Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $762,064)
Cecil County, Maryland is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program (COSSAP) under Category 1 to enhance our community’s response to the opioid crisis by offering a public safety-led multidisciplinary team response to serve victims of overdose, their children and family members, and our professional partners.
Cecil County proposes to leverage our strong partnerships with a variety of organizations and agencies to expand the Prevention and Overdose Response and Trauma Support Services (PORTSS) team, continuously collect, review and share data, provide direct therapeutic services to impacted youth and their families, train and support public safety, school staff and other professionals, promote community awareness, conduct briefings for program partners, and share all available resources to meet the needs of this population.
Principal members of the response team include the PORTSS Coordinator (Department of Emergency Services), Case Manager (Department of Community Services), and Peer Recovery Specialist (Cecil County Health Department). The team will streamline communication between the Cecil County Heroin Coordinator and the 9-1-1 call center to activate a rapid, coordinated response. Appropriate services will be offered to the overdose victim AND all family members as we implement a two-generation strategy to reduce substance use disorder (SUD) and consequent childhood trauma. Services to families will include a warm handoff to SUD treatment, trauma therapy for children and their caregivers, revitalization of Cecil’s Handle with Care program, referrals for behavioral/mental health services for children, assistance with accessing community resources (food, housing, utility assistance, etc.), educational assistance, and regular follow-up.
Cecil County is in the third of three years implementing a federal grant from the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC), in which direct trauma therapy is provided free of charge to qualifying children and their caregivers, along with psychoeducation, provider and community training, data collection, and more. The PORTSS initiative was developed as a direct outcome from the experiences and information learned through the OVC grant; the COSSAP initiative will reinforce and expand upon that successful effort.
Although Cecil County is only about one-tenth the size of Maryland’s largest jurisdictions, our opioid overdose death rate remains second highest in the State. We are hopeful that in partnership with BJA, Cecil County can continue to expand services for children and families to break the cycle of generational addiction, trauma and child maltreatment.