The Vermont Department of Labor has awarded a federal grant of $ 21.6 million to help Vermonters return to work after an injury

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Montpelier, Vermont – The Vermont Department of Labor today announced that Vermont has received a $ 21.6 million four-year grant from the US Department of Labor to help residents of Vermont who develop a potentially health problem disabling to stay at work or return to work.

“Meeting the needs of Vermont workers and providing support to those looking to return to work are key functions of the Department of Labor. But when illness or injury impacts the ability to work, it has a big impact on them personally and on our entire workforce, “said Commissioner Michael Harrington.” This program, which helps Vermonters to stay or return to work earlier in the process brings exciting resources and approaches that can be easily incorporated into the state’s COVID employment stimulus plan.

Vermont is one of five states to receive a second-phase federal Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury / Illness Network (RETAIN) demonstration grant aimed at improving work outcomes for Vermonters with injuries or illnesses. Vermont was one of eight states to receive Phase 1 funding for RETAIN in 2018.

Through RETAIN, 68 primary care clinics across the state will receive resources to help injured and ill workers return to work. In half of the clinics, a Return to Work Coordinator, supported by a team of statewide experts, will work one-to-one with individuals, healthcare providers, employers and health professionals. job training to fill in the gaps that occur when people try to get back to work with a health problem and to test what kind of support is most helpful.

Research shows that there is a brief window of opportunity to help someone with a work-limiting injury or illness stay in the workforce. Once this window is closed, the likelihood of a person remaining employed is low. When illness or injury forces a worker out of the workforce, the loss negatively affects the health and well-being of those workers, as well as their families, employers, community and many levels of government. RETAIN is based on evidence that this loss is often preventable and – with timely, coordinated and effective supports – many workers could return to or keep their jobs.

Phase 1 RETAIN allowed the project team to conduct extensive stakeholder focus groups and expert interviews to identify physical and mental health and employer services currently available in Vermont, as well as gaps.

The second phase will test the impact of the pilot program created in phase 1. The funding will also be used to set up return-to-work services on the best practices needed for Vermonters with a focus on the equity, inclusion, accessibility and long-term economy. sustainability of programs. This includes education, training grants and support programs for employers, health care providers, individuals and community partners, including the creation of a network of community based vocational rehabilitation teams. specialized. By combining early coordination of medical and employment support for individuals with expanded access to return-to-work services statewide, Vermont aims to influence lasting positive changes throughout the system to support work. and health.

RETAIN is funded by the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in partnership with the department’s Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration. Vermont will join the other RETAIN states, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Ohio in a collaborative coalition to inform national policy.

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