VCU-Rehabilitation Research & Training Center
Who We Are
Originally conceived to solve hospital staffing challenges and to increase employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities, this program uses a business model that provides one point of entry for youth with disabilities, streamlines resources for schools and community organizations and becomes a win-win situation for all involved. The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion in the employer agency with a typical day involving onsite classroom instruction in employability and independent living skills, participation at a worksite rotation, lunch with co-workers, and feedback from the instructor.
The implementation of Project SEARCH involves several partners in the community. Collaborators typically include a local public school system, a local hospital, Virginia Department of Education (who provides start-up funding for project implementation), VCU School of Education’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, and the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services.
Project planning begins in Spring of the start-up year. Approximately eight students with significant disabilities begin the program at the host hospital in September. Students are on-site at the hospital during the entire school year and will complete three 10-week rotations in a variety of departments. Students are given support through an onsite public school teacher, a job coach, and work site accommodations to achieve independence.