US Labor Department gives Rhode Island additional grant funds in opioid fight

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced Tuesday that it would be providing an additional $1.3 million in grants to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training to respond to the opioid crisis.

The National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant would be used for employment and training services for eligible individuals in five counties that have been disproportionately affected by opioid use, addiction, and overdose.

The project provides the counties with disaster-relief employment in jobs that address the economic and health effects of the opioid crisis – such as peer recovery specialist, but also provides employment and training services to individuals affected by the opioid crisis as well as individuals looking to obtain careers in healthcare professions related to addiction, treatment, prevention and pain management.

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, the Dislocated Worker Grants temporarily expand the capacity of state dislocated worker programs by increasing their funding in light of large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses.

In 2018, Rhode Island received nearly $4 million in Dislocated Worker grant funding – one of only six states to split $22 million in DOL funds to reemploy those impacted by the opioid crisis. The funding that year was in addition to another $12.5 million in federal funding the Rhode Island delegation secured to fight against opioid addiction.

According to the National Institutes for Health, Rhode Island’s opioid prescribing rate – at 43 prescriptions for every 100 persons, was lower than the national average of 51.4 prescriptions in 2018. Additionally, out of the 46,802 opioid overdose deaths in the United States in 2018, only 267 of them were in Rhode Island, or .05 percent.

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