Interns with special needs land jobs, thanks to Project SEARCH program

News & Innovation

by Baylor Scott & White Health

May 21, 2015

It’s graduation time, which means millions of high school graduates will begin looking for employment out in the real world. But for a handful of students with special needs, they don’t need to worry—they already have a job thanks to Project SEARCH.

College Station ISD, in collaboration with Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station, implemented a new program called Project SEARCH, which helps students with special needs develop job and life skills.

“Through accommodation and support, we’re able to provide opportunities for successful employment,” said Molley Perry, Executive Director for Special Services & Accountability at CSISD.

Project SEARCH recruits graduating seniors who have finished their credits and who are interested in gaining on-the-job training and expanding their skills. Managers match each student up with an individualized employment plan, and they undergo a series of job rotations as an intern. The interns also spend part of their day attending job classes to expand their money management and life skills. They circle back at the end of their day to recap their internship experiences and progress.

The current class has their graduation ceremony this coming Tuesday, May 26.

Corey Leach is the program’s first success story. Corey was the first CSISD Project SEARCH intern to gain employment at Baylor Scott & White Health.

See Corey’s Project SEARCH story here:

Placing Interns for Employment

This school-to-work program helps interns like Corey, many with intellectual disabilities, autism or other health impairments. They are able to rotate through different departments at Baylor Scott & White until they finish the program and are placed with any number of businesses.

After the program’s first year, Perry confirms that all seven interns have confirmed employment upon graduation from the program, only one of which is at Baylor Scott & White. They will continue to provide support to their participants to make sure they will sustain their job and maintain their skills.

Additionally, those at Project SEARCH pair interns with their strengths or something that interests them, rather than making arbitrary assignments. For Corey, he will be employed with the food and nutrition services.

“He’s just really part of the team, I can’t really picture our team without him now,” said Stacey McFerrin, Asst. Director for Food and Nutritional Services at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station.

Future Project SEARCH Endeavors

“I would have to say, it has been nothing but welcoming and inviting to work with all the different folks at Baylor Scott & White,” Perry said. “We are so happy to get on the ground floor as they built their hospital here in the community, and we look forward to continuing our relationship.”

The response of Project SEARCH has been positive in the College Station community, and Baylor Scott & White Health is looking to expand this program to other locations.

Those interested in Project SEARCH, visit Baylor Scott & White Health for more information.

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