In a visit to a Columbus, Ohio substance abuse treatment center, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced a new grant pilot program aimed at assisting workers and those affected by the opioid crisis.
The program, which falls under the umbrella of already-existing National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grants, provides resources to states and other eligible applicants to respond to large, unexpected layoff events causing significant job losses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website.
“The tragedies of opioid misuse and abuse devastate families and communities, and keep too many Americans out of the workforce,” Secretary Acosta said in a public statement. “President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, committing the full resources of his Administration to helping Americans impacted by the crisis. The importance of a job and work in reducing opioid abuse cannot be overstated. The Department of Labor’s grant pilot program will focus on returning individuals impacted by opioids to the workplace.”
Initial funds will cover seven to ten pilot programs with awards totaling $21 million. According to the DOL, the grants awarded will help provide training to workers, new entrants to the workforce and anyone who has been impacted by the opioid crisis. Funds also be allocated for workforce development in professions that address or prevent problems related to opioids in American communities, such as addiction treatment service providers, pain management and therapy service providers and mental health treatment providers.
Secretary Acosta announced the program during a visit to the Maryhaven Stabilization Center in Columbus, Ohio, one of the cities most impacted by the crisis. The Columbus visit also included a roundtable discussion at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce between job creators, state and local government officials and industry group leaders about ideas and strategies to get more Americans back to work after opioid misuse or abuse, according to the DOL.
“Every day, 11 people in Ohio die from complications of opioids,” Secretary Acosta said. “It is clear that we stand a much better chance of defeating the opioid crisis by working together.”