Gov. Jay Inslee today announced nearly $5 million in new federal grant funds to help Washingtonians affected by opioid-use disorder find employment. The National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant will support projects in Snohomish, Grays Harbor, Mason, Thurston, Lewis and Pacific counties.

The Employment Security Department, Workforce Snohomish (Snohomish County Workforce Development Council), and Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council (PacMtn) will use the grant money to provide job training and other career-development services for people who have lost employment while receiving treatment for opioid use disorder, or those who have lost work while caring for a friend or family member with an addiction. The funds will also help train people interested in working in professions that fight the opioid epidemic.

Washington was one of six states to receive the funding.

“Securing this grant money allows our state to take an innovative approach to addressing the devastating loss of a job that some Washingtonians experience when swept up in the opioid crisis,” Inslee said. “I’m proud that the Employment Security Department and our local partners can help people find a path out of addiction and back into the workforce. Hopefully their good work will turn into something we can expand statewide.”

To coordinate services, the three organizations plan to work closely with community health providers and health-related organizations through the opioid treatment networks the state is creating. They will also work with justice and law enforcement organizations, faith and community based organizations, educational institutions, and employer and industry organizations. 

“The power of a job is really the power of hope,” ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said. “We look forward to bringing the power of the workforce system and all our partners together to help individuals fighting or recovering from opioid addiction with the resources they need to find a new job and a better life.”

“Snohomish County represents only about 10 percent of the state’s population, yet we experience 18 percent of the state’s heroin-related deaths—and our work can help turn the tide by helping individuals find the economic security they need to build a new life,” Workforce Snohomish CEO Erin Monroe said.

To address the greatest need, the Workforce Development Councils will collaborate with, and often be embedded in, community organizations that serve populations commonly affected by opioid addiction. That includes homeless youth and adults, youth under the care of state juvenile rehabilitation facilities, adults in and out of county jails, mothers addicted while pregnant, and people with mental health challenges.

“These funds help overcome another huge barrier to community and individual prosperity,” PacMtn CEO Cheryl Fambles said. “We have a strong network of partners ready to roll up our sleeves to address this problem. We will train more people to help those affected by this addiction find jobs. This is an important part of the healing process.”

For those affected by opioid use disorder, effective treatment is available. Call the 24-hour Washington Recovery Help Line at 866-789-1511 or visit WARecoveryHelpline.org.

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