PROVIDENCE, R.I. - At a one-stop job training center today in Providence, Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced a new Recovery-Friendly Workplace Initiative -- supported by a $4 million federal labor grant -- to expand skills training and job opportunities for Rhode Islanders in recovery. In addition to the job training funding and programs, the new Recovery-Friendly Workplace Initiative will also provide guidance for employers looking to create more supportive work environments for employees and potential employees in recovery or living with addiction and to address the stigma of addiction in the workplace that many people face.
"For many Rhode Islanders in recovery, a good job is essential to their recovery. People who make a daily commitment to their recovery can make enormous contributions to our economy, and we need to encourage more employers to create recovery-friendly workplaces," said Governor Raimondo. "The Recovery-Friendly Workplace Initiative will expand job training opportunities for people in recovery and provide employers with support they need to create opportunities for those who need them the most."
Governor Raimondo appointed an ad-hoc committee -- co-chaired by Rhode Island College President Frank Sanchez, Ph.D. and Susan Andrews, M.D., Electric Boat's Medical Director -- to help develop guidelines for businesses to be recognized as "Recovery-Friendly." These guidelines will function as a "how-to" for the state's employers on what they can do that can go a long way to making workplaces more welcoming and supportive of people in recovery, with specific guidance on what employers can do to ensure that their employees attain long-term recovery.
Potential examples include:
• Guidance for employers on how to recognize the signs of substance use disorder and how to guide employees into treatment.
• Review of policies or resources available through employers' insurance plans.
• Model employee personnel policies for insertion in companies' employee handbooks.
• How to coach other employees on how to help people with substance use disorder.
"I am pleased to co-chair this important initiative with Tom Coderre and Dr. Susan Andrews. Rhode Island College has been committed to supporting individuals who have substance abuse disorders for a long time, through our social work and counseling programs as well as our undergraduate major in addiction studies. On the employment side, we have been actively involved with Real Jobs RI, developing health-related programs geared toward getting people back into the workforce," said President Sanchez.
Since taking office, Governor Raimondo has brought a diverse group of advocates, health professionals, business leaders and others together to tackle the overdose and addiction crisis. The State's overdose prevention action plan has been lauded by the National Governors Association and other organizations as a model for other states.
"It is our moral duty to support our community members who want and need help," said Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. "Working with recovery advocates and our business community we can play a stronger role in helping those on the road to entering and staying in recovery through economic opportunity. I'm proud to join Governor Raimondo in announcing this effort and appreciate her leadership on the issue."
Under the Governor's leadership, Rhode Island has increased funding for treatment and recovery services, expanded access to naloxone and established the nation's first medication-assisted treatment program in the state prison. The ACI program has contributed to a 60 percent reduction in post incarceration overdose deaths since it launched last year.
"I've worked with the recovery community for more than a decade and a half. For so many of the people I've met and been to recovery meetings with, support from family and a good job are two of the most critical components of recovery," said acting Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals Tom Coderre. "This new initiative will give more Rhode Islanders a shot at a good job and will help employers play an important role to change negative perceptions of addiction. I'm proud to stand with Governor Raimondo to announce this important initiative."
"This is an issue that cuts across communities, industries and workplaces," said DLT Director Scott Jensen. "We are committed to giving our neighbors and colleagues in recovery the career opportunities and job security they need to be successful, in addition to ensuring Rhode Island has the trained professionals needed to support them along the way."
Governor Raimondo has hired people into senior positions who are openly in recovery, including her Chief of Staff Brett Smiley and Director Coderre. At today's press conference, she encouraged other employers to follow her lead.