Brockton, MA — United Way of Greater Plymouth County’s The Family Center at Community Connections of Brockton is partnering with Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s Office on a federal grant awarded to enhance efforts to reach drug endangered children in Plymouth County.
The Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office will receive the $541,300 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). The grant was created to address an urgent gap in crime victim services related to the opioid epidemic and to expand upon existing or establish new programs to provide services to youth who are victimized as a result of the opioid crisis.
“We are thrilled to work with DA Cruz and his office on this very important grant,” said Dennis Carman, United Way of Greater Plymouth County’s President & CEO. “Being a part of this partnership in our community is very much in line with our Family Center’s mission of strengthening families, building communities, and preventing child abuse and neglect and we are eager to roll up our sleeves and start working.”
DA Cruz will use these critical funds to train law enforcement, schools, and community partners on identifying drug endangered children and developing the proper trauma sensitive response. The grant will allow the DA to continue its partnership with the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a collaboration of Harvard Law School and Massachusetts Advocates for Children. The Family Center will be using funds to hire a Clinical Director to work directly with drug endangered children. The Clinical Director will also be working alongside Plymouth County Outreach, a collaboration of 28 police departments in Plymouth County dedicated to providing immediate outreach to overdose victims.
“Unfortunately, far too many children are being exposed to the effects of opioid use in the home, especially overdoses,” DA Cruz said. “Securing this grant money will help assist us in enhancing the capacity of Plymouth County to respond to the trauma that these children are witnessing. Through training, direct services, and building community partnerships, we can help identify who these kids are and help them build up the resilience to overcome this adversity. I am hopeful that this approach at reaching children at a younger age, when they are most vulnerable will benefit them in the long run. This was an extremely competitive process and we are honored to have received this grant.”
Opioid addiction in the home is the fastest growing Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) in Massachusetts, especially in Plymouth County. In 2017, there were 2,016 people who died of an overdose in Massachusetts. There were 147 fatalities in Plymouth County, and of those, 70 percent of individuals were aged 20–39, often the ages associated with having children. Furthermore, the majority of overdoses are occurring in a home.
In 2015, along with Sheriff Joseph McDonald, DA Cruz created the Plymouth County Drug Abuse Task Force in an effort to engage all community sectors to address the opiate overdose issue on several fronts – reducing the supply of drugs through prosecutions, enhancing the county’s capacity for data collection of overdose information, reducing the demand through education and prevention programs, and increasing access to treatment and recovery services.
About United Way of Greater Plymouth County
Established in 1922, United Way of Greater Plymouth County’s mission is “We unite people, ideas and resources to improve the lives of people in Greater Plymouth County.” United Way envisions a safe, healthy and well-educated community in which people’s needs are met effectively, respectfully and compassionately by focusing its resources on addressing the vital and interconnected needs of education, health and income. United Way serves the communities of southeastern Massachusetts, including the city of Brockton and the towns of Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, West Bridgewater, and Whitman. www.uwgpc.org www.cbrockton.org
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