In looking for ways to advance equity through greater workforce inclusion, workforce leaders ought to consider programs and best practices that offer young people with disabilities rewarding careers in the caring economy. Focusing on the "Caring Economy" and improving the quality care for older Americans is a key priority for the Administration and there are proven models of transition services that can make a transformative difference for youth with disabilities.
Policymakers should significantly expand the proven Project SEARCH model. Project SEARCH is a transformational school-to-work transition program for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities that prepares them for good paying careers in hospitals, elder-care and the caring economy. The SEARCH model is a win-win-win for the host employer, the workers with disabilities, and the many older Americans helped by Project SEARCH trained workers. As a model it has already been replicated in 47 states, with dozens of satisfied employers, and hundreds of workers with disabilities earning minimum wage or more. This model is perfectly suited to the challenges of the present and could be expanded widely. There are already SEARCH sites actively placing young people with intellectual disabilities into the workforce in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Other states such as Wisconsin have rapidly expanded the number of Project SEARCH sites to meet the needs of transition age youth with disabilities and other states could easily do the same in the months ahead.