The inaugural class of Project SEARCH at University Medical Center Brackenridge for the 2014-15 school year includes (left to right) Marisol Sierra, Ama Hussain, Mai Ngyugen, Janell Benitez, Lena Belmont, Marvin Medina and Jeremy Guerrero.
AUSTIN, Texas – (Sept. 18, 2014) – Project SEARCH, an innovative, business-led approach to competitive employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will expand to its fourth Seton location – University Medical Center Brackenridge – and now provide internships for approximately 40 local high school students in Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.
“We’re thrilled to bring Project SEARCH, an initiative that emphasizes the strengths and skills of young adults with intellectual developmental disabilities, to another Seton flagship facility,” Jesús Garza, Seton Healthcare Family president and chief executive officer, said.
Started in 2007, Project SEARCH at Seton Healthcare Family is a year-long, innovative internship program that takes place entirely within hospital settings. Interns gain essential work skills and professional experience through hands-on training in complex, systematic tasks, with the ultimate goal of securing employment at Seton or with another Austin-area employer.
Project SEARCH has experienced exponential success and growth. In its first six years, the program grew from five interns at a single Seton location to 30 interns across three Seton locations – Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas in Austin, Seton Medical Center Williamson in Round Rock and Seton Medical Center Hays in Kyle. Students in the program come from the Austin, Hays Consolidated and Round Rock independent school districts.
“The impact these interns have on the staff, patients and families, not to mention on our operations, is significant. Many associates have proactively found ways to retain interns in permanent roles,” Garza said. “Interns gain confidence and their families take great joy in their accomplishments.”
Through this program, approximately 80 percent of Project SEARCH graduates to date – a total of 65 young adults – have found employment at a Seton facility or elsewhere in Central Texas. Many now live independently and are active members of the community.