HAZARD, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), a Blueprint Partner of SOAR, has released its Year One Report of the Strategic Initiative for Transformational Employment, or SITE, program.
SITE is designed to provide a working employment services model that effectively bridges the gap between addiction recovery and productive participation in the workforce through collaborative partnerships with a variety of stakeholders including workforce development organizations, employers, long-term treatment centers, local courts, and advocacy organizations that provide direct services to the state’s reentry population.
EKCEP first sought to combine workforce and recovery as an effective tool in early 2019 with the inception of the Eastern Kentucky Recovery and Training (eKART) program, combining EKCEP’s array of workforce services with Job Entry and Retention Support Specialists, who work directly with individuals during their efforts to reenter the workforce, and Success Coaches, who assist individuals as they maintain employment while continuing their recovery. Support can range from connection with local transformational employers willing to hire individuals with histories of substance use to supportive services that assist with issues such as transportation or childcare.
EKCEP later received contracts to administer the statewide SITE program with funding including Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Grant 1H79TI081704 and support from the Office of Drug Control Policy. eKART has since become a subset of SITE, which provides a similar model in Kentucky’s other workforce areas across the state, although without the supportive services and training components outside of EKCEP’s service area.
The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program is staff to the Eastern Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board and administers workforce development programs in a 23-county region of Appalachia Kentucky. One of EKCEP’s primary goals with the statewide SITE program is to prove an effective recovery employment model for a sector of Kentucky’s reentry population with histories of substance use. EKCEP believes first year successes detailed here help prove the model and provide a picture of successful program development and implementation.
The eKART initiative remains active within EKCEP’s 23-county service area and is funded in part by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Partnership Opportunities and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. The Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE), funded entirely by federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides additional support, while EKCEP’s formula funding from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) allows eKART to provide supportive services to individual clients.