The U.S. Department of Labor announced the award of five grants totaling more than $103 million to five state agencies to continue and expand pilot projects to help newly injured and ill workers remain in the workforce.
Agencies in Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Vermont will receive funds to begin the second phase of demonstration projects in the development of the Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network. RETAIN focuses on implementing and evaluating stay-at-work and return-to-work strategies to help people to remain effective contributors to the labor force following illness or injury. States will use grant funds to improve coordination among employers, healthcare providers and other stakeholders able to help workers find alternatives as they decide whether to stay at or return to work following illness or injury.
“The grants awarded today will support these states’ efforts to help workers keep their place as valued members of the workforce and avoid the kinds of severe economic loss workers may suffer when illness or injury occurs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “With millions of American workers forced out of work by injury or illness each year, expanding strategies like these will promote inclusive workforce practices and bolster our economic recovery at a time when our focus must be on stopping and recovering from this pandemic.”
RETAIN is collaborative effort by the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in partnership with its Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration. The department has awarded Phase 2 grants to projects with a particular focus on underserved and underrepresented communities, both disproportionately hurt by the pandemic. As part of the grant program, the SSA will fund an independent evaluation of Phase 2 recipients while ODEP and ETA will jointly fund a contract to provide technical assistance for the program.
The grant recipients will receive awards as follows:
- Kansas Department of Commerce $21,600,000
- Kentucky Office of Employment and Training $21,600,000
- Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development $19,518,509
- Ohio Department of Job and Family Services $18,800,000
- Vermont Department of Labor $21,600,000
ODEP works to increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities by developing and influencing policies and practices.