WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), and Doug Jones (D-AL), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Jobs Plus Recovery Act to incorporate job training into drug addiction recovery programs. The bipartisan legislation would establish a pilot program that gives individuals impacted by opioid addiction or substance use disorders access to job training and support services to aid in their recovery and lower their likelihood of relapse. Research has shown that having consistent work improves the likelihood that addiction treatment will be successful. The pilot program allows local communities to create partnerships between substance use disorder treatment and recovery providers, as well as job services and training providers. The legislation will help communities in Virginia and across the country where the opioid crisis has had severe consequences on the economy and local workforce.
“The substance abuse epidemic has had a devastating effect on communities across the country, and a lack of job opportunity has exacerbated this crisis,” Kaine said. “We must find a way to address this crisis and to help those who are trying to get back on their feet, stay there. By ensuring that job training is a part of the recovery process, we are investing in better outcomes, which will have a positive impact on the economy, employers, and entire communities.”
“During one of my recent Fair Shot Agenda roundtables, I heard from an Indiana plastics manufacturing firm that took a chance by hiring a Hoosier who had struggled with addiction issues. This week, that same Hoosier is graduating from drug treatment court and serves as a valuable employee. With the Jobs Plus Recovery Act, we can replicate this success story across Indiana and the entire country. This legislation would create pilot programs that help individuals struggling with opioid addition access employment opportunities. Our goal is to give businesses the tools needed to positively impact addiction treatment outcomes, and to change how the nation treats individuals with addiction issues so that they can turn their lives around and meaningfully contribute to the economy,” said Young.
“Across the country and in Alabama, the opioid epidemic has devastated so many families, communities, and local economies. When folks are working hard to recover from opioid addiction, we should make sure they have the support they need to be successful and re-enter their communities fully. Through this job-training initiative, we are taking steps to help them thrive in recovery and break the dangerous cycle of addiction,” Jones said.
In 2014, Congress passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which provides job training assistance to individuals with a barrier to employment. The Jobs Plus Recovery Act would allow programs funded through WIOA to provide targeted support services to individuals with substance use disorders and consider their needs as part of state and local strategic planning processes to tackle the opioid epidemic. It would also allow community workforce entities to educate employers about how to hire and retain employees with a history of substance use disorders. This pilot program would be the first to integrate job skills training with addiction treatment and recovery. The program would provide supportive services to ensure participant success in work-based learning that would be divided between three stages: pre-employment, early employment, and continuing employment, which may include peer recovery support services, networking and mentorship opportunities, and other wraparound services.
“This legislation, which NAWB is proud to endorse, will play an important role in combatting America’s opioid epidemic. It builds on the well-established link between recovery and job security. Those suffering from addiction are often in need of opportunities and purpose. This aligns with NAWB’s forty-year history of delivering on economic opportunity for Americans through skills training and job placement. We are partners in the effort to help those affected by this opioid crisis find their purpose through the workforce,” CEO of the National Association of Workforce Boards Ronald Painter said.
"Virginia Career Works of the Blue Ridge Region is proud to support the Jobs Plus Recovery Act of 2018. While our region can proclaim strong economic growth and historically low unemployment, opioid abuse is a significant barrier for people still seeking employment or those that have given up hope. This legislation will make it easier for citizens to access needed addiction treatment, while also helping them create a path towards economic prosperity. It will also grow our workforce to meet the expanding employment needs of our businesses. Local Workforce Development Boards will be a critical partner in providing hope and opportunity to those most affected by this crisis," Executive Director of Virginia Blue Ridge Works in Roanoke, VA Jake Gilmer said.
Kaine has been a leader in the Senate both on efforts to address the opioid epidemic and to support workforce development programs that prepare Virginians for good-paying, in-demand jobs. In December, Kaine co-sponsored The International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tools including hi-tech chemical screening devices to help detect and interdict fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids. Kaine has pushed for funding to support health education initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic in vulnerable communities in Virginia. In October, Kaine introduced the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, which would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids and opioid addiction.
The Jobs Plus Recovery Act is endorsed by the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Jobs for the Future (JFF), the National Skills Coalition (NSC), Facing Addiction with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the McShin Foundation and the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB).
Text of the Jobs Plus Recovery Act is available here.