ACF Celebrates First Project SEARCH Graduating Class of 2011

June 13, 2011
Contact: Kenneth J. Wolfe
(202) 401-9215

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF), along with the Department of Education (DoED) and the Department of Labor (DOL) is honored to celebrate the graduation of 25 students from the Project SEARCH Program.  Project SEARCH is a transition-to-work, skills training program for students with disabilities who are in their last year of high school.  The three federal agencies will hold a traditional graduation ceremony on June 15, 2011, with five of the students being the first students to complete the ACF Project SEARCH Program.   

“The Project SEARCH program is one way of strengthening educational opportunities, increasing diversity and employing more individuals with disabilities,” said David A. Hansell, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. “I congratulate every student on a job well done, and I am optimistic about their ability to work in a competitive environment.”  

Project SEARCH is considered a national “best practice” model.  Under a memorandum agreement with the District of Columbia Public Schools, the District of Columbia Department on Disability Services and the Rehabilitation Services Administration, ACF provides D.C. Public School students ages 18 to 21 with internships for a full academic year beginning late August thru mid-June.  During this time, they participate in three 10-week internships, which teach them competitive and marketable skills that lead to employment in the government and the public and private sectors. 

Student interns receive daily support from their instructors, job coaches, and mentors within the federal agencies.  Teachers and job coaches also design accommodations and adaptations that assist the students in learning the tasks, matching their learning styles, and fitting the work environment.   

“Students have the opportunity to master real workplace skills, learn to solve problems, and develop work habits and workplace etiquette that would be valued in any work setting,” said Laverdia Roach, director of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.


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