WorkForce West Virginia is launching a three-year, $10 million program to provide recovery services and job training to people affected by the state's opioid drug abuse epidemic.

"At the end of the day, the goal of the project is to get people job-ready and to place them in meaningful jobs," acting Commissioner Scott Adkins said Tuesday during a pre-bid conference with potential bidders for the contract.

Funded through a federal Department of Labor disaster-relief dislocated-worker grant, the program is designed to assist 300 participants over three years.

Participants who self-attest to being affected by the opioid epidemic will be eligible for a variety of services, including working with peer recovery coaches and with career counselors who will match them with job training for in-demand occupations. The program also will offer supported employment with public or private nonprofit agencies, along with other support services.

"The whole purpose of this grant being out here is the opioid crisis," Adkins said. "The whole goal is to get these individuals back to work - back to becoming productive individuals."

The program also will offer job training for long-term unemployed people in health care professions in mental health, addiction treatment and prevention or pain management.

Also under the contract, the winning program manager will provide 234 temporary jobs for peer recovery workers and career advocates who will work out of WorkForce job centers in Charleston, Huntington, Beckley, Bluefield, Parkersburg, Wheeling, Morgantown and Martinsburg.

"You're going to set your own policy," Adkins told potential bidders Tuesday. "We're not going to dictate it to you."

Participants at Tuesday's conference will be able to submit written questions this week.

Deadline to submit proposals is July 31, with grant funding available through June 30, 2021.

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