Health department to implement drug free communities grant

Chris Dunham

October 9, 2012

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

Last month it was announced the Scioto County Drug Action Team was awarded a Drug Free Communities Support Program Grant from the federal government, valued at $125,000 a year for the next decade.

The Portsmouth City Health Department is the fiscal agent in charge of the program. Since the announcement of the grant, the department has been working to set up the program.

The grant awarded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will, according to released material, allow the Scioto Drug Action Team to expand efforts to reduce local substance abuse through education and prevention.

According to Lisa Roberts, Scioto County Drug Action Team spokeswoman said the health department is in the process of reorganizing some staff and hiring some staff to help with the program.

“The first year of the job requires a lot of travel,” Roberts said. “I have registered myself and one other person, who ever we hire for the coalition academy, which is a three-week training program that will take place next year in Iowa. Chris (Smith, Portsmouth City Health Commissioner) and I are going to Washington D.C. Dec. 3-5 for our official new grantee training.”

She said the first couple of months is going to be about establishing relationships and getting ready to implement the action plan.

Roberts said Scioto County was the only new DFC awarded in Ohio.

“Scioto County has been hard hit in recent years by prescription and other drug abuse. But since 2010, the hard work of the Drug Action Team has begun to turn things around. This coalition of family member, community leaders and law enforcement played a major role in the reduction of accidental overdoses in the county by 17 percent and drug-related deaths by 42 percent from 2010-2011. This Drug Free Communities matching grant will enable them to expand and strengthen their efforts and much needed work,” Ohio Senator Rob Portman said in a released statement.

According to information from the White House, “The DFC program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate youth and adult participation at the community level in local youth drug prevention efforts, including prescription drug diversion and prevention initiatives, as well as underage drinking prevention programs.

Data show that communities receiving DFC funding have seen significant reductions in past 30-day use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana among middle and high school students.

The 60 new grantees were selected from 364 applicants through a competitive, peer-reviewed process. To qualify for these matching grants, all awardees must have at least a six-month history of working together on youth substance use reduction initiatives, have representation from 12 required sectors of the community, develop a long-term plan to reduce youth substance use, and participate in the National Evaluation of the DFC program.”

According to Roberts, this development has assured a brighter future for the next generation of Scioto County residents.

“With the awarding of this grant, Scioto County will receive $125,000 a year for the next decade to develop and institutionalize programs that prevent youth substance use,” Roberts said. “This means that for the next decade there will be dedicated people working on programs to reduce youth substance use, and that the next generation will be better prepared to resist substance use through coordinated and institutionalized prevention programming.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or wallen@heartlandpublications.com.