Carroll County awarded grant to prevent substance abuse


As Carroll County prepares to build a $4 million drug treatment center in Sykesville, it will also use a federal grant to keep youth out of the facility.

The federal government will provide $100,000 annually for the next five years from the Drug Free Communities Grant Program. The money will help coordinate programs to reduce substance abuse among youth and expand local prevention efforts.

About 20 percent of the annual funds, which are included in the federal budget for 2006, can be used for treatment services for those trying to recover from drug and alcohol abuse. The county will provide an in-kind match - in an amount yet to be determined - and will probably do so mostly with volunteer services.

"This grant will help improve collaboration among prevention providers who know what the problems are and how to deal with them and provide services," said Colleen Baumgartner, the county's grants specialist. "The idea is to strengthen local efforts."

The grant is renewable after the initial five years, but the county's match of in-kind services likely would be higher in 2011, she said. The program should spur an increase in volunteers who would provide the in-kind match, she said.

"By working with youth on prevention, we will, over time, affect the adult population so that they won't be entering the jail system," Baumgartner said.

A consultant's report on the jail population predicted a 20 percent increase in the next five years, much of it because of drug and alcohol abuse.

The county is about to break ground on its 24-bed, long-term residential drug treatment center on the grounds of Springfield Hospital Center. The facility, which will provide as much as 18 months of rehabilitation to drug abusers, is expected to open in about a year.

The county is contributing $2 million to the construction costs, with the state paying the balance of nearly $2 million. The state and county also are sharing operational costs estimated to be about $1.7 annually.

"We will attempt to recoup some of those costs from insurers," said Steven D. Powell, the commissioners' chief of staff. "This is an expensive venture, but shorter-term rehabilitation won't work."

The commissioners have asked the state to include its share of the project in its 2006 budget.

"We look forward to the anticipated support and the [state's] assistance as we bring to completion this much-needed service," the commissioners wrote in a letter dated yesterday to Dr. Peter F. Luongo, director of the state's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration.

An article Wednesday in the Carroll County section about a federal grant officials plan to use to prevent substance abuse among youth should have said the county is applying for the $100,000 annual grant but has yet to receive the money. The Sun regrets the error.
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