The City of Boston was selected to receive a $50,000 Special Initiatives Grant to take steps towards developing a citywide strategy for prevention of Substance Use Disorders , Mayor Marty Walsh’s office said in a press release November 28.
The grant funding with be used to develop a comprehensive needs assessment to help develop the citywide strategy, Walsh’s office said. The strategy will help “map current prevention efforts, increase access to underserved high-risk youth, and catalyze future investments in prevention.”
The Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services (ORS) will then use the findings to develop a plan “to set prevention priorities and build comprehensive responses across the city,” Walsh’s office said.
“Too many Bostonians know firsthand the devastation that substance abuse causes in our City’s families and neighborhoods,” Mayor Walsh said in a statement. “This assessment will help provide a holistic overview that identifies gaps in coordination among the services and programs available for those struggling with addiction so that together we can build an unbreakable chain of recovery services.”
Audrey Shelto, President of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation said in a statement that he hopes that through this collaboration, it will create an opportunity with providing prevention education “to fight the opioid epidemic that has claimed so many lives in the city of Boston.”
The process will begin in December and will last for six months, Walsh’s office said. During that period, a community needs assessment of drug and alcohol prevention programming will be conducted, the process will also identify best practice models and provide recommendations for the City of Boston.
According to the City, the assessment and work plan will consist of:
- Continued engagement with community stakeholders, with a particular focus on promoting diversity and increasing health equity across all Boston neighborhoods;
- An environmental scan, including a service and gap analysis;
- Review of promising practices resulting in a data informed, concrete, and actionable plan for using resources effectively;
The plan will also include the creation of a Youth Prevention Advisory Group, Walsh’s office said. It will be comprised of local youth substance use experts and key community stakeholders to help guide the process.
The plan will also include efforts from community health centers, after-school programs, public/private schools, and faith-based partners to aid with the prevention strategy, Walsh’s office said. This will allow ORS to be prepared to provide recommendations “that will address the current gaps in capacity and prevention needs. It will also better align the City’s prevention services with best practices and lead to an innovative model for the City of Boston.”
“Identifying both strengths and gaps in current prevention efforts is key to continuing to grow and strengthen the work being done through a number of partnerships with public health, our health care partners, and the City,” BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH said in a statement. “We’re grateful for MGH’s long term commitment to addressing the national opioid epidemic, a public health issue that is deeply impacting Boston residents.”
Jen Tracey, Director of the Office of Recovery Services said in a statement that with this partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, “the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services has a unique opportunity to comprehensively expand the scope of its prevention efforts to fully support our young people and their families.”