FRANKFORT — In an effort to connect Kentuckians recovering from addiction with employment services, Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear have launched “Reworking Kentucky,” a new component of the chronic substance abuse and addiction program Recovery Kentucky.
The Beshears were joined at events in Henderson and Lexington this week by business and health leaders who are partnering with the state on this initiative.
Recovery Kentucky helps Kentuckians overcome chronic substance abuse and addiction, and move toward a life of sobriety and productivity. It provides supportive housing, a stable place to live and a support system to help men and women recovering from substance abuse and addiction through Recovery Kentucky Centers across the state.
Reworking Kentucky expands assistance and support to these individuals who are exiting a Recovery Kentucky program by helping them obtain an entry-level, workplace-ready assessment from a local Kentucky Career Center and to secure employment with a participating partner company.
“We must continue to support at every level those Kentuckians who are struggling with addiction,” Gov. Beshear said. “Finding them stable employment is another critical step on the road to breaking their cycle of drug dependence. If Kentucky is to maintain its economic momentum and competitiveness long term, we must help all Kentuckians find successful job placement and create new sources of talent and a dedicated workforce for Kentucky businesses.”
Gov. Ernie Fletcher created Recovery Kentucky in 2005. In 2008, Gov. Beshear established the Recovery Kentucky Task Force, a 21-member panel created to ensure the continued effectiveness and financial success of the Recovery Kentucky program.
Mrs. Beshear, a member of the task force, developed the idea to strengthen the ties between the Recovery Kentucky Centers, Kentucky Career Centers, and statewide and local employers.
“We all love a comeback story,” said Mrs. Beshear. “I believe those that have completed the Recovery Kentucky program have proven they have the dedication and tenacity that make for good employees. Because nothing, absolutely nothing is as hard as overcoming addiction.”
Under Reworking Kentucky, Kentucky Career Center staff will work with individuals to develop a plan for employment including any individualized supports needed and will regularly discuss progress with the individual, making adjustments to the plan where necessary.
The individual will also be provided appropriate guidance and counseling concerning the implications of their disabilities (substance abuse and any co-existing disabilities) on their ability to search for, obtain and maintain employment.
After graduation from Recovery Kentucky, individuals will work with staff members to identify possible employment and training options for the individual with participating employers and training programs.
Participating statewide and local employer partners will ensure the availability of employment opportunities for participants regardless of home location. The individual will still complete an interview, attend an orientation and complete the normal hiring process within the company as appropriate.
The Kentucky Career Center staff will be a resource for the individual throughout the assessment and employment process, and will work with a designated human resources manager/coach within the company to follow up on progress.
The First Lady encourages the local business community to use Recovery Kentucky and Kentucky Career Centers to utilize a whole new pool of potential employees under Reworking Kentucky.
“You will find the Recovery Kentucky graduates to be hard-working, dedicated and committed to improving themselves and their communities,” she said.
“The Kentucky Career Center system has a number of resources for these individuals and relationships with employers to help make re-employment a smooth and effective process,” said Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Tom Zawacki. “We will help reassure employers that there are supports in place when they offer opportunities to individuals in their communities.”
“We are hearing from businesses across Kentucky that they can’t find the right talent,” said Dave Adkisson, Kentucky Chamber president. “The Chamber will assist in communicating with its members that individuals coming out of recovery can help meet identified talent needs.”
“In addition to this being the right thing to do, it also helps address the need to have more qualified workers in the labor pool,” said Erik Dunnigan, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “Businesses tell us their top concern is finding and keeping good employees, so having these additional workers from which to choose will provide employers with additional qualified candidates.”
A 2014 report, from the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR), shows that individuals who enroll in substance abuse programs at one of the state’s 14 Recovery Kentucky centers are more likely to abstain from drugs and are less likely to spend time in jail.
The report also found significant cost savings attributed to Recovery Kentucky center participation. Every dollar spent on recovery services resulted in a $3.59 return in avoided costs to the state. Savings are attributed to tax dollars that would have been spent on unemployment services, health aid, public safety and other services the state provides for substance-dependent individuals.