Promising Practice

Rhode Island Department of Health Internship Program for Youth with Special Healthcare Needs

State/Jurisdiction: Rhode Island
Setting: Workplace
Population: CYSHCN, Cross-Cutting/System Building,
Topic Area: Family & Youth Engagement, Workforce Development & Leadership
NPMs: NPM 12: Transition

The RI Department of Health’s (RIDOH’s) goal of the Rhode Island Department of Health Internship Program for Youth with Special Healthcare Needs was to address the successful transition of YSHCN to all aspects of adulthood (health care, education, work, independence) specifically focusing on transition to employment through the facilitation of an Internship Program within the RIDOH. The RIDOH developed an initiative that contributes to reducing health inequities for youth with special needs by providing work experience opportunities for YSHCN, who are traditionally an underemployed population because of their challenges. Since 2011, the RIDOH Internship Program aim has been to address self-determination to give a population of youth that is nationally considered to be vulnerable a chance to gain skills through a real work experience. This program helps students become work ready and gain important soft skills including socialization, relationship development, time management, and workplace etiquette etc. The opportunity to develop these skills provides youth with and without disabilities the ability break through the barriers of stigma, while working towards their goal of independence. Working within a supportive environment in a workplace internship helps students build employment skills while having the option to access the support needed. As the system advocates for policy changes that directly affect this population’s ability to successfully transition to adulthood, the internship program allows interns to begin to change how they are seen and included in the system to achieve successful transition to adulthood.

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Implementation Handout

Rhode Island Department of Health
Carmen Boucher
Practice Website
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