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War on Addiction: Suffolk Awarded $847K Federal Grant, Sole NY Recipient, One of 18 NationallySuffolk County Community College has a new weapon in the fight against Long Island’s rising heroin addiction and chemical dependency epidemic.
Suffolk County Community College was the sole New York State program and one of 18 programs nationally to be awarded a Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Paraprofessionals (BHWET) grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The College received news about the grant award in late September.
The three-year award totaling $847,059 will support 85 percent of tuition, fees and supplies for students enrolled in the College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling (CDC) program on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood. The grant will also support career development and job placement services for students.
Kathleen Ayers-Lanzillotta, Suffolk’s CDC Program Coordinator, who will serve as project director, said the grant will expand the College’s capacity to train certified behavioral health paraprofessionals and will increase the capacity of the Chemical Dependency Counseling certificate and associate degree program by 71 percent, to 120 students each year. No other Long Island community college program offers this training to the region’s more than 2.8 million residents.
“This grant,” said Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun L. McKay, “comes to us at a time when we’ve seen a record number of heroin deaths on Long Island and drug abuse, sadly, continues to rise. This federal award will allow Suffolk County Community College to train and certify compassionate professionals who will help Long Islanders fight the scourge of chemical and drug dependency.”
In Suffolk County, 11th and 12th graders reported that their first drug use occurred at 14.3 years of age, while 7th and 8th graders reported first using drugs at 11.5 years old (2010-2011 Long Island Regional Youth Development Survey). Among the 18,724 individuals surveyed by chemical dependency treatment programs in Suffolk County in 2012, alcohol was self-identified most often as the primary drug of abuse (40.5 percent), followed by heroin (18 percent); 35 percent of those served were under 26 years of age (Suffolk County Community Health Assessment 2014-17). One in five Suffolk County teens report abusing prescription pain medications, prescription stimulants, and/or tranquilizers (2010-2011 Long Island Regional Youth Development Survey).
Kathleen Ayers-Lanzillotta, Suffolk’s CDC Program Coordinator and Project Director, earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from SUNY Albany, a Bachelor’s Degree in Community and School Health Education and Psychology from Stony Brook University, and is a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC).
Graduates fulfill all the educational and internship requirements established by the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to become a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee (CASAC-T) and by the International Credentialing Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC) to be prepared to sit for the Credentialed Alcoholism Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) exam.
Recruitment efforts will target high school graduates, veterans, individuals in recovery, unemployed and dislocated workers and workers who are entering the workforce or are transitioning to a new job or career.
The program will partner with community organizations to recruit participants and to provide field experiences and job placement services to prepare graduates to meet the growing demand for credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors to serve at-risk children, adolescents, transitional-age youth and their families on Long Island.
(HHS Appropriations Act required statement: Project total cost will be $847,059 supported 100 percent by funds from the U.S. Department of HHS HRSA.)