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CONNECT 2.0 - Expansion of Franklin County/North Quabbin's post-opioid overdose community outreach and follow-up efforts in the only federally designated rural county in Massachusetts.

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,000,000)

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with the Opioid Task
Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region and other partners, is seeking
$1,000,000 over three years to expand services provided by CONNECT– the Community
Opportunity, Network, Navigation, Exploration, and Connection Team. Serving 30 rural
communities across nearly 1,000 square miles, CONNECT became the first team serving 86,773 residents to respond to fatal and non-fatal overdoses in July 2021, in the only federally designated
rural county in Massachusetts. CONNECT was created to address consistently high
levels of fatal overdoses in a region marked by persistent poverty, further exacerbated by the
Covid-19 pandemic, which drove up opioid-related fatalities by 45.5% between 2020 to 2021.
Despite the presence of CONNECT, gaps remain. Lack of law enforcement and first responder
capacity, budget cuts, and staff turnover have emerged as issues. The distribution of naloxone to
our law enforcement and first responders remains a priority as many municipalities are unable to
afford it due to high costs. Advancing racial equity in our work has also emerged as a priority, as
data reveal people of color are disproportionately impacted by opioid overdoses in
Massachusetts. Rural isolation and lack of access to services remain a concern, where limited
transportation routes and Internet connectivity prevented individuals from accessing SUD
treatment services and peer recovery coaching supports in community settings preventing their
entry into the mental health and criminal justice systems.
To address these challenges, CONNECT would: 1) implement a set of new strategies at Intercept
Zero that would include the creation of a CONNECT mobile outreach program to visit residents
in their own communities, including targeting priority populations (e.g. trade workers), create
self and at-risk referral pathways to leverage CONNECT services to prevent opioid overdoses
from occurring, provide grief support visits, and create an opioid fatality review team; 2) embed
peer recovery coaches in community, court, and emergency room settings; 3) continue to provide
naloxone to law enforcement and first responders; 4) support CONNECT’s Cultural Humility
Initiative to ensure the diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice principles are part of our
community outreach; and 5) expand real-time data collection with our Critical Management
System for CONNECT’s new services. Led by research scientists Pamela Kelley and Dr. Sean
Varano, Kelley Research Associates will act as CONNECT’s Research Partner to assess its

Date Created: September 25, 2023