Project SEARCH is trainsition-to-work program

NEWTON. In a county and medical center collaboration, the Project SEARCH Program will help special needs children who are transitioning from high school to work.

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Sussex County Educational Services is pleased to announce its partnership with Atlantic Health Services at Newton Medical Center in the start of a Project SEARCH Program. The Project SEARCH Transition-to-Work Program is a unique, business-led, one-year employment preparation program that takes place entirely at the workplace. Sussex County Educational Services Commission (SCESC) is the educational partner in this exciting new program for students who are special needs and transitioning from high school into the world of work.

This program is accepting applications from students who are in their last year of high school, have met all their graduation requirements but still need an additional year of transitioning to work. The goal for each program participant is competitive employment. To reach that goal, the program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to help young people with significant disabilities make successful transitions to productive adult life. The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of skills training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, skills trainers, and employers. As a result, at the completion of the training program, students with significant intellectual disabilities are employed in nontraditional, complex and rewarding jobs. In addition, the presence of a Project SEARCH program can bring about long-term changes in business culture that have far-reaching positive effects on attitudes about hiring people with disabilities and the range of jobs in which they can be successful.

The total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. The program culminates in individualized job development. SCESC will provide the teacher and a paraprofessional for the program, while partnering with New Jersey Department of Labor- Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Developmental Disabilities. Additional partner agencies include NJ Transit, ENABLE, and other transition agencies supporting students with special needs.

For further information, call 973-579-6980 and ask to speak to Jaime Westerfield, Project SEARCH Coordinator or speak with your child’s case manager at their local public school.

The Sussex County Educational Services Commission (SCESC) is a public-school district located in Sparta. Composed of member school districts and governed by representative Board of Directors from member districts, the Commission is designed to identify needs and provide innovative services to students at both public and nonpublic schools. The SCESC also functions as a resource for schools, families, and the community at large. Professional development programs and workshops for parents and community members provide on-going training opportunities. Northern Hills Academy is a public school that provides programs and services to special needs students who are aged three to twenty-one years old. The school serves Sussex County and beyond, and tailors their programs to meet each student's individual needs. Therapists provide a comprehensive program that can be integrated easily in the classroom. NHA created a classroom that supports natural environment teaching.

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