National Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) are discretionary grants awarded by the Secretary of Labor, under Section 170 of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). DWGs provide resources to states and other eligible applicants to respond to large, unexpected layoff events causing significant job losses. This funding is intended to temporarily expand capacity to serve dislocated workers, including military service members, and meet the increased demand for WIOA employment and training services, with a purpose to reemploy laid off workers and enhance their employability and earnings. Disaster DWGs provide funding to create temporary employment opportunities to assist with clean-up and recovery efforts, when an area impacted by disaster is declared eligible for public assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or otherwise recognized by a federal agency with authority or jurisdiction over federal response to the emergency or disaster.
WIOA established the DWG program, including grants for employment and training assistance and grants for disaster relief employment assistance, to supersede regular and disaster National Emergency Grants under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
DWGs will temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker training and employment programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events which cause significant job losses. DWGs also provide resources to states and local workforce investment boards to quickly reemploy laid-off workers by offering training to increase occupational skills.
WIOA provided some significant changes to the program. The new provisions include:
- Authorized DWGs to provide assistance to areas with a higher than average demand for employment and training services from dislocated members of the Armed Forces and military spouses.
- Allows federal agency emergency or disaster declaration, in addition to those made by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to trigger an opportunity for eligible entities to apply for assistance. The newly eligible situations must fit the definition of emergency or disaster situations for national significance that could result in a potentially large loss of employment, as declared or otherwise recognized by the chief official of a federal agency with authority for the federal response to the emergency.
- Allows circumstances where substantial number of individuals from a disaster area relocate to another area to trigger an opportunity for eligible entities in the relocation area to apply for assistance.
- Affirms eligibility for the grant program for self-employed individuals who become unemployed or significantly underemployed as a result of the emergency or disaster.
- Increases the temporary employment duration from six months to 12 months. The Secretary of Labor may extend the duration of disaster relief employment for up to an additional 12 months.