Grant to provide employment services for those in recovery


A regional workforce board that covers Jackson County and the surrounding area has announced it will receive federal funding to help provide employment services to individuals and companies affected by the opioid epidemic.

The Southeast Indiana Workforce Board was allocated $1.5 million of a $4.7 million federal Dislocated Worker Grant that was awarded to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to help ease the transition of people recovering with substance use disorders back into the workplace. It will also fund positions such as community health workers, recovery coaches and peer navigators.

The money will be earmarked for Indiana Department of Workforce Development Region Nine, a 10-county region of southeast Indiana that includes Bartholomew, Jackson and Jennings counties.

The grant seeks to help strengthen community partnerships, systems building, mental health access funding, job training and other needs across the region, said Kurt Kegerreis, executive director of WorkOne Southeast, one of the state’s regional employment centers.

The Southeast Indiana Workforce Board oversees WorkOne Southeast’s offices.

“Employment is an essential part of recovery for individuals interested in working,” Kegerreis said.

Many of the details, including how much money will be allocated in each county and which organizations or programs will receive funding, have yet to be determined, said Amanda Getzendanner, project and administrative manager at the Southeast Indiana Workforce Investment Board.

“At this point in time, the structure of (the funding) is very loose,” she said. “We’re still in the planning phases, but the hope is to spread it around evenly across the region.”

The overall $4.7 million grant awarded to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development will go toward providing job training, coaching and reintegrating individuals with substance use problems into the workforce in a 25-county region of eastern and southeastern Indiana, according to the department’s website.

Jackson County and the surrounding area, similar to much of the country, have seen a surge in opioid overdoses, emergency room visits and opioid-related deaths in recent years.

In 2017, there were 12 opioid overdose deaths in Jackson County, compared to four in 2016, according to data from the Indiana State Department of Health, which tracks causes of death by county of residence, not necessarily the county in which the person died.

Kegerreis said he hopes the funding can be used to help build a bridge between the employment world and other programs already in place through the 10-county region, including the newly-opened ASAP Hub in Columbus.

“We recognize there is a whole network of wonderful organizations doing wonderful work in the substance abuse space,” he said. “We do not want to duplicate their work.”

No posts to display