Goodwill organizations that operate Project SEARCH programs help prepare young people with significant disabilities for success in competitive integrated employment.
Project SEARCH is a one-year training and education program immersed in the workplace, leading to employment for individuals with disabilities.
Modeled on a nationally recognized program developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Project SEARCH provides students ages 18-21 with real-life work experience based on the individual’s preferences and interests.
UPMC Project SEARCH prepares students for competitive employment by teaching:
Students learn basic skills such as stocking, assembling, sanitizing, cleaning, customer service, and how to transport equipment and supplies. Students move through rotations to support various functions. Rotations may include departments such as central distribution, dietary, environmental services, pharmacy, radiology and respiratory.
The Project SEARCH instructor, job trainer, and department mentor all work together to train and coach the student. Tasks are modeled and the student is expected to learn to work independently.
Students gain work experience and develop a variety of marketable skills through rotations. Outcomes include increased independence, confidence and self-esteem. Most importantly, all students leave with either a job at the host site, a job in a related business, or with a team to assist them in obtaining employment.
Some Goodwill organizations provide scholarships for students with disabilities who do not qualify for government-funded rehabilitation programs.
Employment Path Services (Facility and Community):
Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (Portland, OR) has long-term support (LTS) staff that provide participants with support to obtain experience and develop general skills that contribute to competitive employability in the general workforce.
Prior to beginning employment path services, there measurable goals are outlined in a career development plan to support exploration of integrated community employment. These services are offered with a time limit outlined in an individual support plan (ISP) and are expected to occur over an ISP year (or less) with specific goals/outcomes tracked monthly by LTS staff.
Time-limited (3 months), contractual services with the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) includes comprehensive, person-centered and community-based employment planning support to better inform participants seeking individualized jobs in a competitive workplace and to create a discovery profile.
In 2016, the Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (Portland, OR) LTS team took the lead as a vocational provider in complying with the Governor’s Executive Order 13-04 and Employment-First Principles by offering new service opportunities for its participants. These services are described below:
Rappahannock Goodwill Industries (RGI) believes in employment over other alternatives. This is the notion of Employment First for people with significant disabilities. Employment Service Organizations are being encouraged to focus on well-coordinated ongoing supports that make long-term job success possible. The principles of Employment First have been articulated as:
RGI has embraced the concept of Employment First, with four caveats:
Pre-Vocational Skills Program:
Goodwill Industries of East Texas (Tyler) created an approach to promote and teach self-sufficiency skills in the workplace. The Goodwill developed a pre-vocational training program, secured experienced retired school teachers from its local 55 and Older Program, and obtained interns from the University of Texas Health Northeast Physical Therapy Program to work with participants to improve their dexterity. The Goodwill developed an instructional classroom to prepare people with disabilities for work within the community, whether in food services, mail delivery, etc. In addition, they had licensed practitioner counselors on staff to provide therapeutic counseling. They also had a benefit counselor from the Social Security Administration to meet individually with participants and their parents/caregivers to conduct a benefits analysis and explain how many hours they can work before it impacts their benefits.