First, make sure you have all your partners represented and on board to begin the program:
- Education: School District, Career Technical School, Educational Service Center, etc.
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Community Rehabilitation Partner (provider of job coaching and job development)
- Developmental Disabilities Agency or Mental Health Provider (for follow along services)
- Host Business (could begin planning process before business is identified)
Second, coordinate a local meeting with all the partners represented. Begin with an overview of the Project SEARCH model (you could use the Project SEARCH DVD). Use the meeting to ensure all partners are committed to implementing the program.
Third, once all the partners are committed, one of the partners needs to sign the Project SEARCH licensing agreement. Contact us at ProjectSEARCH@cchmc.org
Fourth, a Project SEARCH International Support team member from Cincinnati can present to your local partners to increase knowledge and generate excitement about the program. (There is a cost for this technical assistance.) This presentation could also include:
- A presentation to the proposed host business and the administration of other partner organizations, such as a school board
- A meeting with all local community partners to provide education about Project SEARCH and generate buy-in
At this stage, technical assistance from the International Support Team can continue, as needed, to facilitate the implementation of a Project SEARCH program in your area. You will receive all Project SEARCH materials and documents once the licensing agreement is signed.
Once the business partner is identified, it takes about six to eight months. It is ideal to have one year for the planning team to work together for a successful implementation. Most programs begin operation in late August so a team should start meeting, at the latest, by January of the year they want to begin. We suggest that you identify an Advisory/Planning Team that meets at least monthly. Partner organizations should be represented (especially the host business) on the Advisory Team. The Team could also include a parent, a young adult with a disability and other community members such as the WIA Board, University Center for Excellence, etc.
||Personnel and Supports
||Source of Funding
||Instructor, curriculum, supplies (sometimes a Teacher's Assistant or para-professional)
|FTE for each student from state and local funding. (need 8-12 students to pay for instructor)
|Sponsors students to support job coaching and job development
|State/Federal funding - Students must be eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation
|Community Rehabilitation Partner
||Provides job coaching and job development
||Vocational Rehabilitation, Medicaid, etc.
|Developmental Disability Agency (Long-Term Service Provider)
||Provides long-term employment support for retention and career advancement
- Possible sources:
- Medicaid Waiver
- DD Support
- CMH Board
||Business Liaison (10% FTE); onsite classroom/training room; internships sites; hosting of some marketing events, such as open houses
||In-Kind Human Resources
Yes, the instructor needs to be on site at the host business all day. He/she is the on-site coordinator and an integral part of the team. His/her role would be similar to a case manager for the Project SEARCH students. Duties include:
- Planing and teaching the Employability Skills curriculum
- Assisting the students with resume and portfolio development
- Coordinating and implement the monthly Employment Planning meetings
- Coordinating the Family Involvement curriculum with the Family Liaison and other family members
- Developing internship sites with the business liaison and job coach
- Ensuring that the students learn competitive, marketable skills and achieve maximum productivity and quality during their internships
- Developing work accommodations and work aids with the job coach
- Evaluating the student progress and fill out required documentation
- Providing employer education about disability awareness and supervise people iwht disabilities
- Recruiting students for the next Project SEARCH class
- Ensuring that all students are eligible for VR; long-term support; SSI; and other appropriate community, state, and federal supports
- Advocating for and facilitating internal job development at the host business
- Marketing the program within the host business and to the wider community
This graph shows the approximate amount of time that the instructor will spend on the various Project SEARCH-related activities.The activities and time allotted will vary depending on the time of year.
Yes, the students arrive directly to the host business via public transportation (if available in your community) or other independent means (i.e. not a school bus). If possible, they should not report to the high school for any reason. Their school day includes approximately 1.5 hours of the Employability Skills curriculum and 5 hours at their internship (including lunch and travel time to the internship sites). To be eligible, the students should be finished with their high school credit requirements for graduation, certification, or completion so that they will be able to focus their entire day on learning competitive and marketable skills.
Typical Project SEARCH Daily Schedule
7:50 Arrival at host business site
8:00 Employability Skills curriculum
9:00 Internships - learning competitive, marketable skills
12:00 Internships (continued)
2:00 Return to classroom, review of day, journaling
2:30 Adjournment for the day
Annual School Schedule showing the major components of the program
Students need to be at least 18 years old to be considered for the program. Most students are between the ages of 18 and 22.
The program is designed for transition-aged youth. Many communities would also like to extend this training opportunity to young adults who have graduated but are not working. Project SEARCH classes typically include 10 to 12 students. Young adults who are beyond high school eligibility could fill any open spaces. These individuals may be sponsored by Vocational Rehabilitation, Medicaid, WIA, or a DD agency, or they could pay privately. Adult candidates need to go through the same application process as the students, including interviews, assessments, etc.
The goal of the program for each student is competitive employment. A student can accept a job offer during the school year if a good job match is found (at the host site or elsewhere in the community) and the IEP team is in agreement. At this time, the student becomes an employee and assumes an employee's schedule. For reporting and insurance purposes, the intern can maintain student status for the remainder of the school year.
Project SEARCH is designed to give students the opportunity to have a variety of work experiences, to explore different careers, and to learn competitive work skills in a wide range of settings. This process helps to refine each student's career goal and to prepare each student for employment. However, if a student can gain additional marketable skills and if there is a strong possibility being offered a competitive job, it is often productive for a student to do multiple rotations at a single internship site.
Students should have their necessary classes completed before entering a Project SEARCH program. However, if students need one or two classes and the Project SEARCH Instructor is qualified to deliver the credit within the Project SEARCH program, school districts might make an exception.
Wherever public transportation is available, Project SEARCH programs should take advantage of this resource. Vocational Rehabilitation, the school district and other partners can work together to provide travel training before the program begins. Some students may be eligible for a para-transit system. Even though students with disabilities are entitled to school transportation, Project SEARCH strongly recommends that students use this transition year to learn to navigate the public transportation system independently. For families that need assistance, the school can purchase the bus fare. In rural communities, the school may need to run buses to the host business.
Our research has shown that about a third of the students are usually hired at the host business. The other students will need to find employment in the community using the skills they learn from the internship experiences. The partners partners the school, Vocational Rehabilitation, families, and the Community Rehabilitation Partner (CRP), should work together during the program-planning period to design the job-placement procedures. The Project SEARCH instructor will be able to find jobs for students who are a good job match for the host business. The CRP often takes the lead in job searches for the remaining Project SEARCH interns.