WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) today introduced the Collectively Achieving Recovery and Employment (CARE) Act, bipartisan legislation to address the workforce shortage created by the opioid epidemic. The bill 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.

“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.”

“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,” Senator Brown said

The CARE Act 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 West Virginians and Ohioans 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 Donald J. 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. The legislation introduced today 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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