Brown, Capito Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address Workforce Shortage Created By Opioid Epidemic

Senators’ Bill Utilizes Existing Resources to Fund Combined Addiction Treatment, Workforce Training Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced bipartisan legislation to address the workforce shortage created by the addiction crisis.

The Senators’ bill, the Collectively Achieving Recovery and Employment (CARE) Act, would combine existing grant programs at the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a six-year pilot project to combine job training and addiction recovery services.

“I hear the same thing from Mayors all across Ohio: employers can’t fill openings because workers can’t pass drug tests, and Ohioans struggling with addiction can’t find a job to help them get back on their feet.  We know addiction treatment and workforce training programs can be successful separately, but this crisis requires them to work together,” said Brown. 

“For individuals on the road to recovery, reentering the workforce can be a real challenge. At the same time, many employers are having difficulty filling open positions in industries that are critical to growing our economy,” Senator Capito said. “This bipartisan legislation will help those who have struggled with addiction get good-paying jobs as they work to turn their lives around and also fill important workforce needs. I look forward to continuing to work together with Senator Brown to help these men and women get back on their feet and build a brighter future for themselves.”

Brown and Capito’s bill would allow counties and Tribes to apply for competitive grants directly as long as they have a qualified local workforce organization and nonprofit addiction treatment organization willing to participate. The bill also directs DOL and HHS to establish certain reporting criteria grantees would have to meet.

The bipartisan bill is a result of discussions with community leaders and mental health/addiction treatment professionals who say employers are having trouble finding workers who can pass drug tests, while Ohioans and West Virginians struggling with addiction can’t find a job to help them get back on their feet.

The CARE Act builds on the National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant pilot program supported by President Trump and announced by U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta last month. The Dislocated Worker grants will help workers impacted by the opioid crisis acquire new skills and help train drug addiction treatment providers and other professions that address problems related to opioids. Brown and Capito’s bill will expand on the Dislocated Worker grant program and allow for more coordination of resources between DOL and HHS.

More information on the CARE Act can be found here.

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