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Employment Rate 100% for Project Search Interns

Employment Rate 100% for Project Search Interns

Tears, joy and elation are some of the emotions Red Clay students in the Project SEARCH program at Christiana Care Hospital express when they see their first job acceptance letter.

Project SEARCH, a nine month school to work job development internship program for students ages 18-21 with cognitive and developmental disabilities has seen a steady increase in the percentage of students who receive job offers when they graduate. For the past two years 100% of the students in the Project SEARCH program were offered a position at Christiana Care or with other community employers.

Since August 2011 students in Red Clay have had a unique opportunity to learn employability skills within the Christiana Care workplace. The students receive classroom instruction and complete three 10 week rotations in the various departments of Christiana Hospital. The nationally recognized program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills to help young adults make a successful transition from school to adult life.

The collaborative partnership includes the Christiana Care Health System, Red Clay Consolidated School District, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Community Integrated Services, Autism Delaware-POW & R, and the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services. This partnership benefits the students, community and the workplace.

Project SEARCH instructor and site coordinator Angela Hansen says, “Project SEARCH allows these motivated young adults the opportunity for meaningful job training in an authentic work environment which prepares them for successful employment in the community. It’s inspiring to see the incredible growth in one short year as our interns build self-esteem and gain independence.”

Red Clay provides student interns who have fulfilled graduation requirements, a special education instructor and paraprofessionals, and related services. The interns participate in monthly employment meetings to define their career goals and plan steps to achieve those goals. Aside from vocational skills some interns earn specific job-related certifications while others learn to use public transportation, open up bank accounts and pay their own bills. Interns participate in recreational activities and social events and are encouraged to give back by supporting Best Buddies and Special Olympics. Parents of interns are provided with opportunities to network and share information about transitioning their young adult from school to work.


The students enjoy going to work and feel they offer a valuable service to the hospital staff. They understand the importance of doing their job carefully and correctly. Staff at the hospital embrace the student interns and make them feel like an integral part of the work environment. When they graduate they are eligible to apply for different positions including patient escorting and food and nutrition.

Project SEARCH, a 2017 Superstars in Education award winning program, helps Red Clay students develop more confidence, learn and practice new skills, meet new friends and refine their employability skills. The goal is for each student to secure competitive employment in the community using the skills he or she has acquired.

Project SEARCH started in 1996 when an emergency room nurse saw the need for vocational educational training programs aimed at helping young people with disabilities. Today there are over 230 Project SEARCH programs across the United States and in other countries. Real-life work experience, combined with training in employability and independent living helps these young adults experience a seamless transition to a productive adult life.


April 11, 2017