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Erie County invests $5.9 million in opioid settlement funding to 25 programs


Mon, Jun 17th 2024 10:45 am

Grants to be delivered over 5 years; programs reflect many evidence-based and community-driven solutions around opioid use prevention, treatment, recovery & supportive services

Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health

Erie County is announcing $5.9 million in competitive awards from opioid settlement funding. These funds will support programs that align with opioid settlement terms for prevention, treatment, recovery and supportive services, along with a comprehensive media marketing campaign for awareness and other public health goals.

“Our litigation and work through the justice system led to some measure of justice from pharmaceutical companies for their contributions to this deadly epidemic,” County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “As a county, we will feel the scale and intensity of the opioid epidemic for years. This money gives our departments of Health, Mental Health, Probation and Social Services additional tools to be flexible and responsive as opioid and substance use trends change. It also lets us invest in community programs with trusted agencies who are doing such important work with individuals and within systems.”

The Erie County Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health evaluated dozens of proposals for programs that aligned with requirements for use of settlement funds, and demonstrated the capacity to offer regular progress reports and spend funds responsibly.

“This collection of grants includes many innovative, creative ideas that will reach the people who need it most,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “Six agencies have already entered into contracts and, by the end of the summer and with legislative approval, the others should start.”

“Our task force efforts and settlement funding have helped to expand medication for opioid use disorder treatment, clinical services and recovery supports to fill gaps and reduce waiting times,” Commissioner of Mental Health Mark O’Brien said.

“We are committed to ensuring these funds are distributed with integrity, fidelity, accountability and results” said Community Opioid Response Director Taylor Winter, who manages the grants, reporting and communications for settlement funding. “We are building a dashboard system that will provide real-time access to monies received, expended and committed.”

This dashboard, specific to Erie County but inspired by local and state settlement dashboards across the country, will be introduced in the fourth quarter of 2024.

"We are also establishing a community advisory council made up of a diverse and reflective group of people including and people with lived/living experience, so that input is considered as fund distribution continues,” Winter said.

Erie County has received about $26 million so far, with a portion funding staff within the departments of Health, Mental Health, Social Services and Probation. Erie County anticipates millions more in funding through 2040 as opioid litigation defendants release compensation payments and other cases are settled. Erie County will offer multiple opportunities to hear these plans and provide feedback, including at the overdose prevention task force meeting on Aug. 5. Additional specific dates to come.

The following agencies are scheduled to receive funding following necessary contract approvals this summer:

√ *Back to Basics Ministries Inc., case management for east side, $250,000

√ BestSelf Behavioral Health Inc., CASAC scholarships, $250,000

√ Cazenovia Recovery Systems Inc., “Step Toward Success,” $245,824

√ Center for Elder Law & Justice, Legal Support for older adults with OUD (opioid use disorder), $250,000

√ Erie County Medical Center, Hepatology Center, La Bodega, $250,000

√ Erie County Medical Center, Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, peer training on opioids for unions, $250,000

√ Evergreen Health Services, drop-in services for people who use drugs, $250,000

√ Every Person Influences Children Inc., “Triple P” parenting programming, $250,000

√ Hope of Buffalo Inc. Peaceprints of WNY, re-entry services, $250,000

√ Horizon Health Services Inc., motivational interviewing training, $250,000

√ Horizon Health Services Inc., MAT services, $250,000

√ Horizon Village Inc., peer recovery housing, $250,000

√ *International Association of Human Values, sky recovery program, $215,000

√ *Kids Escaping Drugs, “Face 2 Face,” $249,425

√ *Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo Inc., role of harm reduction in legal systems education and training, $250,000

√ The Research Foundation for SUNY on behalf of the University at Buffalo, Primary Care Research Institute, positive direction model evaluation, $250,000

√ The Research Foundation for SUNY on behalf of the University at Buffalo, Primary Care Research Institute, design of a SUD (substance use disorder) peer network, $250,000

√ *West Side Community Services, “Teen Intervene,” $250,000

*Contracts contingent on Erie County Legislature approval.

Other agencies that have received opioid settlement grants are:

√ GROUP Ministries Inc., support PWUD (people who use drugs) with recovery, housing, and social employment support, $100,000

√ Hope of Buffalo Inc., Peaceprints, $500,000

√ Positive Directions and Associates Inc., SBIRT (screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment) training $20,000

√ Positive Directions and Associates Inc., improving birth outcomes for pregnant people and their infants, $100,000

√ JA Hauser and Rebecca Rose Sobriety Services LLC, innovative recovery living options, $200,000

√ Jericho Road, culturally competent care and education, $30,000

Early this year, Erie County began working with Impact Marketing, an Albany-based advertising firm, to develop comprehensive awareness messaging. Over two years, the $1 million contract will amplify messages around prevention and harm reduction; listeners in Erie County may have already heard our radio station ads.

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