They have completed a one-year employment preparation
program at their workplace and are now ready for a job in the work force.
We are so proud of the skills they have attained and how
much they have grown over the past year.
Project SEARCH was developed at Cincinnati Children’s
Hospital Medical Center, a research environment that fosters visionary thinking
and innovation. It all began in 1996, when Erin Riehle was Director of
Cincinnati Children’s Emergency Department. Erin felt that, because the hospital
served individuals with developmental disabilities, it made sense that they
should commit to hiring people in this group. She wondered if it would be
possible to train people with developmental disabilities to fill some of the
high-turnover, entry level positions in her department, which involved complex
and systematic tasks such as stocking supply cabinets. As a starting point,
Erin presented her ideas to Susie Rutkowski, then the special education
director at Great Oaks Career Campuses. Erin and Susie formed a partnership
that was instantaneous, and together they launched Project SEARCH.
Each day, students report to the host business, learn
employability skills in the classroom and job skills through their internships
(usually 3-4 internships during the year). Students are encouraged to use
public transportation when available, just as they would when employed after
high school. Students and their teams meet monthly for progress reports and to
continually refine their career goals and determine concrete next steps.
Managers from the host business work with the teacher and job coaches to
support the students every step of the way, with an ultimate goal upon program
completion being the students’ competitive placements at the host business or
in the community, based on the skills and experience learned in their Project
Interested in learning more about Project
SEARCH? Contact Bethesda Senior Director of Transition Services Kris Leonard at