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Work Experience Program

Watch to learn more about the Work Experience Program

The Work Experience Program at Children's Hospital Boston provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to experience the world of work. While working in departments throughout the hospital, participants develop personal and vocational skills leading to greater independence. Available work opportunities include a variety of general clerical duties, materials handling, messenger work, food service, and environmental services.

The program’s focus is on helping participants develop work skills and behaviors that will enhance their professional success. Experiencing different types of jobs, varied work environments, and different types of relationships at work helps participants to learn what jobs and professional settings are best for them, and to develop realistic career goals.

Work settings at Children’s Hospital provide opportunities for employment staff to perform assessments and evaluations of individuals’ skills, in addition to job-targeted education and skills training.

Support Services

The Work Experience Program also provides a variety of services designed to support participants. Each participant meets individually each week with an employment specialist, who helps promote the participant's ability to make decisions, interact with others, and explore feelings about the future. Several structured peer-support and skills-teaching groups are also available. The employment specialist from the program, in conjunction with the referring counselor, provides case management services for the participant.

Program staff collaborate with the participant, his/her family, referring agencies and other service providers to develop plans that are consistent with the participant's interests and needs. Periodic team meetings are scheduled to assist the participant in reviewing his/her experiences in the program. These meetings also provide an opportunity to develop goals and plans for the future.

Program Outcomes

Program outcomes vary according to individual needs and may include: competitive employment, supported employment, or other employment or educational options. Referring agents receive assessment and skills-training information on the participant as he/she completes various components of the program. The staff is committed to working closely with the referral agency, participants, and families to create a positive transition and to promote continued vocational and emotional development.


Applicants must be at least 16 years of age and have a significant disability. The program is designed for individuals who are at the beginning stages of vocational development or who have had difficulty succeeding in other training or work settings. The program is committed to an inclusive model and does not require any previous work skills or experience. Emphasis is placed on the individual's expressed interest and motivation to work and the availability of appropriate supports to ensure a productive work experience.

Intake and Referral Process

Individuals may be referred to the program by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Department of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Mental Health, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, local schools, advocacy groups, family members, or they may refer themselves. Funding is arranged with the referring agency. Services may also be funded privately. The intake process is designed to assist program staff in understanding the needs of the applicant and to provide the applicant with the information necessary to decide whether he/she wants to participate in the program.

The admissions process includes three steps. First an informational meeting is scheduled to provide the applicant, family members, referring counselor, and/or other service providers the opportunity to learn more about the program and meet program staff. Next, if the applicant is still interested in the program, an application is completed and formal referral information is requested and reviewed. Finally, a formal interview takes place. Family members are encouraged to participate in all three steps of this process. After the interview process is completed a decision is made whether or not the applicant will participate in the program. This decision is based on the applicant's interest in participating in the program and on the determination by program staff that there is a good fit between the needs and preferences of the applicant and the program resources available.

For further information or to make a referral contact:

Lara Enein-Donovan
Program Coordinator
Institute for Community Inclusion
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125-3393
617.287.4319 (voice)
617.287.4352 (fax)
617.287.4350 (TTY)

This information sheet is available in audiotape, large print, and disk or Braille format upon request.

ICI: promoting inclusion for people with disabilities