Project SEARCH is a comprehensive approach to employment training and career advancement for individuals with developmental disabilities. The program provides real world skills training through a series of internships, all designed to teach marketable skills that will transfer to a variety of employment settings.
In the Monadnock region, the program takes place at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth Hitchcock-Keene (CMC/DH-K). CMC/DH-K offers a wide variety of opportunities for employment training, from clinical to stocking to housekeeping to office tasks. The program runs Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; it follows the Keene School District calendar and, including vacations, lasts 42 weeks.
Project SEARCH participants are students (interns) with disabilities in their last year of high school eligibility or have graduated from high school and whose main goal is employment. The program lasts one school year. As part of the competitive application process, interested candidates must apply and interview in order to be considered for acceptance. Those accepted learn employability and technical skills by participating in three internship rotations. During the program, individualized career development and job placement services are provided based on the intern's experiences, strengths and skills. Interns are given support with accommodation, adaptations and on-the-job coaching. Total immersion in the workplace facilitates the teaching and learning process through continuous feedback and the application of new skills.
Project SEARCH Background
Project SEARCH (Students Exploring Alternative Resources Children's Hospital) originated at the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati in 1996. The hospital wanted to diversify its workforce and create an opportunity for individuals with developmental disabilities to obtain marketable employment skills. Since then, Project SEARCH has grown to more than 200 sites across the U.S. and in four other countries. There are six Project SEARCH sites in New Hampshire.
In the Monadnock Region Project SEARCH partners are Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth Hitchcock-Keene, the Keene School District, Monadnock Developmental Services, Monadnock Center for Successful Transitions, and NH Vocational Rehabilitation.
Project SEARCH is a job training program for individuals receiving services from Monadnock Developmental Services who are interested in skills training in order to find work. The program takes place Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the campus of Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth Hitchcock-Keene (CMC/DH-K). The foundation of this training program is real work experience. Participants receive skills training through a series of unpaid internships at CMC/DH-K while receiving individualized training and job placement support.
Interested candidates must apply to and be accepted into the program.
Applicants must meet the following criteria:
1. Be either a minimum of 20 years old and in the last year of high school eligibility; or between 21 and 36 years old and currently receiving services from MDS (Transitioning students are given enrollment priority);
2. Be interested in working in a variety of fields;
3. Want to be employed at least 20 hours a week;
4. Have reliable transportation;
5. Be eligible for services with Monadnock Developmental Services and NH Vocational Rehabilitation
6. Pass a criminal record check, including misdemeanor and felony.
Training Program Overview
Students accepted into Project SEARCH are considered Interns. The training program lasts one school year and follows the Keene School District calendar. Interns work with a certified Special Education teacher and vocational trainers. Learning takes place through internships and in the Project SEARCH classroom at CMC/DH-K. Combining internships with classroom learning allows Interns to master the skills they need for employment.
Internships are the cornerstone of Project SEARCH. Interns rotate through three of unpaid internships during the course of the program. Internships are structured to teach complex but systematic skills that are marketable and needed in the workforce.
The teacher and vocational trainers work with the CMC/DH-K staff to ensure that internships meet each student’s interests and abilities. Vocational trainers assist the Interns as they learn the jobs.