Six organizations – in the six-hardest hit counties in the state – have been awarded $3.9 million in funding from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to provide training and support to individuals whose work has been interrupted due to the opioid epidemic.
Grants were awarded to agencies in Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties – all of which, according to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office, saw increases in the number of overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018.
The agencies agreed to partner with community-based organizations to provide opportunities for employment to 600 opioid-affected individuals, the Governor’s office said. Those participants can be people in recovery or those directly impacted by addiction such as relatives, friends or caregivers.
The six grant recipients are: Jewish Family Services of Atlantic County Inc., Center for Family Services Inc., Blessed Ministries Inc., the Township of Woodbridge, Monmouth County Division of Workforce Development, and the County of Ocean-Department of Human Services in Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties, respectively.
The Murphy administration said program participants will receive assessments on work-readiness, peer support, career coaching and placement in high-demand jobs.
The governor’s office said that the grants reflect a new effort in the state to combine employment and recovery opportunities.
“Recognizing that steady employment is one determinant of long-term recovery, we are proud of these efforts to coordinate the physical and mental health needs with the workforce needs of those affected by opioids,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a prepared statement.
In January, Murphy announced that he would dedicate $100 million to The Opioid Recovery Employment Program, or Pathways to Recovery, from the Fiscal Year 2019 budget to fight the opioid crises. His Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposes the same appropriation.
New Jersey had its most recorded overdose deaths in one year in 2018 with 3,163, the administration said, and according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state had one of the highest upticks in fatal overdoes in the country, at 21 percent.