Building from a hugely rewarding inaugural year, Project SEARCH is continuing its record of success in 2016 with a new class of interns at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System. Project SEARCH at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System is a collaboration between CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System, Tyler ISD, Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Winning Edge Employment Services, and the Andrews Center. Started in August 2015, Project SEARCH at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System was the first of its kind in East Texas.
“CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System was excited to host this inaugural year of Project SEARCH, and it was an even larger success than we could have foreseen. We are committed to this program and to assisting the young members of our community to develop the job skills necessary to lead fuller, richer lives,” said Thomas Wilken, MS, SPHR, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System.
Last year, Tyler ISD partnered with CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System and other community agencies to provide a unique internship program to prepare students with disabilities for today’s competitive workforce. Project SEARCH is a 10-month internship program originating in 1996 as a partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center and the local school district. Project SEARCH is an internationally known business-led model designed to fully immerse students into the workplace allowing them to gain marketable skills to secure competitive employment in their last year of transition from school to work.
“After a competitive application process, nine Tyler ISD special education students began their journey at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital - Tyler on August 22. They will participate in a 10-month long internship program at our hospital and rotated through three different internships throughout the year,” said Wilken. “The interns are considered a part of our team; they are fully embedded in the hospital and treated as Associates.”
The interns are at the hospital Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 3:30pm, working in their rotations and participating in transition-related class sessions. Throughout the year, interns worked with a team that included their family, teacher, job coaches, hospital mentors, and a Rehabilitation Counselor to create an employment goal and to support the intern during their transition from school to work.
“During the initial year of Project SEARCH, all eight interns had a goal of competitive employment,” said Katherine Devine, Tyler ISD Program Coordinator for Project SEARCH. “I am happy share that each and every intern who participated in our first class of Project SEARCH achieved not only their employment goals, with a 100-percent employment rate, but also their achieved many other personal goals. Five of the eight interns are now officially apart of the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System family. Working in Laboratory Services, Central Supply, Sterile Processing, the Café and the Hospital Business Office. The other three have been hired in the community at various locations; including UT Tyler, a local nursing home, and another local print shop.”
“Tyler ISD is incredibly excited to continue this partnership with CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System and other local providers in developing our Project SEARCH internship program,” Dr. Leslie Brinkman George, executive director of academic intervention, said. “Project SEARCH will enhance readiness skills to better prepare students to enter real life employment.”
The success of these interns and the success of Project SEARCH at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances has brought many new opportunities to reach out into our community. Project SEARCH has created a Business Advisory Committee with approximately 10 local businesses. The Business Advisory Committee meets to discuss the interns and raise awareness in the community of the value of individuals with different abilities in today’s workforce.
“The value that the Project SEARCH interns have brought to our hospital along with our partnership in the community has been so successful that we are thrilled to share our story to others in the CHRISTUS family, and beyond,” said Wilken. “After hearing of the success of our program, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in San Antonio has partnered with San Antonio ISD to begin Project SEARCH and start their own journey of success.”
“Everyone of the Project SEARCH at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System team is very proud of all of the successes of the interns and believe that this program is directly aligned with our mission,” said Devine. “We look forward to continued growth as we welcome our next nine interns to Project SEARCH at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System.”
The mission of the Tyler Project SEARCH team is that upon completion of Project SEARCH at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System, participants will be prepared for competitive employment in the community of Tyler with an independent, enriched future.
Watch a brief video featuring the 2016 Class: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QifaDhucNuw