Suffolk County Community College has a new weapon in the fight against Long Island’s rising heroin addiction and chemical dependency epidemic.
The college was the sole New York State program and one of 18 programs nationally to be awarded a Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Paraprofessionals grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.
The three-year award totaling $847,059 will provide support for tuition and books for 120 students each year who are enrolled in the College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood. The grant will also support career development and job placement services for students.
Kathleen Ayers-Lanzillotta, Suffolk’s CDC Program coordinator, who will serve as project director, said the grant will expand the college’s capacity to train certified behavioral health paraprofessionals and will increase the capacity of the Chemical Dependency Counseling certificate and associate degree program by 71 percent, to 120 students each year. No other Long Island community college program offers this training to the region’s more than 2.8 million residents.
“This grant,” said Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun L. McKay, “comes to us at a time when we’ve seen a record number of heroin deaths on Long Island and drug abuse, sadly, continues to rise. This federal award will allow Suffolk County Community College to train and certify compassionate professionals who will help Long Islanders fight the scourge of chemical and drug dependency.”
Recruitment efforts will target high school graduates, veterans, individuals in recovery, unemployed and dislocated workers and workers who are entering the workforce or are transitioning to a new job or career.
The program will partner with community organizations to recruit participants and to provide field experiences and job placement services to prepare graduates to meet the growing demand for credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors to serve at-risk children, adolescents, transitional-age youth and their families on Long Island.