At 39% participation, Eastern Kentucky has the lowest workforce participation rate among ages 18-24 in the nation. This area also finds itself at the epicenter of our nation’s substance abuse crisis, creating a unique challenge for both the health and economic capacity of communities. That’s why a number of organizations, like Kentucky River Community Care, Inc. (KRCC), work every day to overcome these obstacles. Now, with a $500,000 award from ARC’s INvestments Supporting Partnerships in Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative, KRCC can increase their capacity in fighting substance abuse and low workforce participation rates.
To date, KRCC has been operating a 100-bed peer recovery center at the Hickory Hill Recovery Center (HHRC). This partnership, part of the Recovery Kentucky addiction treatment partnership with the Kentucky Department of Corrections, also provides behavioral health treatment services and medical care for their participants. KRCC will use their INSPIRE grant to make this partnership even more impactful by launching the Bridges to Work program.
Bridges to Work is a 36-month pilot community partnership that will establish an ecosystem of care that blends therapeutic counseling, workforce development guidance, training, work-based learning and supportive services to create a unified pathway to employment success. The program will support reentering or court-involved males ages 18-34 in Knott and Perry Counties, two distressed counties in Appalachian Kentucky. Funding will create a holistic recovery program designed by participants, local businesses and second chance employers who support the development of transformative work environments welcoming people in recovery back to the workforce.
The Bridges to Work program will focus on relapse prevention by creating a support system available to participants that have transitioned to their own living arrangements. The program also ensure that participants have obtained housing and employment in an environment that is conducive to a recovery lifestyle by removing barriers to housing, employment, and education. Those individuals will also have the opportunity to train within two new positions: success coach and peer support. These positions will work together to ensure that all participants are able to transition to a recovery friendly environment and provide recovery support, vocational assistance, and transportation, among other services.
“In working with the Appalachian Regional Commission, local employers, and individuals in long-term recovery Bridges to Work will strive to strengthen the recovery eco-system of Eastern Kentucky,” said Michael Nix, Director of the Hickory Hill Recovery Center. “Through hard work, dedication, and community cohesiveness we will make Eastern Kentucky a better place to live, prosper, and recover.”