Our Goal: To provide opportunities for competitive employment and changing outcomes for people with disabilities.

On-the-job training, career exploration and coaching for people with significant disabilities in Eastern CT.

What is Project Search?

Project Search is an internationally acclaimed program designed to provide individuals with disabilities the skills and experience needed to secure competitive employment. This program offers a nine-month internship for young adults, equipping them with valuable, transferrable workplace skills through a series of rotations in various departments at Backus Hospital. UCP of Eastern Connecticut is offering this national model through a partnership between Project SEARCH, Backus Hospital and CT’s Department of Developmental Services (DDS). This program offers a unique opportunity for individuals with  diverse abilities to work towards competitive employment and personal growth.

Program Goals:

  • The end goal of Project SEARCH is competitive employment.
  • Real-life experiences and training in employability and independent living skills.

Program Structure:

  • A nine-month internship program with three rotations at Backus Hospital.
  • Interns focus on acquiring competitive, transferable, and marketable skills.

Employability Curriculum:

Project SEARCH integrates an employability curriculum, teaching skills applicable to in-demand community employment.


  • Entirely at Backus Hospital, ensuring total immersion in the workplace.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • High school students with I/DD in their last year of high school eligibility.
  • The most important criterion for acceptance Project SEARCH is a desire to achieve competitive employment.
  • Age 18 – 35
  • Funding from school, family or state agency such as DDS

Download our brochure for more informationUCP Project SEARCH Brochure

Nationally, statistics report that 75% of graduates are hired, often by the businesses that hosted the Project SEARCH Program.

Everyone gains from this program

  • Interns find a path to gainful employment at competitive wages.
  • On the job training helps them succeed in the workplace.
  • Discovery and acquisition of transferrable skills through a series of job rotations.
  • Vital social and business connections are made during the program.
  • Employers diversify their workforces and fill jobs with high turnover positions.
  • Brings positive change to business culture regarding hiring people with disabilities.
  • Provides social service agencies with cutting edge employment solutions.
  • The State of CT has a decrease in subsidies.
  • Society benefits by having a more inclusive workforce.
  • Supports the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and reduces sub-minimum wages, sheltered workshops, group supported employment.
Project SEARCH Partners: UCP, Backus Hospital, CT Department of Developmental Services (DDS).
Proect SEARCH Internship Program in partnership UCP with Backus Hospital

Past Project SEARCH Grads

Two of UCP’s graduates have been hired by Mohegan Sun. Congratulations to Chris and Sam! Read about them in this news article.

“I realized everyone at the Project SEARCH program was there because they cared, not simply because they had a job to do. They showed me how important my son was to them. They were reliable, caring, dependable and incredibly hard working. They got me to think outside of my comfort zone and challenged both me and my son to never say no. This opened our eyes to possibilities. As a parent, they made me believe in the ‘system’ again.” – Parent, Christine M.

Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown from a single program site at Cincinnati Children’s to a large and continuously expanding international network of sites. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.

DDS Logo

There are 14 Project SEARCH host programs run by DDS provider agencies and partners in CT. This internship program is available to school transition age students and young adults eligible for DDS services, who need intensive employment training.

Backus Hospital logo

Hartford Healthcare’s Backus Hospital is the work site of our Project SEARCH internship program for 2024/2025. Interns are provided on-the-job training, career exploration and coaching which helps them find a path to gainful employment at competitive wages.