Richmond Youth With Disabilities Gain Job Skills

May marked the graduation of more than 90 Virginia high school students from Project SEARCH, a job training and placement program that serves Virginia students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. More than a third of the students had jobs by the time they completed the program.

Founded in 1966 in Ohio, Project SEARCH matches intellectually and developmentally disabled high school seniors with job training opportunities in the medical and business fields so they’ll be ready for the workplace when they complete high school.

Project SEARCH helps disabled Virginia youth gain experience and career skills in the following ways:

  • Placement at job sites around Virginia gives students workplace experience with a hosting employer.
  • Job coaching and support is provided by local employment service organizations.
  • Program counselors help students succeed at their host organizations, learn independent living skills, and find employment after graduation.

Job readiness services for students with disabilities are a key goal of nationwide efforts to support disabled citizens. In 2010, the Department of Labor reported that only 22% of disabled adults were employed, compared to more than 70% of non-disabled persons in the workforce.

In Virginia, the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services works with local school systems to offer Project SEARCH services to eligible disabled students. Two hospitals in Richmond, VA hosted Project SEARCH students throughout the 2012-2013 school year.

Healthcare is a high-growth economic sector with plenty of demand for workers. With an aging population and continued growth in the healthcare industry, Project SEARCH graduates will have the opportunity to become part of this growing field.

Virginia residents with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities may obtain financial assistance through the Social Security Disability program. Geoff McDonald and Associates, a Richmond law firm, helps clients win Social Security Disability claims. The attorneys at McDonald and Associates focus on disability law and assist clients in obtaining the compensation and support they need to be healthy and successful.