With this statement as a guiding principle, Project SEARCH serves people with disabilities through innovative workforce and career development. Through this process, they also educate employers about the potential of this underutilized workforce while meeting their human resource needs.
Project SEARCH provides employment and education opportunities for transition- aged youth with disabilities through:
- High School Transition Program—A one-year, worksite-based school-to-work program for youths with developmental and/or physical disabilities in their last year of high school eligibility. Worksites include local hospitals or financial institutions.
- Vocational-Education Clinic—A highly individualized approach for Cincinnati Children’s patients with disabilities or chronic illness (ages 14 and older) to address vocational, educational, training and employment goals.
Project SEARCH also provides services for adults and for other organizations:
- Adult Employment Program—Comprehensive employment, job retention, and career advancement services for adults with disabilities. This includes older youth and young adults who have left the public school system.
- Health Care Training Program—Customized short-term training for adults with significant barriers to employment such as major economic disadvantages, or physical and/or learning disabilities.
- Program Replication and Dissemination—Tours, individualized consultation, and group workshops for supported employment and special education professionals.
Program Structure/Design: In the High School Transition Program, high school students who have completed academic course work but have not accepted their diploma or other credentials can finish their high school careers in a structured work-based setting with supports and work-experiences that lead to competitive employment. This one-year program focuses on careers in areas and occupations that have not traditionally been open to individuals with disabilities (health care and banking). Throughout the year, participants move through three to four career rotations in various departments within the hospital or bank. The students choose among the following career clusters: assembly, clerical, courier, patient care, sterilization, stocking, and environmental services. During the rotations, students build skills in communication, teamwork, employability, problems solving, and job-specific skills. Students also have opportunities to work on academic, social, and independent living skills during the course of the day. The program uses public school teachers, vocational rehabilitation staff, and workplace staff to support the participants. The Project Search High School Transition program has an unusual level of collaboration between employers, schools, and vocational rehabilitation services.In the Vocational-Educational Clinic, high school age patients in the hospital receive vocational and educational guidance as part of their on-going care. The patients include young people with chronic illnesses, traumatic injuries, and those with rehabilitation issues. Supported primarily by the project’s in-house vocational-education coordinator, clinic patients keep connected to the home high school and to nearby community resources for as long as necessary during care and treatment. The coordinator can provide services that help with re-entry to high school, that explore or implement GED instruction, and that coordinate services with Tech Prep, Work Study, the Transition Program, or other school/work programs, and adult services (e.g. Rehabilitation Services Commission). The coordinator also can participate in medical care consultations and IEP meetings.