In hopes of easing the impacts of the opioid crisis in the state, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded Maryland $1,975,085 grant fund to help former addicts find employment.
Maryland, along with six other states, is receiving a combined $22 million in grant money, as part of the federal government plan to help lessen the effects of the opioid crisis.
The funding will help people affected by the opioid crisis, often through addiction or a close relative that has become addicted, find employment through training and education and help match prospective employees to employers.
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“Maryland is one of six states that received funding to develop programs within the state to directly address the opioid epidemic. Skills training for peer recovery specialists is critical to the ongoing care necessary for a full recovery, as well as reemployment efforts for those looking to reenter the workforce,” said Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in a statement.
While the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which trains and educates people to help them reenter the workforce began under the Obama administration, the program is now being used as part of the Trump administration’s attempt to tackle the opioid crisis. Last year, President Donald J. Trump declared the opioid crisis to be a national emergency and promised to dedicate more federal resources to dealing with the issue.
“President Trump is fully committed to fighting the opioid epidemic, which has devastated lives, families, and communities across the nation,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said in a statement. “A family-sustaining job is a critical step toward long-term recovery and healing from opioid misuse and abuse. These grants will provide services to help Americans impacted by opioids rejoin the workforce.”
Like President Trump, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has also declared a state of emergency over the opioid crisis. In June Hogan’s administration announced $40 million in funding for prevention, treatment and law enforcement.
But while Hogan has said the opioid crisis is a top priority for his administration, overdose deaths are continuing to increase. According to a report released by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, opioid deaths continued to increase in 2017 with 2,009 opioid overdose deaths in Maryland compared to the 1856 overdose death in 2016.
Hogan’s political opponents used the reports data showing increased overdose deaths as evidence that the governor’s policies related to addiction treatment are not working.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most challenging public health crises of our time and it is clear that Larry Hogan’s incremental steps are not getting the job done,” said Maryland Democratic Party spokesperson Fabion Seaton.