Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury or Illness Network (RETAIN)

Experiencing an occupational or non-occupational injury or illness may significantly impact one’s ability to maintain or obtain employment, along with their employer’s business investment and productivity and overall economic activity at all levels of government. The Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury or Illness Network (RETAIN) project focuses on building state level capacity across eight states in stay-at-home (SAW)/return-to-work (RTW) strategies to positively address these impacts.

RETAIN is a joint initiative of the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration. The project’s overall goals are to increase employment retention and labor force participation of individuals who acquire, and/or are at risk of, developing disabilities that inhibit their ability to work and to reduce long-term work absences among project participants.

As the Programmatic Technical Assistance Provider (RETAIN TA), AIR provides ongoing TA support to state awardees (California, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington and Vermont) through subject matter expertise, interactive engagement, shared learning, and capacity and knowledge building tools and resources to support individual and collective state needs on the readiness and implementation of their SAW/RTW models.

For additional information about RETAIN TA, contact

Related Resources

Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network: Operational Planning and Implementation Guidance Checklist 2.0 (2021, PDF)

This resource is designed to guide and support RETAIN states in operational and initial implementation planning of their stay at work and return to work model. The checklist is divided into 18 categories demonstrated to be key to ensuring readiness for implementation. This includes 5 new categories and updates to existing categories from the 2020 version. Each category includes a brief description and guiding questions for related tasks, space to check whether the task has been completed or is in progress, and a section to provide general next steps to address gaps or task areas still in progress. The checklist can support states in broadly determining where they are and where they want to be in their operational planning to support their RETAIN implementation. It is designed to be used at any point of the operational planning process and may be applied across RETAIN teams to help your multisector partnership understand key tasks that occur throughout the state team to support readiness for implementation.

Recruiting and Retaining RETAIN Participants: Potential Challenges and Suggested Strategies Brief (2020, PDF)

A critical aspect of RETAIN projects is the recruitment, enrollment, and retention of program participants. Effective recruitment and enrollment require planning, time, patience, and flexibility. However, this process is often more difficult than anticipated and generally takes longer than planned. This issue brief discusses common challenges that RETAIN grantees should be aware of and presents strategies for how to address these issues.

Barrier in Return to Work: A Research-to-Practice Brief from RETAIN Technical Assistance Provider (July 2020, PDF)

This brief presents key research highlights of four return to work (RTW) barriers that injured or ill individuals commonly experience: injury characteristics, individual perceptions of injury and other psychological characteristics, health care and rehabilitation issues, and workplace issues. This brief also provides an overview of strategies for overcoming these barriers.