Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784

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Scott Walker, Governor
Reginald J. Newson, Secretary

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
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Lt. Governor Kleefisch, Secretary Newson Congratulate Graduates Project SEARCH at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

Program provides training and education for high school students with disabilities;
Promotes Governor Walker's Year of A Better Bottom Line initiative

MILWAUKEE – Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson today congratulated the latest graduates of a training and education program for students with disabilities in their last year of high school. Project SEARCH provides students with disabilities with the skills and work experience that will help them become employed after high school.

Since 2008, 140 students with disabilities have graduated from Project SEARCH programs throughout Wisconsin. Besides the program at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, there are Project SEARCH sites in Menomonie, Marshfield, Appleton, Madison, Middleton, and Waukesha.

"Today is a great day for these 12 graduates, for their families, and for our state," stated Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. "Supporting Project SEARCH here and elsewhere in Wisconsin is part of our administration’s commitment to help people with disabilities find employment opportunities and realize the power of a paycheck and the dignity of a job. Governor Walker reinforced this commitment when he declared 2014 the Year of A Better Bottom Line."

The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion into the business environment. Five days a week, Project SEARCH interns report to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin to learn employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills. During their time in the program, they participate in internship rotations where they gain real-life work experience and that give them marketable, transferable and competitive skills.

"I would like to thank Children's Hospital of Wisconsin for taking part in Project SEARCH and offering valuable experiences to these young adults," Secretary Newson said. "People with disabilities have much to offer employers in the state of Wisconsin, and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is setting an example of how hiring individuals with disabilities can improve an employer's bottom line."

Recognizing the many partners who make Project SEARCH possible, Secretary Newson continued, "Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, several area school districts, Easter Seals of Southeastern Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation have all shown remarkable dedication to the success of these students."

DVR staff, teachers and hospital human resources staff participate in the screening and selection process for Project SEARCH interns. Career coaches from the Easter Seals of Southeastern Wisconsin assist the interns on the job to insure that they have the supports they need to be successful.

Governor Walker proclaimed 2014 as the Year of A Better Bottom Line to highlight successful operations thanks in part to the contributions of people with disabilities, while urging other employers to consider an often overlooked skilled and capable workforce.

DVR assists over 17,000 individuals with disabilities, and in fiscal year 2013, it helped 3,840 consumers achieve their employment goals. These newly employed individuals are projected to earn $66.3 million annually, more than double the taxpayer investment in their services.

Project SEARCH was developed in 1996 by Nurse J. Erin Riehle, then the Director of the Emergency Department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. As the flagship program, Cincinnati Children's Hospital provides technical assistance for replication and overall leadership to Project SEARCH worldwide.

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