Warren County seeking $800K grant that could alter its opioid response

Warren County hopes to join Montgomery, Preble and Darke counties as beneficiaries of new federal grants designed to help fight the opioid epidemic.

Warren County is applying for a $800,000 federal grant to study first responder relationships and processes when children are involved in drug-overdose calls.

The commissioners agreed to make the application after a debate about whether the county should take federal dollars and whether it wanted to alter the system dealing with these cases.

Commissioner Dave Young pointed out the federal government’s “trillions in debt” and recalled when the county government turned down federal funding previously.

“I’ll let Warren County go broke before taking any of Obama’s filthy money,” Commissioner Mike Kilburn said in 2009 as the county rejected federal stimulus funds available for road projects.

Last Tuesday, Commissioner Shannon Jones said the idea would be to develop a new protocol for more quickly providing services to children “falling through the cracks” during emergency responses to drug overdoses.

Jones, a former state lawmaker, said lessons learned could be be used around the country. Efficiencies reducing costs and improving service should be the result, she said.

“This is something you will look back on and be very proud of,” she said to Young.

MORE: Dayton forum seeks solutions to Ohio opioid crisis

The grant would come through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance in partnership with the Office for Victims of Crime.

The grants are designed to cause the planning and implementation of comprehensive programs in response to the “growing opioid epidemic,” according to application materials.

After the debate, Jones and Young agreed to go forward with the application in order to make the June 7 deadline.

RELATED: Warren County faces $1 million children’s service budget deficit

Last year, the the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board for Montgomery County (Dayton) was awarded $500,000 in first responders grant funding through the federal program established by the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA).

So far, the grant that is expected to provide a total of $2 million over four years has paid for supplies of the drugs used to treat victims of opioid overdoses in Montgomery, Preble and Darke counties and helped establish emergency response teams in Preble and Darke counties, according to Jodi Long, director of treatment and supportive services for ADAMHS.

“Project Save of Miami Valley has provided the financial resources for the public health departments in Preble and Darke counties to establish Naloxone repositories. Additionally the grant has sustained the existing Naloxone repositories for law enforcement and EMS in Montgomery County,” Long said. “Outreach services have also been established in Preble and Darke counties using the grant.”

Federal grants to combat opioid epidemic

"Signed into law on July 22, 2016, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) is the first major federal substance abuse treatment and recovery legislation in 40 years and the most comprehensive legislative effort to address the opioid epidemic," according to the grant application materials.

Last year, a little less tan $3.5 million was awarded to Ohio agencies, according to a news release issued by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman in September.

Other grants awarded in Ohio last year:

• $500,000 in first responders grant funding for the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County.

• $493,080 in first responders grant funding for the Metrohealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

• $2 million for the Ohio State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in Columbus.

“The legislation ensures that federal resources are focused on evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery programs that have proven effective in local communities so that it can make a difference in people’s lives,” according to the news release.

“CARA establishes a comprehensive, coordinated, and balanced strategy through enhanced grant programs that encompass prevention and education efforts, effective responses to those affected by substance abuse and services for treatment and recovery from addiction.”

Warren County grant would study responses in cases involving children

Warren County would work with the Urban Institute and hire someone to oversee the two-year program if awarded the grant, Jones said during Tuesday's meeting on the grant application.

Susan Walther, director of the county’s children services, said she welcomed the grant.

“There’s this vicious cycle we get into,” Walther said during the discussion of whether to apply for the grant in the absence of Commissioner Tom Grossmann. “The kids just keep coming.”

Young expressed hesitancy about accepting federal dollars and the potential cost implications.

“We’re already spending millions,” he said.

RELATED: Warren County commissioners again discuss children’s services levy

The county’s children services budget has grown in recent years to $8.3 million, in part due to the effects of the opioid epidemic on Warren County families, according to officials.

At one point, Jones suggested the county should bypass the application if its leaders were unwilling to consider changing the way it was providing children services.

“Inherent in that needs to be a willingness to do something differently,” she said.

Young relented, noting the expectation of growing efficiencies through the research, to be conducted in 2019 and 2020.

Staff writers Richard Wilson and Chris Stewart contributed to this report.

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