Last updated: July 24. 2013 1:45PM - 306 Views
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Late Friday evening the Scioto County Drug Action Team learned that it has been awarded a Drug Free Communities Support Program Grant from the federal government, valued at $125,000 a year for the next decade.

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.

“We were encouraged to apply for this federal grant by U.S. Senator Rob Portman, who was very instrumental in obtaining the HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) designation for Scioto County from ONDCP last year. Senator Portman introduced the legislation that first created the DFC program in 1997. So naturally I am thrilled by this news,” said Lisa Roberts, Scioto County Drug Action Team Spokeswoman.

Roberts said the Drug Free Communities Grant application process was difficult and very competitive.

“This was a particularly tough year because ONDCP was only funding about 10 percent of the DFC applications they received for FY2012 (2012 fiscal year) throughout the U.S.,” Roberts said. “All of our Scioto County schools had to sign-on to prove that we had full community support-and they did. We had to prove that we had a lot of community involvement and commitment from different agencies and community sectors.”

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,” 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. The Portsmouth City Health Department will be the Fiscal Agent and in charge of the program.”

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

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