For Immediate Release: 1/15/2019 3:42 pm
The City of Worcester Division of Public Health (WDPH) has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice - Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to provide services for child victims of the opioid crisis. The grant is for three years for a total of $744,668.
Worcester has experienced an increase in opioid overdoses and overdose fatalities in recent years. In the wake of this public health emergency is a population of young victims who require wraparound services and improved access to coordinated trauma-informed health care options.
From January 2014 to May 2018, the Worcester Police Department recorded 3,600 incidents involving a Class A substance. An alarming 43 percent (1,550) of these incidents mentioned the state’s Department of Children & Families in the police report, suggesting the potential size of the target population.
As the project lead, WDPH will conduct the Trauma Informed Response to Young Victims of Crime program to improve the services offered to children, youth and families impacted by the opioid crisis.
“Worcester, like many urban areas across the nation, has been hit especially hard by the opioid crisis. Not only have we lost lives, but our families and most importantly our children have suffered long-term health effects,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “This grant will serve as a complement to other ongoing City programs such as the Worcester Youth Violence Prevention Initiative by helping those who have experienced trauma associated with the opioid crisis.”
This program, which will target children under 10 years of age from the City of Worcester, is a multidisciplinary partnership focusing on victim services, first responders, child welfare providers, public schools as well as health and social service providers. The first six months of the grant involve a planning period with referrals for services projected to start in May 2019.
WDPH will partner with two experienced nonprofit organizations, the UMass Memorial Healthcare community benefits program Worcester Addresses Childhood Trauma and YOU, Inc., to provide wraparound services to child victims as well as engage the services of the UMass Medical School Child Trauma Training Center for targeted trainings for first responders as well as professionals within the childcare and welfare, public school, public health and clinical sectors.
“We have been collaboratively working to improve the outcomes for children and families who have suffered from the effects of the opioid epidemic,” said Commissioner of Health & Human Services Dr. Matilde Castiel. “Bringing these services to our community will help our youth deal with trauma and ultimately they will become resilient in order to lead healthy, productive lives.”
“The opioid crisis has devastated far too many families in our community,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “This grant will help us to heal some of the trauma and pain the crisis has caused among children throughout Worcester. By offering wraparound services, we’re giving these kids a chance to grow, to recover, and ultimately, to thrive. I commend City Manager Augustus and Commissioner of Health & Human Services Dr. Castiel for all they have done to secure this critical funding.”