Funding tomorrow’s workforce for the drug addicted - $23 million in grants

Students specializing in drug addiction treatment and counseling at 6 facilities will have the opportunity to gain hands-on training in a new program that allows students to work with drug addicted patients.

The Substance Use Disorder Earn and Learn Program is funded by $23.3 million in grants and administered by the Department of Health Care Access and Information.

“Through this program, students will have the opportunity to work with real clients and to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned in a real-world setting,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

East Los Angeles College, University of Southern California, Cal Poly Humboldt, Youth Recovery Connections, Central California Recovery, and California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals are all awardees of the Earn and Learn grants which funds paid on-the-job training, then gives a bonus for career placement. It also covers costs of certification incentive programs for educational instructors and mentors.

Ghaly applauded the program saying, “This will not only help students to become better counselors, but it will also provide them with a unique perspective on the challenges and rewards of working in this field.”

Students in the program can focus on pursuing careers in drug addiction counseling and treatment in a supervised setting and the paid apprenticeship means their basic needs are met making it easier for students to reach certification.

“We are excited to support students with paid job experience while they work to become certified substance use counselors.” said HCAI Director Elizabeth Landsberg. “We are training and preparing a new generation of diverse substance use disorder counselors with lived experience to meet this moment and respond to the epidemic of substance use by young people.”

California’s ongoing Fentanyl crisis means the need for trained professionals in drug addiction is anticipated. The state funded program recognizes the need to increase the workforce with experience in the area of compassionate care for the addicted.

East Los Angeles College received the highest disbursement of approximately $6 million while the program at Cal Poly Humboldt required $500k at the opposite end of the funding range. The grant is sourced from the $4.7 billion Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI) from the 2023 Budget Act.

“California has a comprehensive approach to save lives and tackle the opioid crisis, but there is more work to do. With this program, we’re preparing our future workforce to treat and care for people suffering from substance use disorders with empathy and compassion,” Newsom acknowledged. “The opioid epidemic is having devastating impacts in communities all throughout our country.”

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