New Grant from Retaining Employment & Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN)

*Release sent by the Washington State Employment Security Department

Washington to expand successful programs to help injured or ill employees return to work 

OLYMPIA – As Washington state prepares to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, the Employment Security Department (ESD) is celebrating a $2.5 million federal grant to help up to 400 workers who develop a potential injury or illness remain at work, return to work or attain a new job.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) will fund a demonstration project (WA-RETAIN) focused on two specific populations: state employees at risk of filing long-term disability claims and people not eligible for workers’ compensation who are at risk of leaving the  workforce. Washington is one of eight states to receive this grant funding for the next 18 months.

Generally, the longer injured workers are out of work due to disability, the less likely they are to return to work at all. In fact, an employee who is out of work for six months has less than a 50 percent chance of returning to gainful employment. If lost time reaches one year, the chances of successfully returning to work drop to 10 percent.

The RETAIN Demonstration Projects are modeled after a program operating in Washington state for injured workers covered under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Program. The success of this effort in helping workers return to work sooner is one of several reasons why the state Department of Labor & Industries was able to propose a reduction in workers’ compensation premiums for 2019. 

WA-RETAIN will engage the Center of Occupational Health and Education Alliance of Western Washington as well as other state and local partners, including the Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) in King and Snohomish counties. Securing this Phase1 grant makes Washington eligible to compete for one of four grants of up to $19.75 million each to expand on the model created in the demonstration project.

“We want all Washington workers to have access to great employment opportunities and resources they need to be successful,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. 

“The WDCs of King and Snohomish counties have been highly successful in serving workers with disabilities and their employers to date and we look forward to working with them on this moving forward to amplify and grow their efforts.”

“We are honored to receive these funds to build a model that helps workers reattach to the workforce,” said Erin Monroe, CEO of Workforce Snohomish. “The longer workers stay out of the workforce, the less likely they are to return to work. Our goal is to help people on the pathway to economic prosperity.”

“With the staggering rate of one in 10 working age Americans having a substantial disability that impacts their opportunities to work, we’re thrilled and honored to continue to support our workforce on their pathways towards self-sufficiency,” said Dot Fallihee, interim CEO of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. “Our WDC’s 47 WorkSource sites are proud to offer a depth of employment resources and opportunities for our residents.”

The WA-RETAIN project supports Gov. Jay Inslee’s goal of increasing the employment rate of working age people with disabilities in Washington and supplements efforts by the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment (GCDE). Toby Olson, Executive Secretary for the GCDE, will lead the project.

More information about the RETAIN grant is available at the US Dept. of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy site.

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Contacts:   
Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, 360-902-9289
Toby Olson, Executive Secretary of the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment: 360-902-9489

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Funding Awarded for Re-entry Pathways for Incarcerated

$500,000 to connect current and formally incarcerated with work opportunity and access

Seattle, Wash.The Workforce Development Council (WDC) of Seattle-King County, is honored to accept an award of $500,000 from the US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration to support employment opportunity access for persons having been involved in the criminal justice system throughout Seattle-King County. The WDC is one of ten recipients nationwide in an effort to improve re-entry outcomes for community members returning home from confinement. 

Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez commented regarding the grant’s announcement: “Why wait for inmates to be released before giving them support they need to re-enter the workforce? (I’m) proud to live in a nation of second chances.”

This Workforce Integration Project will establish a One-Stop American Job Center site, known locally as WorkSource, in the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent which is a part of the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. Partnerships with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, King County, and South Seattle College will make this great work possible. The project will establish a coordinated system of re-entry pathways designed to help persons reconnect to employment and education opportunities, as well as access the wrap-around services needed to be successful community members and reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system.

Executive Dow Constantine comments: “King County is committed to reducing recidivism and creating employment pathways for people who need a second chance. As part of our commitment to equity and social justice, we support the progressive efforts of local organizations and justice leaders as they foster the potential of all people and build stronger, safer communities.”

“This partnership will build upon our region’s robust employment system,” says Marléna Sessions, Chief Executive Officer of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. “With this project, we hope to lead systemic change efforts in serving adults who face barriers to employment and self-sufficiency after incarceration.”

“This support from the Department of Labor will allow us to advance our mission of making sure past offenders have the tools, education and support to find good jobs as they transition back into their communities,” South Seattle College President Gary Oertli said.  “We look forward to working closely with our partners in providing these citizens with the opportunities they deserve to achieve stability and success.”

Pamela Banks, CEO of the Urban League, remarks: “This grant in partnership with the Workforce Development Council and partners furthers the Urban League’s mission of empowering communities to thrive by securing educational and economic opportunities. We are honored to engage in this work of supporting our residents’ self-sufficiency upon returning to their community and families.” 

Media Contact
Hannah Mello, Communications Program Manager
Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County
hmello@seakingwdc.org  | (206) 448-0474