St. Bernards Medical Center is partnering with two Arkansas organizations to establish the first work training site in Eastern Arkansas that is a part of the Project SEARCH program that will train young adults with developmental disabilities for jobs in the workforce that pay competitive wages.
St. Bernards will be the host business partner for the first Project SEARCH site in the eastern part of the state. It will join with ACCESS, a Little Rock based organization, and Arkansas Rehabilitative Services (ARS), a division of the Department of Career Education, to provide a nine-month vocational training program designed to lead to competitive, integrated employment outcomes for young adults with developmental disabilities.
Project SEARCH International was founded in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and has grown to more than 400 sites across 44 states and six countries. In Arkansas, ACCESS and ARS have helped develop three training sites in conjunction with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and CHI St. Vincent – Hot Springs. A Washington Regional Medical Center Project SEARCH site was developed by Lifestyles, Inc. – Fayetteville in partnership with ARS.
The St. Bernards Project SEARCH program will begin in the fall of this year. Other similar sites scheduled to begin in the fall are at Ouachita County Medical Center in Camden and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Russellville.
Announcement of the specialized vocational training program was made Jan. 19 in conjunction with a two-day orientation and implementation meeting to share information with representatives from area school districts, local ARS staff, Department of Development Disabilities Services staff, Arkansas State University, the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders. Sessions are being led by Elizabeth Falk, Project SEARCH International liaison for Arkansas.
St. Bernards President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Barber says the healthcare organization is pleased to serve as the host business partner for what he calls a tremendous opportunity to invest in the lives of young adults with developmental disabilities, their families, the community and the state.
Participants will train as interns in the business setting where they will learn processes and will acquire employability and marketable work skills, moving them toward gainful employment.
St. Bernards is a 438-bed acute care hospital that serves as a regional referral center for 23 counties in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. It is the only Level III Trauma Center in the region, houses the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the eastern part of Arkansas and has served as the trusted provider of comprehensive, compassionate healthcare services for more than 116 years.
ACCESS is a 501c3 nonprofit offering evaluation services, full-time education, therapy, training and activities for individuals with disabilities. Founded in 1994, the center comprises ACCESS Early Childhood Program, ACCESS Academy, ACCESS Therapy, ACCESS Academic Therapy (specialized tutoring), ACCESS Life, Project SEARCH® and the ACCESS Evaluation and Resource Center. ACCESS is located at 10618 Breckenridge Drive in Little Rock, Arkansas. www.AccessGroupInc.org