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Building You: Program helps ill, injured residents in Butler County
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Author: Lily Wu, KWCH Anchor/Reporter

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The RETAINWORKS pilot program helps people who live or work in Butler County and have experienced an injury or illness that may hinder their employment.


Kansas is one of eight states funded to implement and evaluate early intervention strategies designed to improve stay-at-work and return-to-work outcomes.


“I was really excited that we were one of the eight states selected," said Mickayla Fink, the employment coordinator for RETAINWORKS in Kansas.


RETAINWORKS, stands for the Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury or Illness Network.


The goal is to assist individuals, who become ill or injured, to remain in the labor force.


“The ultimate goal is to try to keep those people employed or reduce the gap in employment as much as possible. The federal goal of the program is also to reduce the number of social security claims. And, hopefully help them get back to work, so they wouldn’t need that benefit," said Fink.


Currently, 73 people have been referred to the pilot program, 49 have enrolled, and 25 have returned to work.


Phase 1 of the pilot program is limited to those who live or work in Butler County.


The pilot program is a partnership between Butler Workforce Center and Ascension Via Christi.


“I thank God everyday for people and employers like Glenda, and people like my husband who are there, and RETAINWORKS. They’re there regardless and they don’t hold that (illness) against you," said Jennifer Sallee, participant.


To participate, you must be 18 to 65 and have an illness or injury that impacts your ability to work or has caused you to lose your job.


RETAINWORKS continues to take new enrollments thru the end of December.


If you have questions about the program, contact the Butler County Workforce Center, 524 North Main in El Dorado, at (316) 771-6800.


For more information about the federal program, which chose Kansas as one of its only rural projects in the nation, click here.


"To help people like me be able to work and to have that self worth, and not feel like they’re a burden," that's what RETAINWORKS means for this participant.

Hear more from her and @workforcecenter on #kwch12 at 4pm. #WorkingWednesday #WorkWithWu #4you #EyewitnessNews pic.twitter.com/HFh7WJMeet