BROCKTON – The U.S. Department of Justice awarded a $1.18 million grant to the Plymouth County district attorney's office to help children affected by drug use in their families and community.
The grant will allow the office to hire a project coordinator for the effort and partner with organizations that help kids impacted by substance use disorders.
“Identifying and offering support to children living in homes with addiction is an important step in disrupting the cycles of trauma and helping children and families build resilience," Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz said in a statement. "Securing this grant money will help assist us in enhancing Plymouth County’s response to the trauma that these children are witnessing."
The South Shore has been hard hit by the opioid crisis – law enforcement, elected officials and community leaders have been grappling with opioids for more than a decade.
Plymouth County in particular has seen high death rates. According to state data, the county saw more than 270 overdose deaths per 100,000 people between 2010 and 2020, second only to Bristol County for highest death rate. Brockton, Rockland and Carver had some of the highest death rates for municipalities across the state in that decade.
Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz Joe Difazio/Patriot Ledger
The grant, which comes from a Justice Department program aimed at curbing the effects of drug use, will be distributed over three years.
Plymouth County's Drug Endangered Children Initiative, born out of the county's drug abuse task force created by Cruz and Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald, has been recognized by the state for its effort in helping kids with trauma caused by drug use in their families.
To the Moon and Back, a nonprofit that helps kids born with exposure to or dependence on opioids, will be one of the district attorney's partners.
"This year we are conducting a research study on the long-term impacts of in-utero opiate exposure. This grant will allow us to educate families and providers on our findings to help develop lacking best practices in the educational, medical, and social emotional care of these children," Theresa Harmon, the group’s executive director and founder, said in a statement.
The district attorney's office will also partner with Community Connections of Brockton and The Family Center, Balance4Kids and Calmer Choice.