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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday morning in a press release to Florida National News that the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) an opioid-crisis Dislocated Worker Grant (DWG) to combat the opioid epidemic in Florida. The grant is worth up to $2,500,000, with $833,333 released initially. This funding will address the impacts the opioid crisis has had on Florida’s workforce and will provide employment services to eligible individuals who have been affected.

“The opioid crisis is a serious public health concern that requires effective and immediate action to combat this epidemic,”said Governor DeSantis. “I am grateful to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and the Trump administration for taking the necessary steps to help our workforce deal with the devastating economic impact of substance abuse.”

“Opioid abuse devastates families and communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Helping individuals find family-sustaining job opportunities is a critical part of recovery. This Dislocated Worker Grant will help individuals impacted by the opioid crisis remain in and return to the workforce.”

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida is tackling the opioid crisis from every angle, including those who struggle to gain employment,” said DEO Executive Director Ken Lawson. “The Dislocated Worker Grant will allow our agency and our partners across the state to be a part of the fight.  We will train those impacted by the opioid crisis in fields that allow them to not only get back to work, but to help others who are impacted as well.”

The project will provide eligible grant participants with disaster-relief employment at community centers for mental health and substance abuse, including positions such as peer recovery specialists, addiction counselors and behavioral health technicians. The project will also provide employment services to participants seeking careers in healthcare professions related to addiction, treatment, prevention and pain management. The grant activities will take place in Brevard, Manatee and Sarasota counties. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in October 2017, enabling Florida to request this funding for a DWG project. 

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, Dislocated Worker Grants temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses.

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