Fighting the opioid epidemic is part of our daily work at the Statehouse and back home in our districts. This crisis knows no boundaries — it targets suburbs, cities, rural areas, all income levels, children and adults. No single solution will take our communities back, and my colleagues and I realize this addiction must be fought on many fronts. As your state senator, I have prioritized toughening penalties for traffickers pushing fatal fentanyl and voted for investing in proven prevention and treatment programs to put victims on a path of sustained recovery.

Far too often our children and young people are the tragic victims of the evil grasp of opiates, and we must continue to focus on ways to keep them safe. As part of that comprehensive effort, the Senate passed a capital budget (H.B. 529) this year which included a new $20 million grant program for the building, expansion or renovation of spaces for middle and high school-aged youth affected by behavioral health issues like the opioid crisis. This funding will help our communities create outlets for those in vulnerable situations to find safety, and also the opportunity to create, learn, grow and change the course of their story.

If there is a youth-oriented organization in your community that meets the qualification and application guidelines for this Community Resiliency grant, please help me share this opportunity with them. Projects in areas of high poverty, low tax bases, limited philanthropy and ones with high drug overdose death rates will be given priority. The deadline to apply is Oct. 1, 2018, and full guidance and the application process can be found at https://mha.ohio.gov/Funding/Funding-Opportunities#38572170-fy-19-20-community-resiliency-project-capital-funding.

As we continue this fight together, I’m committed to protecting and supporting those most vulnerable among us, and I welcome your input on the challenges we face and your ideas for solutions. As always, please feel free to contact me at any time at Peterson@OhioSenate.gov or call my office at 614-466-8156.

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