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Opportunities for On-Site Employment Training

Programs: Project SEARCH | Start on Success | Community Connection | Career and Community Exploration (CCE) | Work Study

A collaborative training program designed to employ students with significant disabilities in non-traditional, complex, and rewarding jobs.


Project SEARCH: Howard County is a one-year Transition Program designed for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities that are in their last year of high school. The program targets individuals whose main goal is employment, and who will benefit from full-time career exploration in a business setting.

The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, job coaches, and employers. As a result, at the completion of the training program, students with significant intellectual disabilities are employed in non-traditional, complex, and rewarding jobs.

This program is a collaborative effort of the Howard County Public School System, Howard County Government, Arc of Howard County, and the Division of Rehabilitation Services, MSDE.


  • 30-week program (follows HCPSS calendar).
  • Three 10-week internships in Howard County Government departments.
  • Interns are volunteers.
  • On-the-job training provided by coaches/instructor.
  • Workplace behavior training.
  • Ongoing monitoring of intern performance.

The cornerstone of this one-year program is total immersion in the Howard County local government offices. Participants are onsite at the business each school day for a minimum of six hours for an entire academic year, 10-months.

Student Eligibility

  • Must be HCPSS student.
  • In last year of public school eligibility.
  • DDA and DORS eligible.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Strong desire to work!

For more information, please contact: 410-313-5355

Start on Success Program

An employment training program at Howard County General Hospital for students with disabilities, in their senior/exiting year of HCPSS


Start on Success (SOS) is an employment training program geared toward transitional youth with disabilities in the Howard County Public School System. It consists of a 16-week, paid internship at Howard County General Hospital and includes job readiness training, job development, and coaching services after graduation. Students are placed in hospital departments based on their employment interests and skills.

For more information, please contact: 410-313-5640

When is SOS?

The internship takes place from early February through May (before final exam week), Monday through Friday, 1:00-3:30 pm. Schedules may be adjusted, as needed. Job development services will continue through the summer or until the student obtains a paid job in the community. Job coaching services will be provided until the student maintains a job for 90 consecutive days.

Who is eligible for SOS?

Students eligible for SOS will be in their senior/exiting year of high school. Students must be diploma seeking. Potential candidates for the SOS program must have an open case and be deemed eligible through the Division of Rehabilitation Services (MSDE), to be accepted into SOS.

The SOS student is independent and a self-starter. He/she should be motivated, enthusiastic, and willing to learn new tasks. The student’s school schedule must be able to accommodate the internship days and times.

Where will SOS take place?

The SOS internship currently takes place at Howard County General Hospital. Following the school year, job development meetings will be located at a location that is convenient for both the student and job developer.

Why participate in SOS?

SOS is an excellent way for students to transition from high school into the working world. They will learn useful and applicable skills while still in school, and gain work experience in a well-known and reputable hospital (not to mention, earn a pay check)!

The job development and coaching services will help students obtain a paid job in the community while giving them the consistency and stability of working with the same staff member, from the beginning of the internship into the summer.

Students will learn to fill out applications, communicate with employers, advocate for themselves, manage their money, etc. For students who want to enroll in school and work at the same time, SOS staff will help them learn time management skills while prioritizing their goals.

Community Connection

A community inclusive transition program located on the Howard Community College campus, designed for students who are in their final years of public school education.


Community Connection eases the transition to independent adult life for post-high school students with mild to moderate disabilities.

Located on the Howard Community College campus, the program helps students develop the skills essential for success in work, social, and community environments:

  • Finding employment
  • Workplace skills
  • Financial literacy (money management, budgeting, and shopping)
  • Appropriate behavior in work and social settings
  • Navigating independently
  • Self advocacy
  • Recreation and leisure

Students sharpen these skills while working and functioning in the community, with guidance and support from Community Connections staff.

Student Eligibility

  • Able to function independently with minimal supervision
  • Demonstrates satisfactory attendance and behavior
  • Typically has completed at least four years in high school
  • Seeking a Maryland High School Certificate of Completion (rather than diploma)
  • Individual Education Program goals and transition plans are vocationally based

Referral to the Community Connection Program is based on an IEP Team recommendation.

For more information, please contact:
The Community Connection
Howard Community College
Athletic and Fitness Center
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044
443-518-4062 (fax)

Department of Special Education and Student Services
Howard County Public School System

Work Study

A customized employment program that is directly related to the student’s interests and transition goals on the Individual Education Program (IEP)

The HCPSS Work Study Program is a structured, supervised work experience in a business or other community organization. A teacher works closely with the student and the employer to ensure satisfactory job performance.

Work Study:

  • Allows opportunities for students who demonstrate ability to work independently.
  • Provides a level of worksite support as determined by the IEP team.
  • Designed for students 16 years of age and older who are seeking either a Certificate of Completion or diploma.
  • Allows for paid or unpaid training opportunities.
  • Provides bus transportation by the school system.

Goals of Work Study:

  • Career Exploration.
  • Development of work readiness skills.

Roles of the Transition Specialist

  • Coordinates job development, placement and retention activities.
  • Provides job coaching, as needed.
  • Maintains consistent communication with the employer.
  • Assists with development of the student’s portfolio or resume.

Career and Community Exploration (CCE)

A community-based work and career exploration program for students who may require a higher degree of support or supervision, that enables them to sample a variety of opportunities


Career and Community Exploration Experiences enable students who may require a higher degree of support or supervision, to experience a community-based vocational program and receive a certificate of completion. CCE involves group work sites supervised by special education personnel that provide a transition step from school to independent work experiences.

In addition to gaining specific skills, CCE students learn work behaviors and attitudes, including:

  • Following directions from a variety of supervisors
  • Completing the job
  • Increasing independent work time while decreasing the amount of supervision needed
  • Taking pride in one’s own work
  • Seeking assistance when needed
  • Using effective, socially-appropriate communication skills

The intent of the program is to give students an opportunity to sample a variety of experiences, demonstrate their ability to use learned skills in different settings, and ultimately, to use these skills in an independent work experience.

Who is eligible?

  • High school students in the Life Skills Programs.
  • Students seeking a certificate of completion.

What do students gain?

  • Attitudes and skills necessary to work
  • Independent work skills
  • Social interaction skills
  • Exploration of a variety of work sites

What is the enrollment process?

  • Referral from a CCE Liaison
  • IEP Team Consensus

For more information, please contact: 410-313-7046 x260

Where students have participated and tasks they’ve been assigned:

Alcon Labs

  • Constructing boxes
  • Packaging inserts, label lids
  • Stacking boxes in appropriate locations

Columbia Ice Rink

  • Cleaning windows
  • Cleaning tables and benches
  • Vacuuming

Green Valley Marketplace

  • Bagging groceries
  • Organizing and restocking shelves

On The Border

  • Wiping down menus
  • Rolling silverware in napkins


  • Unpacking merchandise
  • Stocking and straightening shelves

Town Center Community

  • Cleaning the preschool room
  • Clerical duties (mailings, brochures and newsletters)