Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

KY-OVR wins $2.5M RETAIN demonstration grant

Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation receives $2.5 million grant to help injured or ill employees remain or return to work

By Kim Saylor Brannock

Frankfort, KY - - The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) has been awarded a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to help injured or ill employees remain in their job or return to work. Kentucky is one of only eight states to receive a federal Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) demonstration grant to develop a pilot program.

The RETAINing Kentucky's Workforce through Universal Design (RKW-UD) pilot will focus on using early, coordinated health and employment services to prevent long-term unemployment due to injury or illness caused by events such as falls, lifts or strains. Research shows that there is a small window of opportunity to get or keep someone in the workforce. Once that opportunity passes, the likelihood of an individual remaining employed is low. Under this project, an action plan will be developed to address barriers for injured workers returning to work, and will include accommodations or alternate work in the employment setting

In addition, the pilot will target workers who have a substance use disorder that exists or develops as a result of taking medication after an injury or illness.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), these types of injuries and illnesses accounted for the largest diagnoses (32.3 percent) for Social Security Disability Insurance in Kentucky and the United States (36 percent).

"It is an honor to be one of the eight states at the forefront of exploring ways to help Kentuckians return to the workforce after a potentially debilitating event," said Josh Benton, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. "When employees are sidelined whether due to an injury or illness, it can have a long-lasting impact on them, their families and employer. With early intervention and a coordinated approach, we can help employees stay on the job or return sooner," he said.

The RKW-UD pilot will use a team-based approach with partners from government, organizations, health care providers and labor and industry to identify injured or ill workers who are at risk of dropping out of the workforce after an event, giving them support and resources to stay in the workforce. One of the key components of the pilot is working with occupational health staff that have expertise in helping people recover daily functions after injury or illness.

"Job injuries and illnesses affect our workforce every day in Kentucky. This project will allow us to return workers to their jobs as quickly as possible. Keeping workers in their jobs benefits the worker, the employer and the Commonwealth as a whole," said Cora McNabb, executive director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

RETAIN is led by DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in partnership with the department's Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration. Nearly $19 million has been awarded to eight states during the first phase of RETAIN to develop and test early intervention approaches that can be replicated in other states.

In the second phase, four of the pilots will be chosen and given an additional $19 million to implement their models. In Kentucky, OVR is the led agency for the project. The project will be launched in the Louisville metropolitan area and surrounding counties of Bullitt, Henry, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble.

This story was posted on 2018-10-09 14:44:39
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.