Project SEARCH Helps Teens Find Meaningful Work


Finding work is one of the most challenging goals a person will face in their lifetime—not just landing a job, but one that is challenging and edifying. People with disabilities face an even more daunting task, as finding a job—any job—is often seen as an end in itself, without thought to whether or not it satisfies and enriches the individual.

Project SEARCH is a program developed by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to help train young adults with developmental disabilities to work in a medical setting. This one-year, school-to-work program immerses students in the day-to-day culture of a hospital, and includes training in a classroom and on the job.

Developed in 1996, Project SEARCH originally sought to “train people with developmental disabilities to fill some of the high-turnover, entry level positions… which involved complex and systematic tasks such as stocking supply cabinets.” Today, Project SEARCH can be found in over 300 cities in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia. As its webpage states, “Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.”

Project SEARCH students work a full academic year, are on site for at least six hours a school day for at least 20 hours a week, and are guaranteed at least minimum wage, though they are often paid more.

Students engaged in Project SEARCH will find at the participating hospital or medical facility an on-site classroom (with no more than a dozen students at a time), a special education teacher, and one to three job coaches. The students not only learn the work at hand, but receive hands-on skill assessment, and craft a career plan to help guide them to a satisfying job.

Helping people find meaningful work en route to an independent life is a main priority of employment specialists like the ones at Project SEARCH. The DirectCourse/College of Employment Servicesonline curriculum, including courses such as Strategies for Job Development, helps employment specialists create opportunities for people with disabilities.

Learn more about the College of Employment Services here.

Share Button