Almost $1.2 million in grants help legal services fight opioid cases

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A total of almost $1.2 million in grant funding has been awarded from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid and Stimulant Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) to Kentucky entities to implement a collaborative project creating pathways to recovery and healing for those that have been negatively impacted by opioids, stimulants and substance abuse.

The participating programs include the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalReD), Kentucky Legal Aid, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass and Legal Aid Society.

“My administration is committed to combating the state’s drug epidemic and, as the 2020 Overdose Fatality Report indicates, overdose deaths are sadly on the rise,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Every dollar we are able to award through grant funding that increases access to treatment services and recovery programs is worth it to save one more Kentuckian from substance abuse and keep those in recovery on a successful healing journey.”

COSSAP aims to reduce the impact of opioids, stimulants, and other substances on individuals and communities, including a reduction in the number of overdose fatalities, as well as mitigate the impacts on crime victims by supporting comprehensive, collaborative initiatives.

This opportunity provides funding for the commonwealth to develop, implement or expand comprehensive programs in response to illicit opioids, stimulants or other substances of abuse.

Applications for COSSAP are submitted to and grant funding is administered by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s Grants Management Division.

Subawards for COSSAP funding are predominately granted to law enforcement agencies, civil legal service providers and non-profit agencies that support the goals and objectives identified in the federal program guidelines.

“If we are going to solve the opioid crisis our communities, law enforcement, government, non-profit agencies and legal service providers must all work together. An important step in achieving that goal is to address the root causes of substance abuse and addiction,” said Secretary Kerry Harvey. “This critical COSSAP funding will allow Kentucky’s civil legal service programs to embed Community Resource Coordinators within the intake department to provide appropriate, individualized supportive services intended to facilitate or enhance civil legal assistance to individuals and families affected by substance abuse.”

Kentucky’s civil legal service programs awarded funding from COSSAP include:

AppalReD Legal Aid has been awarded $291,159.

“AppalReD Legal Aid is excited to implement its K-CARE Project made possible through a COSSAP grant from the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet,” said AppalReD Legal Aid Executive Director Robert Johns. “The project will allow community resource coordinators to provide supportive services to clients impacted by substance abuse including the children and families of individuals in active abuse or recovery, victims of substance abuse-related crime, and individuals attempting to overcome substance abuse or addiction. These supportive services will enhance the legal services being provided by AppalReD Legal Aid’s attorneys and will make a difference in the lives of the clients.”

Kentucky Legal Aid has been awarded $209,533.

“The opioid epidemic has left countless families in our community in crisis. Many of their challenges are best addressed within the civil justice system, but the demands of litigation are often overwhelming while struggling to provide for immediate basic needs. To enhance the free legal services it provides, Kentucky Legal Aid will use the grant funds to hire two full-time Community Resource Coordinators,” said Kentucky Legal Aid Executive Director Amanda Young. “The Community Resource Coordinators will connect clients and their families to supportive community services and empower clients to navigate the complexities of the legal system. This individualized assistance will allow clients to focus on the legal issues presented, dramatically increasing the likelihood that families are able to achieve long-term stability.”

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass has been awarded $602,924.

“The COSSAP funding allows Kentucky’s Civil Legal Service providers to elevate their service to those in recovery from substance abuse. Our attorneys will remove legal barriers through the justice system and our community resource team will provide wrap around services which set families up for long term stability,” said Legal Aid of the Bluegrass Executive Director Joshua Crabtree. “Our project, The Kentucky Comprehensive Advocacy and Resources Effort (K-CARE), will create pathways to healing for individuals and families negatively affected by substance abuse disorders. Legal Aid of the Bluegrass is proud to be part of the community of services dedicated to helping families rise above addiction and live healthy productive lives.”

Legal Aid Society has been awarded $91,150.

“This support will allow us all to further our mission to help some of the most vulnerable in our community. Legal services are most effective when they are provided in the context of a holistic service model that identifies and connects with the client at a core level,” said Legal Aid Society Executive Director Neva Scott. “Addiction and substance abuse affect the whole person and we need to address the whole person when we provide legal services. This funding provides us with tools that we have never had before and gives our clients access to resources that they would not otherwise have been connected to during their work with legal aid. We are grateful for this unique opportunity to expand our holistic service model.”

In June 2021, Gov. Beshear announced more than $570,000 in COSSAP grant funding had been awarded to the Jeffersontown Police Department and Access to Justice Commission to develop a variety of treatment options and provide the commonwealth with another resource tool to end the devastating drug epidemic.

COSSAP was developed as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) legislation. For more information on COSSAP, click here.

Since taking office, the Governor has continued his pledge to fight tirelessly for those suffering from substance abuse, along with their families. “One life lost to an overdose death is one too many. Kentucky must fight and win against the drug epidemic, we cannot take our eyes off the increased risk of substance use and overdose deaths. That is why my administration has continued to award millions in grant funding to increase access to treatment services and recovery programs, and to help retain employment for persons in recovery seeking employment and job training.”

In Feb. 2021, the Beshear administration also announced $4.6 million in grant funding to expand treatment and recovery services, including those for mothers and pregnant women with opioid use disorders and an additional $1.4 million to assist state and local law enforcement with efforts to prevent or reduce crime and violence, and address drug trafficking in their communities.

By the end of 2022, the Beshear administration in partnership with the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), estimates that over a three-year period the office will have awarded more than $69 million in grant funding across the commonwealth, focused on aiding all Kentuckians in need of recovery help and preventing future generations from falling prey to addiction.

Another step the Governor has taken this past year to help provide treatment to those fighting a substance use disorder and keep those in recovery on the path toward healing was signing House Bill 7 into law to ensure that communities are recovery-ready by having resources in place, such as employment, transportation, recovery meetings and support groups.

Treatment Resources

The KY Help Call Center, created in 2017 through a partnership with Operation UNITE, remains available to those with a substance use disorder, or their friends or family members, as a quick resource to information on treatment options and open slots among treatment providers. Individuals may call 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak one-on-one with a specialist who will connect them with treatment as quickly as possible.

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health manages a vital website, www.findhelpnowky.org, for Kentucky health care providers, court officials, families and individuals seeking options for substance abuse treatment and recovery. It offers real-time information about available space in treatment programs, and guides users to the right type of treatment for their needs. The site provides a search engine for drug treatment, helping users locate treatment providers based on location, facility type, and category of treatment needed.

The Kentucky State Police (KSP) Angel Initiative is a proactive program designed to help people battle addiction. Anyone suffering from a substance use disorder can visit one of KSP’s 16 posts located throughout the commonwealth to be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and individuals will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to participate in treatment. For more information about the Angel Initiative, visit the KSP website.

ODCP has continued to work diligently with several agencies throughout the commonwealth, including Kentucky Opioid Response Effort, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, Department of Corrections, and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, to successfully increase the distribution of naloxone (Narcan). To access naloxone or for more resources on how to respond to an overdose, click here.

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