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Pilot Program Offers Job-Skills Training to Students with Special Needs

LongIsland.com

Eastern Suffolk BOCES, in partnership with the Medford Multicare Center, Suffolk Independent Living Organization and the Islip Career Center, last month launched a pilot program giving students with disabilities the opportunity to transition to adult ...

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Eastern Suffolk BOCES, in partnership with the Medford Multicare Center, Suffolk Independent Living Organization and the Islip Career Center, last month launched a pilot program giving students with disabilities the opportunity to transition to adult life and to obtain competitive employment.

Working in the central supply, dietary, recreation, laundry, and housekeeping departments at Medford Multicare Center, an acute care facility, eight Project SEARCH internship candidates have successfully completed their first week in Long Island’s only transition program of its kind.

“During the first week, the students had an opportunity to adjust to their new surroundings, prepare resumes, and tour the facility,” teacher Linda Niosi said in a statement.

The interns, chosen for the project based on their interests, strengths, and needs, also interviewed with department heads at the facility.

“The staff is wonderful and the residents are great. The students’ social skills are improving and I think this is going to be a great year,” Niosi said.

Medford Multicare Administrator David Fielding said, "No one knows what we are capable of doing, until we try. This is a highly selective program and we want the students to develop the skills they need to be successful. We know that in June 2014, this will be the first graduating class of Project SEARCH from Medford Multicare and ESBOCES.”

The program follows a curriculum composed of classroom instruction, career exploration and relevant job-skills training through strategically designed internships.

“SILO will provide job coaches who will use structured intervention techniques to help students learn to perform job tasks to the employer’s specifications," said Lynn Russo, ESBOCES transition specialist.

SILO will work extensively throughout the year with the New York State Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services Department-Vocational Rehabilitation as well as the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to enhance the transition for students and assist with job placement.

ICC Principal Peter LePore said, “Project SEARCH Long Island will be modeled after the successful Project SEARCH University of Rochester Medical Center.” More than 80 percent of students who complete the Rochester program find employment, compared to a national average of around 18 percent for students with developmental disabilities, according to Newsday.

Jose Sola, a resident of the Three Village CSD, is excited about his son’s participation in the program.

“He gets up early and takes the Suffolk County Accessible Transportation (SCAT) bus every day. Hunter wants to succeed and be independent. There’s nothing else like this program. Project SEARCH will give him the tools he needs to succeed,” Sola said.

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[Sources: Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Newsday]