Pennsylvania's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to Continue "Project SEARCH" Program Without Federal Funding

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Labor & Industry's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation will continue its "Project SEARCH" program for young people with significant disabilities through the use of traditional vocational rehabilitation funding, the department announced today.

The federal grant, which provided 100 percent of the funding needed during the pilot program, ends in September 30, 2013.

"Project SEARCH'' is a national model to develop good-paying jobs with benefits for secondary school graduating students with the most significant disabilities.

The program has been piloted in Pennsylvania since October 2007 when the grant was first available. During that time, 239 students at 10 sites across the state have successfully completed the program. Of those, 100 have been successfully employed; 108 continue to participate.

"Governor Corbett is committed to helping people with disabilities and this vital program helps high school students with the most challenging needs. It would have been devastating to have to eliminate this program because of lost federal funds," Labor & Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway said.

"Given its demonstrated effectiveness, we are committed to continuing this innovative jobs program for young adults with disabilities. The results have been positive not only for the students but for the employers as well," Hearthway said.

"Project SEARCH'' provides on-site education services at host employers for students ready to transition from secondary education to the workforce. About 80 percent of each day is spent working on a rotation in various departments. A student participates in at least three rotations over the course of the school year. Students also become involved in corporate community service and social activities.

In addition to the employer and district OVR office, a "Project SEARCH'' site involves a number of local partners, including local high schools, intermediate units, and county mental health and intellectual disability offices. 

Students not hired by the host employer work with an Office of Vocational Rehabilitation counselor to continue their job search. Graduates of "Project SEARCH'' have been hired in such diverse areas as phlebotomy, renal dialysis, pathology lab, and surgical implement sterilization.

Media contact: Sara Goulet, 717-787-7530

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry



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