Polk receives grant for new position

Published 9:11 pm Monday, November 25, 2019

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County awarded $125k a year from Drug Free Communities Support Program

COLUMBUS—Polk County will hire a person soon to focus entirely on substance abuse prevention. 

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met last week and accepted a $125,000 per year grant from Drug Free Communities. The grant will be for five years at $125,000 a year for a temporary employee as well as implementing programs. 

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Commissioners heard from Polk County Consolidated Human Services Director Joshua Kennedy. 

Kennedy said the grant is for $125,000 for five years. The grant will pay for one position and will be specifically designed to work with the youth in the county. The grant will pay the salary plus any programs needed. 

Polk County held two opioid forums recently to address the opioid crisis to address the substance abuse crisis in the county. The forums created work groups to address issues people are concerned about. 

The grant will focus entirely on substance abuse prevention using proven evidence based strategies and practices. The new employee may create a youth council to allow youth to advocate for policy changes in their communities, youth to youth mentoring opportunities, training for youth and adults in substance use prevention and more. 

DFC grantees have shown that they can prevent and reduce drug use in communities nationwide. DFC data includes that counties show a decrease in high school student’s use of the following drugs: Alcohol: 18.8 percent; marijuana: 6 percent; tobacco: 28.2 percent and prescription drugs: 15.9 percent. 

Middle school decreases were even higher: Alcohol: 27 percent; marijuana: 14 percent; tobacco: 31.7 percent and prescription drugs: 10.7 percent.