The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services was awarded a $6.5 million federal grant to help the state partner with local justice systems to prevent opioid overdoses and connect people to treatment. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and will be paid out to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services over the next three years.
The grant comes as the number of opioid-related overdoses in the state declined for the first time in five years. It will allow the state to expand programs that have been proven to work, and focus on prevention, reducing harm, and connecting people with care, the announcement says.
The N.C. DHHS will award the funds to at least nine sites to implement evidence-based programs that provide comprehensive medication assisted treatment, pre-arrest and pre-conviction diversion programs, overdose prevention education and job application assistance.
“Data shows the best way to combat the opioid epidemic is expand access to health care, and these funds will help do that,” Governor Roy Cooper said in the announcement.
Currently, only Durham and Buncombe jails provide comprehensive medication assisted treatment, which the NCDHHS supports with its State Opioid Response grant funding. North Carolina has 11 cities or counties with pre-arrest diversion programs.
The state Department of Health and Human Services is developing a request for applications to competitively award funds for strategies approved under the grant.