Chico’s Warehouse, Barrow County’s second largest employer outside of the school system, has partnered with Barrow County School System to offer a school-to-work transitional program for students with disabilities.

The school-to-work transition program is created for students who are finished with their graduation requirements, are at least 18-years-old and able to work and take direction.

The goal of the program is to fully immerse students into the workplace environment so they can acquire competitive, transferable and marketable skills. The program also offers an alternative from the traditional classroom learning environment.

Interns must complete three 10-week internships for the full school year at Chico's. The program includes an on-site mentor, job skills trainer and employment planning team to help students figure out their unique skill sets and assist with optimal job placement after program completion. As an added bonus, interns will be given access to shop at the Chico’s employee store.

School officials envision this program as an opportunity for BCSS to become a national leader in transitional programming. To execute this program, BCSS is also in partnership with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and Hi Hope Service Center.

Other recently added transition programs being offered by BCSS include:

STEP: Student Transition Enrichment Program

STEP is a full-time, year-long program for students with significant cognitive disabiilties who want to enter the workplace but need extra support in reaching their goals. For students 18 years or older who have completed their graduation requirements, the program gives students hands-on experience working within the academy by practicing skills in the coffee shop, school store, cafeteria and performing general custodial duties around the facility. Students also obtain field experience in the community three days a week for an extended period of time at places like Wal-Mart or Publix.

Three Phases of Yes Program

This program is also for students who plan to work after graduation instead of continuing to higher education. Students in this program must be on-track to graduate and in their senior year of high school with enough room in their schedule to attend SIMS Academy as an elective class in fall.

During the fall semester, the transition class at the career academy, which is in partnership with Goodwill, will teach students finance, employability skills, soft skills, job interviewing skills and resume building.

During spring semester, the program will be a paid internship as long as the student is reliable and motivated to work. By summer, if successful, the student will have a full-time job placement.

IMPACT Program

The IMPACT program is created for K-5 students with behavioral issues and sets out to find support for elementary schools working with these students. Therapeutic in nature, the program is based on applied behavioral analysis with the goal to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning. It serves as an additional level of support to K-5 students who are in Response to Intervention (RTI) Tier 3 or special education whose behavior limits their ability to learn and encroaches upon the ability of other students to do the same, despite individualized intervention, according to Dr. Brad Bowling, director of special education.

IMPACT Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA's) have graduate-level certification in behavior analysis, or “the science of behavior.” Professionals certified at the BCBA level are independent practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services. The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a paraprofessional certification in behavior analysis and assists in delivering behavior analysis services and practice under the direction and close supervision of an RBT supervisor. Currently, BCSS has two BCBA’s and four RBT’s.

The program is designed to teach appropriate classroom behavior with an emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to enhance student ability to function in all social and academic settings.

So far this year, the IMPACT program has worked with nine students across six elementary schools. Of those students, one was referred for evaluation and none were moved to a more restrictive environment. Anecdotal and qualitative data indicates a strong positive response from all stakeholders including parents, teachers and administrators.

IMPACT started this fall and originally anticipated requiring 4-12 weeks for completion, however BCSS has experienced successes within only 4-6 weeks, according to Bowling.

“The analysts collect data, and lots of it,” said Bowling. “More specific numbers will be available at the end of the school year that will show its effectiveness.”

“I think we can grow it if we find that it works over the long term,” said Board of Education member Lynn Stevens.

“Sometimes children go misdiagnosed. I can see this program really helping them. I’m hoping we can move some of these kids out of that [RTI Tier 3] classification into a regular classroom,” said Stevens.

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(1) comment

Ben McDaniel

Project SEARCH is such a great program!

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