White House Drug Policy Office awards $250,000 to Greater Falls Connections for prevention efforts

BELLOWS FALLS — Greater Falls Connections (GFC) in Bellows Falls has received a Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grant to Address Local Drug Crisis (CARA) of $250,000 from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

According to a ONDCP news release, the CARA program “enhances the efforts of current or former Drug-Free Communities (DFC) program recipients to prevent opioid, methamphetamine, and prescription drug use among youth ages 12-18 across the United States.”

GFC says it is using the funding to involve and engage the local community to reduce the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), a major factor in developing substance use disorder (SUD).

“This new funding will be essential in responding to the needs of youth and families who are most impacted by trauma and substance use in our community,” said Laura Schairbaum, Greater Falls Connections Director.

The CARA grant program is a partnership between ONDCP and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It aims to reduce youth substance use by providing funding to local coalitions to help them apply evidence-based prevention strategies to the emerging challenges in their communities.

“We know that delaying substance use until after adolescence decreases the likelihood of a person developing a substance use disorder,” said ONDCP Acting Director Regina Labelle. “It is also important that we consider social determinants of health such as poverty, homelessness, and other conditions as we build effective prevention strategies. This funding will help support the Biden-Harris Administration's mission to expand evidence-based prevention, treatment, and harm reduction services by providing our local partners in Bellows Falls with the resources they need to reduce youth substance use.”

Supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use is one of the White House's drug policy priorities. This includes expanding access to treatment, advancing racial equity regarding drug policy, enhancing harm reduction efforts, reducing the supply of illicit substances, and expanding access to recovery support services.

With this funding, GFC says it will “support training and technical assistance for employers, health care providers, schools, and mentors to increase social connections. This work will also support trauma-informed services and spaces that are accessible to families impacted by generational trauma and substance use.”

The grant will also help GFC's youth group - Above the Influence, which is co-facilitated with Friends for Change - to “learn and apply Restorative Practices to create community healing, resiliency, and increase peer supports.”

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