is not known whether the intermediary approach is the most fruitful approach for achieving systems change, whether there are some intermediary approaches that are better than others, or whether those approaches would be repeatable and adaptable to other environments.
Nevertheless, at our three site visits, we were able to uncover a variety of examples of activities that are consistent with intermediary strategic and operational functions identified in the literature and appear to bode well for success in achieving systems change. Further review of Quarterly Reports and findings from site visits also revealed some systems change already taking place in the systems change focus areas of capacity-building, coordination, consumer choice and employer support, and evaluation of new practices. Subsequent site visits in Phase IV of the independent evaluation are likely to uncover additional examples of intermediary processes, outputs, and outcomes, as well as those practices that appear to be most successful in achieving systems change.