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Developmental Disabilities Services

Percent of Project SEARCH student-interns employed

85%2016

Story Behind the Curve

Job skill acquisition in complex internships arranged by Project SEARCH is achieved through several internship rotations over ten months at the host business. Job placement upon graduation is assured through vigorous job development provided by Project SEARCH staff, Advisory Council members, and the host businesses. For participants not employed at graduation, job development services continue until employment is achieved. There may be times when students go into higher education instead of directly into employment and would, therefore, not be considered employed.

During the first four years of the project, only one SSA and school district were involved with Project SEARCH. While the employment rate was 100%, there were only a total or 2-3 student interns each year. The project expanded in FY 16 to three school districts and two additional developmental disabilities services agencies resulting in total of 20 student interns.

Partners

This initiative is based on a partnership with National Project SEARCH, a model recognized for its effectiveness in preparing youth with developmental disabilities for the workforce. The developmental disabilities services agencies who facilitate Project SEARCH are Lincoln Street Incorporated, Rutland Mental Health Services and HowardCenter. Project SEARCH training programs in FY 16 were hosted by Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Rutland Regional Medical Center and The Edge Sports and Fitness.

The high schools who participated in Project SEARCH are within the South Burlington, Rutland City and Hartford school districts. The Vermont Agency of Education and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation participate on the state and local steering committees along with the Developmental Disabilities Services Division and local developmental disabilities services agencies. In addition, Project SEARCH is monitored by the National Cincinnati Children Hospital Project SEARCH and guided by a local business advocacy council at each site.

What Works

The success of Project SEARCH is founded on a model that provides total immersion across genuine work settings in Vermont businesses. Department heads provide mentoring, training, continuous feedback, and job search references to young workers learning complex skill sets in the real job market. Host sites hire from the internship class and job development in other businesses results in very high employment rates upon graduation from high school or shortly thereafter.

Notes on Methodology
Action Plan

The Developmental Disabilities Services Division will continue provide ongoing support Project SEARCH by continued facilitation of the state and local steering committees. Continued work on securing stable participant school district participation will take place as per the recommendation of the National Project SEARCH audit.

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