The state of Kentucky on Tuesday announced a new initiative incentivizing employers to hire people recovering from addiction.
The Kentucky Transformational Employment Program will help alleviate two problems, leaders wrote in a news release: The commonwealth’s low workforce participation rate and the struggle that many recovering drug users experience while trying to find a job.
“When you have a smaller workforce (as Kentucky does), you have to make the most of the workforce that you have,” said LaKisha Miller, executive director of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Workforce Center. “And part of that is being able to give fair chances to people all across the state.”
KTEP provides liability protection to business owners who sign up to participate and makes big promises, including that it will strengthen the economy and help recovering drug users maintain their sobriety by creating stability — via consistent employment — in their lives.
It also offers alternatives to firing for employers who discover a worker has tested positive for drug use or admits to having a drug problem.
“So if an employee that's working with you, you know, they test positive for a drug screening, you don't have to terminate them,” Miller said. “You can simply, if you're enrolled in KTEP, then connect them to treatment providers that can create a comprehensive plan for them."
M.E. Kobes, who helps recovering drug users maintain their sobriety and find work at Erlanger’s Brightview Treatment Center, said the program is good news for everyone.
“You know, right now there's not a lot of people working because of COVID, and I think that's been a big challenge with employers in general,” Kobes said. “And if there are people out there that are willing and ready to work, let's give them the opportunity that they deserve.”