Springfield project helps young adults with disabilities land jobs

A local program continues to help young adults diagnosed with disabilities find employment in the area.

Project SEARCH first began at Children’s Hospital in Dayton with one nurse and a student with down syndrome. Staff realized there was an untapped workforce for people with disabilities, said Jeana Baucant, the coordinator and teacher with Project SEARCH.

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The program is now at 500 sites in nine countries, she added, and it continues to grow.

The Springfield program started seven years ago when Springfield Regional Medical Center first opened.

“What we wanted to do was train them on site in a community based employment area, and ours here is a hospital,” Baucant said. “What the students do is go through three, nine-week rotations here at the hospital in one school year.”

They do it the final year of high school, Baucant said. The goal is to work with them on a job site to help them find employment after they graduate. The program’s goal is 100 percent employment.

“Thirty-six have acquired employment out in the community or here at the hospital. The hospital now employs 10 graduates,” she said.

Students and parents are scared when the students first start, Baucant said, but students grow and eventually blossom, making parents feel more at ease.

“They become very independent, very self-assured, great confidence. They learn how to speak in public,” she said.

One student now works 16 hours a week in the lab.

An intern, Bailey White, will also be employed there.

“I am building food kits,” White said of her current work.

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