Innovative Practices 2013 on Employment

Supported internship

Project SEARCH is a unique, one-year, school-to-work programme for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:SEARCH
Organisation:Supported internship
of origin


Worldwide, there are 206 Project SEARCH programme sites, with the majority in the USA. The number of programme sites continues to grow each year, with a corresponding increase in the number of young people with disabilities served. In total, approximately 2,000 student interns participated in the 2010-2011 school year. In that year, approximately 66% of participants in the USA, and 60.1% in the UK gained competitive employment as a direct result of Project SEARCH. These figures are based on data entered as of August 23, 2012 in the recently established Project SEARCH database.


The programme takes place entirely within a business setting where students participate in three internships to explore a variety of career options. This total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration and hands-on, worksite-based training and support. The goal for each student is competitive employment.

The programme originated at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the United States in the mid-1990s. Since then, Project SEARCH has expanded to over 200 sites across the USA and in England, Scotland, Canada and Australia. In an evaluation of Project SEARCH in the UK, interns reported a positive experience of the programme. Partners of the project, the interns and their parents stated that the student interns’ confidence, motivation, decision-making skills, self-esteem and health had all improved.


Originating in the USA, the programme has now also been implemented in England, Scotland, Canada and Australia


Daston, M.M., Riehle E., Rutkowski S.C. (2012) High school transition that works! Lessons learned from Project SEARCH. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., Inc.


J. Erin Riehle
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
3333 Burnet Ave. E5030, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3026, USA
Phone: +1 513 636 8729

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