Harford County is set to get a $420,000 federal grant to help educate middle and high school students about substance misuse.
The funding was included in the $242 billion Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2023, which was passed by the House Appropriations Committee and will go before the full U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. A date for that vote has not been set yet, but House leadership would like to pass the appropriations bills before the August recess, according to U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger’s office.
“Now more than ever, we must provide communities with the resources needed to confront this crisis head-on,” said Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat. “This funding will provide students in Harford County with the information necessary to make healthy, safe choices that set them up for success. I am proud to have fought for this funding on behalf of my constituents, and I thank my fellow Appropriators for recognizing the need for these vital resources.”
Ruppersberger requested the funding for Ashley Addiction Treatment Center, a Harford County-based nonprofit focusing on treatment of substance abuse disorders. With the funding, Ashley plans to work with the local school board to coordinate delivery of new programs for students about the impacts of drug use on their health.
“Substance use disorder treatment facilities tend to focus much attention on treating substance use disorders, with less attention paid to prevention,” said Greg Hobelmann, co-CEO and president of Ashley Treatment. “We know that this has to change if we are to make strides in reducing the impact of substance use disorders on individuals, families and society. As such, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to use these funds to further a dedicated substance use education program for youth, so we can do our part in helping to prevent this devastating disorder.”
The funds will be used to develop curriculum, hire staff and measure the results, according to a news release.
“Harford County Public Schools is excited to partner with Ashley Treatment in providing education to our students about substance use prevention and healthy alternatives to coping with life stressors,” said Christina Alton, Mental Health Specialist with Harford County Public Schools. “This work will strengthen our current relationship established by the Adolescent Clubhouse, a resource utilized by HCPS students and their families.”
Harford County Public Schools staff are reviewing the requirements set forth in the bill for school systems, said Jillian Lader manager of HCPS communications. HCPS will work with the Maryland State Department of Education to implement the components required of the school system, Lader said.
However, all curricula must go through the general curriculum committee which is comprised of many stakeholders including staff, students, parents, guardians and board members, Lader said.
The project is one of 15 Community Project Funding requests submitted by Ruppersberger in the 12 various appropriations bills for 2023. It is among more than 4,700 projects submitted by members of the House of Representatives collectively, only some of which will be approved.