Skip to main content

Project Search

Afternoon Session ~

"Project Search in Michigan - How programs are serving individuals with ASD"

Transition to employment studies have shown that, despite intensive intervention in special education programs, youth with ASD have poor outcomes related to employment upon graduation from high school. In fact, unemployment and underemployment is a chronic problem for youth with ASD, with unemployment rates varying from 80% to 95%.

Project SEARCH is an intensive 9-month job training program where youth with developmental disabilities in their last year of high school are embedded in a large community business, such as a hospital, government complex, or banking center. Students with ASD who participate in this model rotate through three 10-12 week internships within the business, where they log approximately 720 hours of internship time learning marketable skills and 180 hours of classroom time at the business for a total of approximately 900 embedded hours. In addition to these important training components, Project SEARCH requires collaboration between multiple community partners to support youth in attaining employment upon completion of the program. The project is a collaborative model between students with ASD and their family members, a local education agency (LEA), a local community rehabilitation program (CRP), the state vocational rehabilitation program (VR), and a host business.

Learning Objectives:

After attending this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • identify facts and statistics around Project Search nationally and in Michigan
  • better understand how Project Search has been a successful model for individuals with ASD
  • be introduced to the Oakland County Project Search Collaborative between - Education /Mental Health/ Vocational Rehab
  • identify strategies and supports of 2 students with ASD and their families participating in the 2013/14 model at Beaumont Hospital Troy

About the Presenters ~

Cathy Schmidt- Consultant, Oakland Schools
Cathy joined the Oakland Schools team in 2004 as a Special Education Consultant, working with over 30 local districts and public school academies in the areas of secondary compliance and transition. As the Oakland Schools liaison to the 50 member Oakland County Transition Association (OCTA), she supports compliance and the development of evidence based practices for transition. As a member of the Collaborative team including education, rehabilitation, and mental health, she helped establish Project SEARCH a school transition employment model in Oakland County. Her experience also includes over 20 years as a Special Education Teacher in the Pontiac School District. She earned a Masters Degree in Counseling at Oakland University.

Carolyn Van Noord - Special Education Teacher, Troy School District
Carolyn is employed by the Troy School District as a special education teacher for Project SEARCH located at Troy Beaumont Hospital. Carolyn teaches employability and living skills to young adults with disabilities in a business setting. Upon completion students learn to make successful transitions from school to a productive adult life. Project SEARCH is in its 3rd year at and to date, 8 Project SEARCH graduates have been hired by Troy Beaumont Hospital.