A new pilot program announced by Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis has been awarded $5 million in state funding to fight opioid addiction. The program seeks to adress the health and economic impacts of widespread substance and opioid misuse, addiction and overdose. The funds will provide so-called “wrap-around services” that include recovery and support, career training and employment counseling and coaching to participants directly impacted by the opioid epidemic.
“The opioid crisis continues to be a public health concern in Florida,” said Governor DeSantis. “We are grateful to U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia for partnering with Florida to implement this pilot program which will help create a talent pipeline for unfilled positions, offer opportunities to prepare those working in these fields to better identify and respond to individuals with a substance misuse disorders and prepare individuals in recovery to become peer counselors. We remain committed to helping Floridians who are being impacted by the opioid pandemic and look forward to our continued work with our public and private partners.”
First Lady Casey DeSantis has made mental health a focus of her time in the spotlight.
“Workforce development is a critical and too-often overlooked part of assisting individuals that have struggled with mental health and substance abuse challenges,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “I look forward to seeing these funds put into action.”
With funding provided by the U.S. Department of Labor and administered by Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, the Department will work with a number of community partners to address the economic effects of widespread substance misuse, including opioid abuse, addiction and overdose in significantly impacted service areas.
“We appreciate Governor and First Lady DeSantis for their steadfast commitment to supporting individuals battling the opioid epidemic across our state,” said Pamela Nabors, President and CEO of CareerSource Central Florida. “CareerSource Central Florida is looking forward to working with the Department of Economic Opportunity and our local partners to make a positive impact in the lives of these individuals during their critical recovery process.”
In addition to helping Floridians who are affected by the opioid epidemic, the new program will support training for new employees and incumbent workers in medical, mental health and substance-abuse recovery-related fields. The training is aimed at creating a talent pipeline for unfilled positions, offering opportunities to prepare those working in these fields to better identify and respond to individuals with substance abuse disorders and prepare individuals in recovery to become peer counselors.
In April 2019, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 19-97, to re-establish the Office of Drug Control, which was eliminated in 2011 by Governor Rick Scott, who viewed it as a taxpayer boondoggle and a “photo op prop shop” under the previous governor, Charlie Crist. But under DeSantis, the newly reincarnated office has taken a more aggressive stance at combating opioid abuse. Since relaunching the initiative, Florida was awarded $26 million in federal funding for Florida’s State Opioid Response Project, which is designed to address the opioid crisis by reducing opioid deaths, preventing opioid abuse among young people and increasing recovery services and access to treatment.