Caring Workplaces receives $924,000 grant through Opioid Abatement Council

Published 9:10 am Monday, April 8, 2024

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The First Tennessee Development District’s Caring Workplaces initiative has been awarded about $924,000 out of the first round of community grants awarded through the state opioid abatement fund.

Caring Workplaces seeks to create a healthy and safe environment in which employers, employees, and communities can collaborate to create positive change and eliminate barriers for those impacted by substance abuse and incarceration.

An FTDD release announcing the grant said the additional funds will be used to continue Ballad Health’s peer support wraparound services for clients, including housing support. In partnership with Recovery Resources, housing funds will be made available to support the cost of recovery housing while clients establish themselves in a job or during training offered by the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Elizabethton. 

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Other partnerships include Uplift Appalachia, which will help address transportation barriers related to employment, education, and treatment by mobilizing churches in the region to be part of the solution, according to the FTDD release. Uplift is developing a certification program so all drivers can better understand and support clients of the program. 

The ETSU Addiction Science Center will use funds to support employers with policy reviews and supervisor training. Since its inception, approximately 1,000 clients have been served, 76 employers have become Caring Workplaces, and over 300 individuals have become employed.

Nearly $81 million in grants

In late March, Tennessee’s Opioid Abatement Council released community grants totaling $80,936,057. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Human Services said in a release that programs funded through the grants will support work in response to opioid addiction throughout Tennessee for up to three years.

Organizations from across the state designed programs and submitted 396 proposals during the OAC’s application period last fall. Council staff and members processed, evaluated and scored the proposals. The Opioid Abatement Council debated and approved 116 grants during a meeting in Farragut on March 18.

Tennessee Abatement Council Funding in Northeast Tennessee totaled $7,850,501. In addition to Caring Workplaces, recipients included:

— A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, ACTION Recovery Resource Center, $242,500;

— Ballad Health, Strong Futures OUD/SUD Treatment Services for pregnant and parenting women, $509,075;

— Carter County Drug Prevention Council, using strategic framework to prevent OUD students in Carter County, $147,529;

— East Tennessee State University, to support multiple programs that address SUD, stigma reduction, health services, and other initiatives, $4,236,350;

— Fairview Housing Management Corp., recovery in action support services, $422,000; and

— Frontier Health, Youth Drug Prevention Project, $1,369,047

Funds fight opioid addiction

“When the history of the opioid crisis in our state is written, people will look back at this date as a landmark on the road to healing the unbelievable harm done to so many families and communities,” said Dr. Stephen Loyd, Opioid Abatement Council chairman. “At every meeting, we pause to ‘remember our why,’ and I can say that the level of thought and care put into this process truly honors the ‘why’ for all of our members and the countless families that have been touched by opioid addiction in Tennessee.”

Funding for the community grants comes from settlements with opioid producers, distributors, pharmacies, and marketers litigated by the Tennessee Attorney General.

“The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office is so proud of the Opioid Abatement Council’s diligent efforts to fight the opioid epidemic,” Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said. “This office has worked hard for years to obtain money for Tennessee’s Opioid Abatement Trust Fund by holding companies accountable for their opioid-related misconduct. We are gratified to see that money put to good use by the Council and the grant recipients. We have ensured that settlement money will flow into the trust fund for years to come, and we thank the Opioid Abatement Council and its chairman, Dr. Stephen Loyd, for their wise stewardship of these hard-earned dollars.”

Tennessee’s Opioid Abatement Council was established by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2021 to decide how to best spend dollars received from lawsuits related to the opioid crisis.