Champaign Co. receives funds to help workers affected by opioid crisis

A Champaign County agency has received funding that will go towards helping those impacted by the opioid crisis find jobs.

The Champaign County Department of Jobs and Family Services was given $19,000 to be used for training programs and opportunities for in-demand jobs for those eligible within the county, according the agency’s director Stacy Cox.

That money comes from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Opioid-Crisis Dislocated Worker Grant and aims to provide assistance to those who either have a family member or are themselves have a history of opioid use.

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It also is geared towards those not struggling with opioid addiction but are interested in entering a field that has been strained by the ongoing crisis, said Cox.

Those job fields include substance abuse and mental health counseling, social work, pain management, emergency medical technicians and health care professions such as nursing, according to the Ohio DJFS.

Ohio had the second highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse,

In order to qualify, applicants must be either a dislocated worker, temporarily or permanently laid off as a result of the opioid crisis, employed less than 15 out of the last 26 weeks, or self-employed, unemployed or significantly underemployed as a result of the opioid crisis, according to the Champaign County DJFS.

Cox said her agency plans to help pay for and coordinate training based on the individual goals of those eligible. She said it is up to those eligible to find the programs they want to go into.

She said that some employers in the county are having trouble finding available and qualified employees. Cox said that mostly pertains to a low unemployment rate reported in the county, which was 3.8% in September.

However, some jobs fields in the county have been hit hard by the opioid crisis. Cox said that includes social services such as children protection services.

“Child protection is a difficult job,” Cox said. “It is hard to find qualified staff and to retain them. The staff burns out much quicker.”

Her agency oversees child protective services in the county and she said the number of cases handled in a year have increased over the past few years mainly due to the opioid crisis.

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The number of Champaign county children in foster care in 2016 was 24. Last year, that number was 38, according to information provided by the Champaign County DJFS.

“It may not seem large. But on our scale it is,” Cox said.

With the increase in home visits and more cases for children protective services across the state due to the opioid crisis, it has increased the number of kids entering the foster care system, Cox said.

In Champaign County, it meant a shortage in foster care homes leading to local children being placed all over the state, she added. That put further stain on local case workers.

Right now, Cox said they are seeing the back end of the opioid crisis. However, as of the beginning of the month, 15 out of the 29 kids in the agencies’ care were classified as being in permanent custody.

However, she added that substance abuse has not decline and they are seeing a shift to other substances such as methamphetamine.

She said the state has filtered money for training and some interventions for those going into the children services field.

For those who may be eligible for assistance from the Dislocated Worker Grant are asked to contact the Clark County DJFS at 937-484-1500, ext. 2105 or at AndreaL.Mitchell@jfs.ohio.gov.


Facts & Figures

$19,000: Funding that the Champaign County Department of Job & Family Services will be receiving from the state.

3.8%: The unemployment rate in Champaign County in September

38: The number of Champaign County children in foster care.

The Springfield News-Sun has closely covered the impact of the opioid crisis on Clark and Champaign counties, and what local agencies and community programs are doing to help those affected.

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