Harkins, Merski: Nearly $300,000 awarded to continue Erie opioid education, prevention programs

ERIE, Sept. 8 – Grant funding of $299,733 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will continue an Erie pilot program to educate students about opioid dangers and help families keep kids safe, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today.

The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Family Services of NW PA will support the Erie Opioid Misuse Prevention Project – one of five pilot programs statewide that are providing evidence-based strategies to reduce risk factors that lead kids to substance abuse and other problems.

“The statewide Opioid Disaster Declaration recently expired after the Republican-controlled legislature failed to extend it,” Harkins said. “At the same time, the numbers are showing that opioid overdoses spiked during the pandemic. It’s a bad combination and highlights why it is so critical to keep youth education and prevention programs going.”

Merski said, “The pilot programs are evidence-based and have been working to make sure kids understand the risks of opioid use and help families develop strategies to keep kids safe and steer them away from drug use and other risky behaviors. Thanks to this funding, those programs are going to continue for another year.”

The lawmakers said Erie’s program, like the other pilots, is part of the Opioid Misuse Prevention Project and operates through partnerships among counties, school districts, local nonprofits, and the community at large. Funding was recommended by PCCD’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee and comes from federal State Opioid Response funds.

The grants are part of a package awarded to programs statewide.

In addition, the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine was approved for funding under the 2021 SBIRT Projects in Postsecondary Institutions program. The program is a comprehensive approach to early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance or mental health disorders and those at increased risk of developing those disorders.

More about PCCD and the commission’s funding is available here.