The National Association of Counties (NACo), U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the State Justice Institute have partnered for a new initiative, Reaching Rural: Advancing Collaborative Solutions.
Reaching Rural is intended to develop “bold solutions to the persistent challenge of substance use and misuse in rural communities.” The program is open to individual health practitioners or cross-sector teams of justice and public safety practitioners, health practitioners, local government leaders, and community groups. Per NACo, the program offers the following:
- Travel and per diem costs to participate in an orientation, a field visit to observe the implementation of evidence-informed practices in a rural setting and a capstone session at the end of the 12-month initiative
- Monthly mentorship and guidance aimed toward your local needs
- Monthly assignments that help you apply core concepts to your local community or region
- Access to a diverse network of rural peers, innovative rural communities, and technical assistance providers; and
- Formal recognition for completing the planning initiative.
NACo reports that between 1999 and 2015, overdose deaths increased 325 percent in rural counties. According to the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC), several rural Maryland counties have seen significant increases in substance use disorder-related fatalities since 2021, including Garrett (75%), Kent (100%), and Worchester (10%). The OOCC notes that “fentanyl continues to be the primary driver of overdose mortality in Maryland.”
The Reaching Rural application is available here and is open until September 30, 2022, at 5:00 PM ET. Participation is limited to up to 20 individual practitioners and up to 10 cross-sector teams.