About Madonna Employment & Community-Based Services

In 2011, Madonna Employment Services was launched at the urging of state officials who saw that Madonna’s Life Skills Transition Program was functioning as an employment services provider but wasn’t recognized or compensated for it.

In Spring 2016, Nebraska’s Division of Developmental Disabilities recognized Madonna Employment Services as a specialized provider, and a contract between Madonna and the State was signed in July 2016. Madonna is thus a full service provider of employment and day habilitation services for adults 21 and over who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Madonna Employment Services offers the following:

  • Pre-vocational skills training for young adults

  • On-campus opportunities to develop job skills running our school food service, helping with mowing and landscaping, assisting with clerical work, etc.

  • Opportunities in the community to develop job skills on the site of competitive employers.

  • Training on how to discern one’s job interests, find openings, apply for jobs, interview for them, and begin employment.

  • Job coaching until an individual can master the job independently.

  • Follow-up to ensure continued success on the job.

  • Training in appropriate hygiene, dress and deportment in the workplace.

  • Life skills training to help one live and function in the community as independently as possible.

  • Wellness training stressing healthy diet, food preparation and fitness.

  • A supportive, caring, Christian environment.

Project SEARCH

Madonna is part of Project SEARCH, an international approach to attaining employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Madonna partners with Nebraska Medicine/University of Nebraska Medical Center and VODEC to provide a series of internships that can lead to competitive employment. In its first few years, Madonna and its partners have exceeded the national average of 73 percent employment for Project SEARCH graduates.

An Array of Services to Meet Special Needs

The Madonna program is unique in this region because our students learn jobs in competitive employment that they can keep even after they graduate. No other program in this area has its job coaches teaching its students jobs that can become life-long careers in the private sector. Madonna believes this approach is the best way to enable long-term success for graduates, all of whom represent an under-served population of workers with low to moderate skills.

High school students go in groups of four with the vocational coordinator to job sites where they volunteer their services, such as at hospitals, supermarkets or institutional food service operations. The students are thus exposed to work in the community and become increasingly acclimated to a work environment.

College-age students in Madonna’s three-year Life Skills Transition Program are exposed to an even wider variety of work environments, including light assembly work contracted with local businesses, additional food service responsibilities, and running Madonna’s on-campus greenhouse, which produces herbs sold to local restaurants and bedding plants sold to gardeners. By the time students are in their final year, they have paying jobs under the supervision of job coaches. Combined with lessons in functional academics and the life skills needed for essential tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene, the Madonna graduate has a strong foundation for independent living as a contributing member of society.

Madonna Employment Services allows us to sustain these programs even after our students graduate. We work in collaboration with state agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Health & Human Services, specifically the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Many adults who have attained jobs in the community through Madonna Employment Services continue to participate in the program on days they’re not working in order to keep learning new skills, enhance their independent living skills, and remain part of a warm, friendly, positive social environment.