Ohio will invest $8 million over the next two years to help employers and unemployed workers in 16 counties overcome issues related to the opioid epidemic and to help build the workforce to address the crisis, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced Thursday.
Montgomery, Clark, Butler and Preble counties are among those that will receive grants.
The Trade and Economic Transition National Dislocated Worker Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor will be used to support employers who hire individuals in recovery, create an addiction services apprenticeship at community colleges, and provide job training and other services.
The Dayton Daily News initiative, The Path Forward, has identified re-entering the workforce as one of the key barriers preventing many people in recovery from transitioning to a more productive and sustainable lifestyle.
GO HERE FOR MORE COVERAGE FROM THE PATH FORWARD TEAM“Drug addiction and overdose deaths have become the most pressing public health issue and workforce challenges facing Ohio,” ODJFS Director Cynthia Dungey said Thursday. “This grant will allow us to help businesses rebuild their work forces and individuals rebuild their lives.”
It’s not clear how much each county will receive, as $1.8 million will go to each region. Montgomery County is in what’s called the western region with Clark, Preble, Fayette and Clinton counties. Butler County is in the southwest region with Hamilton and Clermont counties.
“Montgomery is probably going to get a larger share than say, Preble, but we don’t know that breakdown yet,” said John Trott, the executive director of the Area 7 Workforce Board, which will administer the grants for the western region.
Services will be tailored to local needs but may include any of the following:
- Testing of innovative approaches to combat addiction issues — for example, by supporting employers that develop second-chance policies and hire individuals in recovery.
- Job training, career services and supportive services to individuals affected by the opioid epidemic. Supportive services can include health, mental health and addiction treatment, drug testing and other efforts, such as purchasing work clothes or providing transportation assistance.
- Building an addiction treatment, mental health and pain management workforce, including the addition of a new addiction services apprenticeship at two-year colleges.
“This money has to be used on folks who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Trott said. This might not cover some people in recovery whose work histories are not stellar, but in conjunction with a previously announced grant from the Bureau of Workers Compensation, the hope is many people in recovery will be able to access jobs, according to Bret Crow, spokesman for ODJFS.
Clark State Community College has already expressed interest in hosting an apprenticeship program, Trott said. The grant could also help fund certificates for peer support counselors and addiction specialists — jobs currently much in demand, he said.