As the end of August nears, most high school students begin to purchase new school clothes and supplies. However, since the fall of 2010 individuals with disabilities at several St. Charles County high schools begin to prepare for their school year in a different way. They prepare for Project SEARCH.
To do this the students are looking for business casual and business professional clothing instead of their usual jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. They also begin to report to the Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital (BJSPH) campus instead of their high school.
Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital was the first Project SEARCH site for the state of Missouri and the first Missouri business to serve as sponsoring organization for the program. Project SEARCH is a national, nine-month transition program targeting young adults 18-20 with developmental disabilities. Its primary goal is to help prepare participants for employment by spending seven hours each day in a high-status sponsoring business.
As a sponsoring business, BJSPH provides meeting space for classroom instruction and on-the-job training for up to 10 interns by providing internship locations and mentorship. The Project SEARCH partners provide a special education certified classroom instructor, two to three employment advisors (also known as job coaches), and ongoing support to interns for job placement and job support after completing the program.
Each department that participates in the program is responsible for assigning job duties and providing two employees to serve as the primary and secondary mentors for each intern. The following departments are departments interns can choose from to complete their internships:
- Environmental Services
- Medical Staff Services
- Occupational Health
- Physical Therapy
- Volunteer Services
- In-patient Nursing
- Health Information Management
Between internship rotations interns work in the classroom setting learning such skills as:
- Job application completion
- Resume writing
- Work place social skills
The instructor is provided by the Orchard Farm School district and is a certified special education teacher. This individual is called an ‘instructor’ and they provide supervision and support on site and during the classroom activities, and meets and supports the interns each day before and after their work shift. The employment advisors are provided by Easter Seals Midwest and Orchard Farm School District and serve at the beginning of each internship providing 100% support and face as the interns learn their job duties.
In the fall of 2014 Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital was awarded the Inclusive Employer of the year award by the Show-Me-Careers committee. The hospital was honored at a banquet put on by the committee and were recognized for their commitment to inclusive employment. This award was presented in October which is Inclusive Employment Awareness Month.
Beginning the 2015-2016 school year the program will take applications from young adult applicants as part of a new hybrid model. These applicants must be between the age of 18-23. They can be referred by a case manager or parent.
The goal of the hybrid model is to reach students who may have not been able to participate in the program as a high school student and still find themselves in need of job skills training. Following the same process as the high school applicants each spring after the completion of the high school student application process the remaining program spots will be given to individuals who meet the adult or ‘hybrid’ requirements. For information on the Hybrid Project SEARCH program and applications please contact Jane Skinner 314-567-8124.
The Project SEARCH program has been replicated in 40 states and 5 countries. For more information about his program please call 636-916-7168.
Thank you to Our Project SEARCH Partners:
-Developmental Disabilities Resource Board (DDRB)
-Easter Seals Midwest
-Francis Howell School District
-City of St. Charles School District
-Orchard Farm School District