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Job Program for Youth with Disabilities to be Highlighted October 20 at AAP Annual Meeting


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On the first day of school this fall, 12 Washington, D.C., students with disabilities reported to the U.S. Department of Labor, rather than their public school, to participate in Project SEARCH, an education and job training program for young people with disabilities of varying severity.

The program is the first project of its kind in the federal government, but it’s just the latest example of a government or organization adopting Project SEARCH since it was founded at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 11 years ago.

Project SEARCH Cincinnati has helped start more than 140 Project SEARCH sites across the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The Cincinnati project has secured jobs for students in private industry and in local city governments and has worked to provide an 80 percent employment rate for its students within three months of completing the program.

Erin Riehle, RN, founded Project SEARCH after the American College of Healthcare Executives adopted a policy statement that "...healthcare executives must take the lead in their organizations to increase employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities and to advocate on behalf of their employment to other organizations in their communities." With this statement as a guiding principle, Project SEARCH educates employers about the potential of this underutilized workforce while meeting their human resource needs.

Students in Project SEARCH work to develop employability skills for specific job tasks. They also learn about workplace expectations, such as how to communicate with a supervisor, interviewing skills and resume development. Students rotate through internships and receive continual feedback.

Riehle will present “Project SEARCH: Demonstrating That Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Can Do Complex Jobs” from 11:10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 20, at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656, jim.feuer@cchmc.org