Clark State Community College has been awarded $899,228 in grant funding from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to combat the nation’s opioid crisis.
“Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “With our evidence-based strategy, HHS is working to support local communities in fighting back against substance abuse, and our united efforts are yielding results. Together, we can end our country’s opioid crisis and lay a foundation for a healthier country where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.”
Clark State’s grant proposal noted that many people in rural areas of Ohio have extremely limited access to medication-assisted treatment, and it is a critical issue in the rural areas of Southwest Ohio where opioid abuse rates are high but local access to treatment is limited. Clark State serves both urban and rural communities in its catchment area.
“Addiction is a serious problem in our city, our region, our state and our nation,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Clark State wants to be a problem-solver, and knowing the excellent education provided by our social services faculty and the strong support we get from our partners, we knew we had to jump at this opportunity.”
The need for paraprofessionals and professionals to address the impact of addiction and to aid in recovery is great throughout Ohio, especially in the state’s Southwestern region. The new proposed paraprofessionals certificates that Clark State will develop and implement will expand the knowledge, skills and abilities of its graduates as they work for, and with, community partners in the public sector and private sector to deliver needed services to combat addiction in the region. Those programs will also serve as the launching point for their respective careers in chemical dependency, addiction and mental health services.
“The workforce problem in our area is three-fold: there is a significant workforce shortage (not enough skilled candidates to fill positions); providers compete for the limited pool of skilled workers; and entry-level workers could be retained and move-up by raising their trauma-informed, integrated addiction competencies and credentials,” said Dr. Greta H. Mayer, CEO – Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties.
Clark State will partner with multiple employers and agencies across Clark, Greene, Champaign, Logan, Madison and Montgomery counties to ensure the successful delivery of the CDCA I and II and the PPRS paraprofessionals education and training programs. The College has been working with all of these partners to address their hiring needs for both paraprofessionals and professionals including licensed chemical dependency counselors II and III. All of these partner agencies expressed an urgent need for skilled workers in the field of addictions and integrated treatment.