'PROSPER' project to benefit job seekers in recovery
Workforce Solutions for North Central Pennsylvania is launching a new program that will serve individuals in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse disorders.
Pam Streich, executive director, said the “PROSPER from Recovery to Career” project has been a collaborative effort with Business Engagement and Project Manager for Workforce Solutions Terry Hinton.
Funding for this project came from the “INSPIRE” (Investments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems) grant, a $10 million initiative of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), according to www.arc.gov.
In November 2021, the ARC awarded $5.5 million to 17 projects in the region that will support the SUD (Substance Use Disorder) recovery-to-employment continuum “by training and certifying recovery specialists, establishing cross-sector community recovery partnerships, expanding peer recovery support networks, launching recovery-to-work programs with a full spectrum of coordinated support services, and more,” according to the www.arc.gov.
The PROSPER project’s mission is to provide job seekers in recovery a sustainable plan for job re-entry or job enhancement.
“We went after this grant to fund this project due to employers not being able to find people – to find an untapped labor pool,” said Streich. “We are extremely excited and proud to be implementing this project.”
Targeting this untapped pool of workers in recovery who want to remain sober can assist in the labor shortage of skilled workers, according to the project summary.
The PROSPER project will include a recovery system of several components, including providing services to customers that offer solutions for transportation barriers, relying on local alcohol and drug agencies for knowledge and talent, offering certified recovery specialist training for program participants, support from faith-based communities and churches, promoting awareness and training for employers, ensuring project outcomes are met and reducing/addressing the stigma that employees face in the workplace, the summary says.
The grant for the project was awarded in December 2021, said Hinton.
“We are in the first-quarter phase of the project now,” she said. “That involves building our structure, and convening the advisory committee.”
So far, two advisory meetings have been held, as well as multiple information sessions that provided stakeholders a review, mostly with CareerLink staff, Hinton noted.
“The Certified Recovery Specialist training, a key component of this project, is scheduled for late summer,” she said. “There are lots of moving parts, and different phases.”
Involved job seekers will be introduced in May, if all goes as planned, Hinton noted.
Another great aspect to this program, Hinton noted, is employer training, which she anticipates having a session for in April.
The local workforce development area, which includes six counties –Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter –will “partner with existing comprehensive providers of alcohol and drug treatment programs” for this initiative.
“While there is growing support and funding for treatment and prevention for SUD, there is an unmet need in services and programs available to assist individuals in recovery with obtaining meaningful employment,” the PROSPER project summary says.