Program helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities transition to work
EVENT: Palmetto Health, District 5 of Lexington and Richland Counties and SC Vocational Rehabilitation have collaborated since 2015 to bring Project SEARCH to teens in the Midlands with special needs. Project SEARCH is a business-led school-to-work transition model with demonstrated success in developing internships for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in their last year of high school.
The program helps lead the interns into integrated and competitive employment with prevailing wages. Interns from the school district were carefully selected after a thorough interview process. The program is targeted to students whose main goal is competitive employment. The interns attend the program for the full school year at Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge where they will learn about a multitude of jobs at the hospital. The interns will be assisted and taught by job coaches from District 5 of Lexington and Richland Counties and SC Vocational Rehabilitation.
Kathryn Harris, Experience/Operations business manager at Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, said “I cannot imagine Palmetto Health without the Project SEARCH program. It fits exactly with who we are and what we do for our patients, families and team members. Our culture has positively benefited from having the program. Our team members become friends with our interns and enjoy mentoring them. The interns bring so much joy and light to the workplace. It’s contagious!”
Friday’s graduation is a culmination of the students’ work as they transition to find employment. Since this partnership started in 2015, 18 interns have completed the program and four of them still work at the hospital. Two of this year’s class have been hired so there will be six from the program employed.
WHEN: Friday, June 1
TIME: 9-11 a.m.
WHERE: Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, 400 Palmetto Health Parkway, Birch and Cedar classrooms, first floor
WHY: Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration and hands-on training through worksite rotations. South Carolinians with intellectual and developmental disabilities continue to experience higher unemployment rates than South Carolinians who do not have disabilities. Parents of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities also report that the transition from high school to a career is a particularly difficult, involved and confusing process. Project SEARCH aims to ease the transition for interns and their families.