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WV wins $6.5M to aid opioid fight


Oct. 18, 2019

W.Va. wins $6.5M to aid opioid fight


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia can intervene on behalf of more at-risk children, steer more troubled adults toward harm-reduction services, and extend telehealth further into rural areas after securing $6.5 million from a federal grant program.


The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program, or COAP, supports innovative ways to encourage substance abuse treatment and recovery. Justice and Community Services, part of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, successfully applied for funding reserved for statewide projects.


Awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice, the grant endorses a strategy focused on three goals: early intervention and prevention; diversion; and evidence-based treatment.


The funding will expand and improve Handle With Care to achieve the first goal. Handle With Care seeks to prevent children from being exposed to trauma and violence, and lessen the negative effects when they are. Overseen by the Center for Children’s Justice at the W.Va. State Police, it recognizes schools and child care agencies as key to effective intervention.


“Handle with Care is a community partnership between law enforcement, schools and mental health providers to help children succeed every day to the very best of their ability despite any childhood adversities they have had or are currently experiencing,” said Center Director Andrea Darr.


The grant will similarly aid the West Virginia Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

program. Part of a growing national initiative, LEAD pursues community-based supportive services as an alternative to the criminal justice system in appropriate cases involving such low-level offenses as drug possession. The Office of Drug Control Policy at the W.Va. Department of Health and Human Resources supports the LEAD program.


“The Office of Drug Control Policy is proud to partner with agencies like DMAPS to combat West Virginia’s substance use epidemic,” said Director Bob Hansen. “The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program is critical to supporting and strengthening ongoing initiatives.”


The LEAD portion of the grant funding will specifically focus on Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer, Webster, and Wirt counties, as they lack diversion programs. Those counties would also see the expanded and enhanced telehealth services aided by the grant. This will allow residents there to receive psychiatric evaluations, treatment planning, individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and peer recovery support services.


The statewide project will competitively award sub-grants to pursue its goals over a three-year period. Justice and Community Services will carry out and monitor the project alongside the Office of Drug Control Policy, DHHR’s Bureau of Behavioral Health, and the Office of Research and Strategic Planning. The latter and JCS are both part of DMAPS’ Division of Administrative Services.


DMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy praised Gov. Jim Justice for his leadership in the fight against the opioid epidemic, crediting Justice for spearheading efforts in West Virginia to obtain the funds needed to support programs helping those battling addiction and their loved ones.


“Gov. Justice has been absolutely clear that finding ways to end the opioid crisis and to support those struggling with addiction are among his very top priorities,” Sandy said. “The governor’s commitment to this issue has provided us the freedom to work to acquire grants like this and others as we seek to do our part to turn the tide against addiction.”


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LAWRENCE MESSINA (304) 558-2930 Lawrence.C.Messina@wv.gov