COLUMUS — Ohio will invest $8 million over the next two years to help employers and unemployed workers in 16 counties overcome issues related to the opiate epidemic and to help build the workforce to address the crisis, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced last week.
The agency will use a Trade and Economic Transition National Dislocated Worker Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support employers who hire individuals in recovery, to create an addiction services apprenticeship at community colleges, and to provide job training and other services to help unemployed workers overcome their addictions and find jobs.
“Drug addiction and overdose deaths have become the most pressing public health issue and workforce challenge facing Ohio,” said ODJFS Director Cynthia Dungey. “This grant will help businesses rebuild their workforces and individuals rebuild their lives. We’re excited to partner with local workforce professionals, community colleges and businesses to address the workforce challenges created by the opiate epidemic.”
Each of the following four regions will receive $1.8 million:
Western Region − Preble, Montgomery, Clark, Fayette and Clinton counties
Southwest Region − Butler, Hamilton and Clermont counties
Southern Region − Brown, Adams, Ross, Pike, Scioto and Lawrence counties
Mahoning Valley Region − Trumbull and Mahoning counties
Services will be tailored to local needs but may include any of the following:
• The 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 opiate epidemic. Supportive services can include anything from health, mental health and addiction treatment to drug testing, help purchasing work clothes or transportation assistance.
• Building the addiction treatment, mental health and pain management workforce, including a new addiction services apprenticeship at two-year colleges.
ODJFS has many partners in this effort, including the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation; the departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Higher Education, Medicaid, Public Safety, and Health; 16 OhioMeansJobs centers; 12 Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services boards; two-year colleges; Community Action Agencies; libraries and mental health treatment providers. Additional partners may join as the planning progresses.