RETAINing Kentucky's Workforce through Universal Design -RKW-UD

Grants and Contracts Details


Statement of the Problem: Each year, millions of workers experience on and off the job injuries or illnesses that remove them from the workforce. These workers may move from short-term to long-term disability benefits, culminating at the federal disability Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) rolls, and never returning to the workforce. This negatively impacts the economic outlook for employers who are faced with employee turnover arising from vacant positions, lost productivity and resulting decreased output. The main driver of the cost of disability to employers and to society as a whole is the number of days, weeks, month, and years that workers lose to disability. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities is also a public health crisis that arises from household economic instability and results in disparities across life outcomes including health, community integration, and economic self-sufficiency. Employers have a financial interest in returning injured and ill workers to their jobs as soon as possible, and maintaining workers with disabilities, even with on-the-job accommodations, to further reduce turnover, which is widely acknowledged as the most costly personnel expense for today’s employers. Quality early intervention strategies can influence outcomes for a worker with a disability. The Phase I pilot will apply tried and true best practices in return to work and workers compensation to help people with mid-career disabilities continue working rather than receiving progressively permanent disability benefits. Strategies – Intensive Planning: Mapping out the intervention of the project with critical partners is vital, and will provide both the vision for this state effort and the framework for the pilot. Workforce Development will work with partners including: state rehabilitation agency (Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Office for the Blind), Workers Claims, Public Health, and KentuckyOne Health. Additional partners include the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (UCEDD) and the Council of State Governments. Stakeholders include primary care physicians, chambers of commerce, occupational health nurses, OTs/PTs, state VR counselors, private-sector insurance rehabilitation carriers, benefits planning specialists, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, substance abuse counselors, assistive technology specialists and rehabilitation engineers, and disability advocacy organizations. Model return to work programs and disability management strategies from large, self-insured employers will be examined and systematically modified to meet the needs of workers in small employer settings. Most proven disability management strategies have been adopted by large employers. Data management strategies will be developed and implemented in order to capture essential variables related to pilot participants.
Effective start/end date2/5/196/30/20


  • KY Department of Vocational Rehabilitation: $1,678,829.00


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