For Immediate Release
Contact: Lindsay Corcoran 508-368-7252
WORCESTER –Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. announced today that his office received a $1.6 million federal grant through the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance to expand drug diversion programs across Worcester County and build a network of support for children exposed to drug overdoses in their families and in their backyards and home environments.
“As we continue our work to fight against the opioid epidemic, we want to make sure those suffering from substance use disorder get the treatment they need,” said Mr. Early. “We also know Substance Use Disorder is a disease that affects the entire family, with children often being the forgotten victims who are traumatized when a family member is caught in addiction. Our aim is to provide a soft touch and a helping hand to eliminate long-term trauma to these kids.”
This grant funding will allow for the continuation of court-based drug diversion programs in Leominster, Fitchburg, Clinton, Milford, Gardner and Winchendon District Courts, as well as the expansion of the diversion program to courts in Dudley, East Brookfield, Uxbridge, and Westborough District Courts.
Clinicians from AdCare Hospital, a partner on this grant, will provide on-site assessment services to individuals referred to the diversion program in the 10 courts across Worcester County. This program will allow low-level offenders suffering from a Substance Use Disorder to enter a treatment program.
“AdCare Hospital is grateful to be working with the Worcester DA Diversion Program,” said Andrea Dayotas, Executive Director of Inpatient Services at AdCare. “This year we are expanding our bandwidth of services to a total of nine court systems throughout Central Massachusetts. We are committed to fighting the disease of addiction in our communities.”
The National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC), our second grant partner, will assist in the advancement of a Worcester County Drug Endangered Children’s Alliance, which will connect community partners and resources from across the county, create a network of support, and reduce trauma for children exposed to family drug use. National DEC will perform a community needs assessment and provide training and technical assistance to strengthen the local alliance.
“The National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC) is excited to be a collaborative partner in this grant,” said Stacee Read, Director of Network Development at National DEC. “Our staff has worked with DA Early and his office over the past several years by providing training and technical assistance to assist in starting drug endangered children efforts. What we have found is that DA Early and his office are filled with great knowledge and experience, but most importantly the passion for this work that will in turn help to change the trajectory of children and families’ lives in Worcester County. We are truly honored to be walking this journey with DA Early and Worcester County DA’s Office to collaboratively help children and families impacted by parental or caregiver substance use.”
The Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Site-Based Program grant was awarded in late 2022 with work set to begin this year.
“I’d like to thank our partners and all those who helped us secure this grant, especially Congressman James McGovern,” Mr. Early said. “These funds will help us save lives and prevent future crime by getting help to those who need it and by protecting children from trauma.”
“The opioid epidemic has claimed the lives of thousands in communities across America,” said Congressman McGovern. “Investing in drug diversion programs and supporting children of caregivers who have a substance use disorder reduces harm, corrects decades of punitive public policy, and promotes health, healing and long-term recovery. These initiatives will provide a hand to those struggling with substance use and their families, helping them create a future of hope and possibilities.”