CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — The West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety (DMAPS) was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The $6.5 million dollars comes from the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program (COAP).
The grants are awarded to programs with a focus on three goals. Those include early intervention and prevention, diversion and evidence-based treatment.
The beneficiaries of the grant include a program started in West Virginia that now reaches at least 27 states. It is the Defending Childhood Initiative known as Handle With Care. The money will go to expand and improve the program to achieve the goal of early intervention and prevention.
Handle With Care seeks to prevent children from being exposed to trauma and violence and lessen the negative effects when they are. It is overseen by the Center for Children’s Justice at the West Virginia State Police.
“Handle With Care is a community partnership between law enforcement, schools and mental health providers to help children succeed every day to the very best of their ability despite any childhood adversities they have had or are currently experiencing,” said Center Director Andrea Darr.
Handle With Care hosted its annual conference at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. It wrapped up on Oct. 18, 2019. More than 600 people attended the three-day event including representatives from 19 states.
The grant will also support the West Virginia Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. LEAD is a national initiative which pursues community-based supportive services as an alternative to the criminal justice system in appropriate cases. It is supported by the Office of Drug Control Policy at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
“The Office of Drug Control Policy is proud to partner with agencies like DMAPS to combat West Virginia’s substance use epidemic,” said Director Bob Hansen. “The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program is critical to supporting and strengthening ongoing initiatives.”
The LEAD portion of the funding will be focused in Braxton, Clahoun, Clay, Gilmer, Webster and Wirt Counties as they currently lack diversion programs. Those counties will also see expanded and enhanced telehealth services.