July 26. 2018 2:35AM

Beyond the Stigma: $5 million grant means hundreds in state eligible for job training

By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM
New Hampshire Union Leader


WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Granite Staters affected by the opioid crisis will be eligible for job training and other employment support, under a $5 million federal grant coming to New Hampshire.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday that it is sending more than $22 million to six states hard hit by the drug epidemic. And New Hampshire is getting the largest grant, $5 million.

The money is in addition to nearly $23 million in federal funds coming to the state Department of Health and Human Services to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

The new funding, from the National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant program, is designed to provide reemployment services for individuals affected by “the health and economic effects of widespread opioid use, addiction and overdose,” according to a news release from the labor department.

In its application for the grant, the state Department of Business and Economic Affairs proposed serving 400 “dislocated” workers and new entrants in the workforce who have been directly or indirectly impacted by the drug epidemic.

It also proposes including workers seeking to enter professions that can help address the crisis and its causes, such as peer support workers, licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselors and licensed clinical social workers.

Providers often cite a workforce shortage in New Hampshire among such positions as a key barrier to access to services. And on Monday, during a public hearing to solicit ideas for spending the DHHS opioid grant funding, several speakers called for employment support for those coming out of residential treatment programs or jail.

The state workforce proposal relies on key partnerships among New Hampshire organizations to provide educational resources, job training and work opportunities for the targeted populations. The Community College System of New Hampshire, for instance, will be tapped to provide training to program participants, who will also have the opportunity to participate in CCSNH’s work-readiness program.

And the proposal calls for developing collaborative partnerships among health care providers and drug treatment and recovery centers in Manchester and Nashua, a model that could then be replicated in other areas of the state. It also stresses on-the-job training, including apprenticeships.

Other states receiving grant money are Alaska, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington. The funding program comes under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014.