NRVCS (New River Valley Community Services) is among 18 Community Services Boards across Virginia that will receive federal funds to help fight the state’s opioid epidemic.

Officials at NRVCS indicate that the agency will receive $194,824 to expand its treatment of substance use disorders, and another $32,100 for related prevention and support initiatives. In addition, NRVCS will be part of a regional award of $225,328 that is designed to enhance the availability of peer support services.

“We’re grateful for any funding that helps increase our ability to serve the community,” said NRVCS Executive Director James Pritchett, “but I’m especially pleased that we can utilize these funds in a way that aligns with our comprehensive approach to treating substance use disorders.”

Governor Terry McAuliffe first announced availability of the funding last month. According to the Governor’s statement, Virginia will receive a total of $9.7 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), as part of a one-year grant. Those funds are being administered by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS).

Allocation of funding among the 18 Community Services Boards (CSBs) was determined by the population of each CSB service area, as well as its rate of opioid overdose deaths.

Guidelines for the funds mandate that NRVCS provide services for an additional 43 individuals who are not already participating in treatment. Those consumers must be enrolled in services by April 30, 2018. Pritchett indicated that the bulk of the treatment funding would most likely be used to add a case management position and cover the cost of increased psychiatric services.

NRVCS, along with Blue Ridge Behavioral Health, Piedmont Community Services Board and Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services Board, will divide the funding designated for peer support services to establish a network of certified peer specialists. These positions – occupied by individuals who have lived experience – will work with local hospital emergency rooms to provide additional support and resources to patients who are admitted for issues related to substance use or mental health disorders.

Pritchett noted that NRVCS would likely serve as fiscal agent for the regional award and also be responsible for hiring a coordinator position to supervise the peer specialists that will work in those different areas.

Funding set aside for prevention will be used to supplement the opioid awareness and prevention efforts that are already occurring in the New River Valley under the Partnerships for Success grant. Those additional funds will also be used to develop a “warm line” to assist individuals in recovery, as well as the establishment of additional support groups.

All 18 of the CSBs receiving funds through the SAMHSA grant have been asked to submit an implementation plan to DBHDS by July. Once approved, funding for those programs will be released.

“Obviously, with a one-year grant, you automatically begin to think about how these initiatives can be sustained if the grant funding isn’t continued,” Pritchett added. “While we don’t have any control over that, we can strive for meaningful services that will produce positive outcomes and hopefully begin to move the needle on this issue that has impacted so many lives in the New River Valley.”