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Indy Foundation Announces Grant To Train Substance Abuse Workers

A new grant program from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation will attempt to fill a significant need for workers trained in addiction treatment. A Fairbanks report released last fall shows more than 1,200 Hoosier lives were claimed in 2015 as a result of the opioid epidemic.

The $376,000, 18-month grant will be used to develop a new model for training social workers specializing in substance abuse.

Fairbanks President and CEO Claire Fiddian-Green says the need to close the gap between addicted individuals and treatment is overwhelming.

"We have recent survey data that shows that two-thirds of behavioral health physicians, including people who are providing addiction treatment counseling, are only operating at half their capacity," she says. "That means they can only supply enough trained professionals to meet half the demand for those services."

The grant will support Ascend Indiana, a workforce development initiative, which will create the training model in partnership with Community Health and an education institution.

Ascend President and CEO Jason Kloth says he expects both immediate and long-term impacts from the program.

"And in an ideal world, it could be replicated across the country, and then the impact isn't on 3,000 individuals, but tens of thousands of individuals who are suffering from this, and even greater if you look at it from a national perspective," Kloth says. "It really is that short term, immediate need, but also what we learn and can share and distribute so that others can benefit from it."

The program will allow Community Health to train up to 50 licensed professionals each year, which will help treat 3,000 Hoosiers.

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