A good day is a pay day! When individuals work, they contribute to their community, making the economy and community stronger. Work also helps individuals develop new skills and strengthen self-respect, dignity, and self-worth. Creating a solid foundation of employability while a student is in high school can lead to a student having a successful future.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services in South Dakota are provide to individuals with disabilities to get and keep jobs compatible with their skills and abilities. Any person whose disability significantly interferes with getting or keeping a job, and who needs VR services to overcome these barriers to employment may be eligible for the program.

Transition services are best delivered in a framework where there is coordination between education and VR that actively involve the student and family and are focused on the outcome. The following transition services known as Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) can assist in preparing the student for competitive integrated employment as they transition from high school to the adult world. Pre-ETS Examples

VR services are delivered by two separate divisions:

  • The Division of Rehabilitation Services (DHS) can help individuals with disabilities to obtain or maintain employment, economic self-sufficiency, personal independence and full inclusion into society.
  • Service to the Blind & Visually Impaired (SBVI) provides individualized rehabilitation services that result in optimal employment and independent living outcomes for citizens who are blind or visually impaired.

Even though you have to be at lease 16 years old to qualify for Project Skills work experience program, you can incorporate VR in your IEP for career planning as soon as you turn 14. Vocational Rehabilitation programs can work with students as young as 14 years old and can continue after high school until the consumer reaches his/her employment goal.

Many times, students with disabilities don’t get an opportunity to gain paid work experience while in high school. Although willing, most employers cannot afford to provide the training and supports students frequently require on their first job. By Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services covering the cost of wages and additional supports, Project Skills enables employers to provide these students with valuable work experiences in a real work setting.

Why Project Skills?

  • Gain Work Skills
  • Identify Career Plans
  • Develop Work History

Project Skills is a paid work experience program for high school students with disabilities. The program is a cooperative arrangement between the state vocational rehabilitation agencies and the local school districts.

Project skills provides students the opportunity to learn different skills in a variety of job placements, with the assistance of a job coach.

Project skills will help to build the student’s work history, references, and help them move into different and better jobs as they mature and are ready to take on new challenges.

Assessment and Feedback

An important aspect of supporting youth during work experiences is providing feedback on their performance and growth. Evaluation tools for providing feedback to the student on observed strengths and needs at the worksite:

Work Skills Rubric

Employer Survey

Work Site Evaluation Tool

PCT Learning Log

PCT 4-plus-1 Questions

Projects Skills Evaluation Tool

Project Skills Resources

Monthly Services Report

Automated Monthly Report

Assurance of Match Form

Project Skills Tutorial

Project Skills Brochure

Project Skills Employer Brochure

The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a unique one-year school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace.

Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and on-the-job training and support through worksite rotations or internships.

The program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills to help youths with significant disabilities make successful transitions from school to productive adult life.

Who is Project SEARH for?

  • Students with significant disabilities who are in the last year of their educational program.
  • Students must have a desire to achieve competitive employment.
  • Students who have completed all academic requirements for graduation from high school.
  • Students must be 18 to 21 years old.

Students are referred to the program through their schools and/or VR Counselor and apply in the winter and spring in the year prior to entering the program. The Project SEARCH teacher, VR Counselor, and provider staff carry out the selection process with input from the Project SEARCH state team.

South Dakota Project SEARCH Sites

Aberdeen School District & Avera St. Luke’s Hospital, Aberdeen

Brookings School District & SDSU, Brookings

Black Hills Special Services Cooperative & Rapid City Regional Hospital, Rapid City
Contact Hearth Hoye at (605) 394-5120

TeachWell & Avera McKennan Hospital, Sioux Falls

National Project Search Program