The Project SEARCH Story
In 1996, while working as the Director of the Emergency Department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Erin Riehle was frustrated with the high turnover rate in entry-level jobs that involved restocking supplies.
Simultaneously, Cincinnati Children's had adopted a major diversity initiative, taking a policy statement from the American College of Healthcare Executives, which read, "Healthcare organizations must lead their communities in increasing employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities and advocate on behalf of their employment to other organizations." Erin wondered if people with disabilities could fill the entry level jobs she had. Not knowing anyone with a disability she turned to Great Oaks Career Campuses and the Hamilton County Board of Developmental Disability Services and asked if her idea was possible. Together with these organizations the idea of filling a handful of jobs in Cincinnati Children's Emergency Department evolved into a comprehensive program model-Project SEARCH.
Never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others. Job training programs are critical for our youth with disabilities seeking employment. With this debut of the first Project SEARCH site on Florida's west coast, the collaboration between PARC, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and Pinellas County Schools will be the difference for students with disabilities to succeed as they transition into the workplace.
Karen Higgens, President & CEO, PARC
Project SEARCH has grown from one original program site at Cincinnati Children's to 286 sites across 42 states and four countries. National and international business partners include: Cleveland Clinic, Health First in Melbourne, Rosen Shingle Creek (Orlando), Zoo Miami, Fifth Third Bank, Wal-Mart Distribution Centers, National Institute of Health - Clinical Center, Smithsonian, Xavier University, Medtronic, The Federal Department of the Interior, McConnell Air Force Base, Indiana State Government, Emory Midtown Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Embassy Suites, BWI Hilton, The University of Rochester Medical Center and more than 30 sites in the UK.
Project SEARCH Partners
PARC offers more than 40 unique services to 800 children and adults with developmental disabilities in the Tampa Bay area. As a strong advocate on the local, state and national levels, PARC's mission is to provide opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities to exercise their independence and experience life to the fullest.
Florida Vocational Rehabilitation is a federal-state program that helps people who have physical or mental disabilities get or keep a job. VR is committed to helping people with disabilities find meaningful careers.
Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital is the most advanced children's hospital on Florida's west coast and a U.S. News & World Report Best Children's Hospital, ranking in the top 50 in three specialty areas. With over 50 pediatric specialties and 259 beds, Johns Hopkins All Children's is dedicated to advancing children's health through treatment, research, education and advocacy. A network of 11 outpatient care centers in eight counties along with affiliate programs at regional hospitals makes Johns Hopkins All Children's a leading provider of care for Florida's children.
Pinellas County Schools serves approximately 13,600 students with disabilities and 6,200 students who are gifted. The mission of Exceptional Student Education (ESE) is to provide quality services that support effective learning opportunities for all exceptional children. Pinellas County Schools provides a full continuum of services, which include but are not limited to educational, vocational and behavioral support, to meet the needs of eligible students while allowing access to general education instruction with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate for each student.
Download the Project SEARCH Flyer