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Project SEARCH Provides Special Needs Job Training

Parents of children with disabilities know that finding future employment for their kid is always a concern. Since every child is different, finding an employer that is patient and willing to train special needs employees isn’t easy. However, Overlook Medical Center in New Jersey is addressing this concern and providing students with invaluable employment experiences.

While visiting the North Ward Center for the “Autism: A Different Way of Thinking” forum, Steve Adubato, PhD., spoke with Cornelia Gilpin, nurse manager at Summit’s Overlook Medical Center, Atlantic Health System. The two discussed the Project SEARCH program and how it provides on-the-job training for students with special needs.


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Project Search Provides Job Training For Special Needs Students

Project SEARCH was developed more than two decades ago at a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. The goal is to train those with developmental disabilities to work high-turnover, entry-level jobs. The jobs would involve real responsibilities while also offering practical training and educational value.

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“Some of the things that they can learn,” says Gilpin, “are repeatable tasks. For example, the variety of programs that we have the students work with are human resources… environmental services… libraries… (and) they’ve also worked in our foundation.”

Project SEARCH helps students develop real-life work experience as well as independent-living skills. Eligible participants include those who are on an Individual Education Program (IEP) and in their last year of high school.

Gilpin explains there is a lot of misinformation about how much these students can handle and how well they perform. Potential employers often ask “What can they do?” and “How can I interact with them?”

“Where this program is helpful,” Gilpin explains, “is that it allows employers to realize what these individuals with disabilities can do.”

But the program helps students beyond just giving them these hands-on experiences. Overlook Medical Center, in collaboration with Project SEARCH, also assists by organizing job fairs. In fact, in many cases the program extends even deeper than that.

Want to learn more about Project SEARCH and how Overlook Medical Center takes part in it? Don’t miss this edition of One-on-One with Steve Adubato.


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