Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH is a nationally acclaimed, nine-month school-to-work program for students with special needs. Available for the first time in Pennsylvania at Good Shepherd, the program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills to help individuals with special needs successfully transition from school to productive adult life.

Modeled after a program at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Project SEARCH at Good Shepherd increases marketability, longevity, earnings and career advancement for people with special needs.

Quick Facts about Project SEARCH at Good Shepherd:

  • The program enrolls eight students per school year.
  • Students meet five days a week with an instructor and two job coaches in a classroom on Good Shepherd’s south Allentown campus.
  • The program includes orientation to hospital protocol, culture and facilities and three or four worksite rotations that are based on a student’s previous work experience and interests and the results of a skills assessment.
  • Jobs chosen for the program are systematic, but complex. Students have worked in the following departments: laundry, linen, housekeeping, hospitality aide, patient care unit clerk, central supply and mailroom.
  • For each worksite rotation, which can vary in length depending on the complexity of the job, students prepare a resume, interview with the department manager and arrange scheduling.
  • Each student receives proper education and training in preparation for gaining full-time employment upon graduation from high school in June.

Local implementation of the business model for Project SEARCH has been a collaborative effort between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Lehigh County Office of Developmental Programs.

For more information please contact Melissa Johnson, supervisor of special education, Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit #21, 610-769-4111, ext. 1219.