Program helps individuals with disabilities gain employment
A group of area high school students with disabilities is receiving training and employment opportunities through a new initiative called Project SEARCH at UnityPoint Health® – Trinity. Project SEARCH is in partnership with North Scott, Bettendorf, and Pleasant Valley school districts, and local area support agencies Goodwill, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency.
The program uses classroom instruction coupled with workplace internships to prepare individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities for competitive employment. A successful outcome for our interns is employment in an integrated setting (working alongside coworkers with or without disabilities), year-round work of 16 hours per week or more, and pay of minimum wage or higher.
Project SEARCH began in 1996 at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio. In 20 years, the program has expanded to more than 400 locations throughout the United States and internationally. This is the first Project SEARCH program in the Quad Cities area.
There are currently seven individuals participating in the nine-month program at UnityPoint Health® – Trinity Bettendorf. Our interns complete three weeks of orientation before three individualized worksite internships, each lasting ten weeks. Each intern is honing their skills alongside UnityPoint Health® – Trinity employees who are providing mentorship, guidance, training, and support in a real workplace environment, an atmosphere that no classroom can replicate.
Project SEARCH was developed to address the critical unemployment rates that adults with mental or physical disabilities face. In 2015, the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 10.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Project SEARCH's goal is to decrease the unemployment rate by giving interns an opportunity to develop important job skills needed to be gainfully employed. Last year, 83% of Project SEARCH graduates were able to earn jobs within a year of completing the internship program.
North Scott, Bettendorf, and Pleasant Valley school districts came together under the common goal of doing more to help students with disabilities beyond the classroom. Of the current class, four interns were selected from Bettendorf High School, two from North Scott High School, and two from Pleasant Valley High School. Students will graduate from Project SEARCH on May 26th, 2017.
Project SEARCH also aligns with UnityPoint Health® - Trinity's vision and values. Trinity was an early adopter and supporter of the Q2030 Regional Action Plan. Project SEARCH is one more example of Trinity's commitment to the improved prosperity of the Quad Cities region.
Local Media Coverage:
Quad City Times
WQAD News 8
Project SEARCH 2017 Graduation
Learn more about our Project SEARCH programs on Facebook.