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New Jersey Announces Pilot Program to Assist Children, Families Affected by Addiction

By kbm0423 on
New Jersey

Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer, and Department of Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced the launch of a new pilot program to train law enforcement officers and community stakeholders on how to recognize and interact with children and families affected by addiction and connect them with systems of care. 

The program, known as the Child Trauma Response Initiative, will launch in three pilot municipalities across the state, which were identified based on an assessment of their need and existing resources:

  • Asbury Park (Monmouth County)
  • Millville (Cumberland County)
  • Plainfield (Union County)

According to Acting Attorney General Platkin, the Child Trauma Response Initiative, which is being paid for with $2 million in opioid settlement funds, will be administered under the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (“NJ CARES”), within the Department of Law and Public Safety, in coordination with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Human Services (DHS). 

The program's goal is to give law enforcement and community stakeholders the necessary tools to identify families – particularly children – impacted by addiction during opioid-related incidents and then link children and caregivers to the services they need to engage them in successful treatment and sustained recovery.

“Tragically, our youth are not immune to the effects of the ongoing opioid crisis. Too many children in our state have been impacted in some way by the struggles of their loved ones facing addiction,” said Governor Phil Murphy. 

“Connecting New Jersey children with the support they need to process these difficult experiences is a critical component of our ongoing efforts to address and mitigate the harms of this nationwide epidemic.”

“Among those hardest hit by the addiction epidemic are the children who experience trauma as the result of a parent or caregiver’s substance misuse. Sadly, this suffering is often overlooked,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. 

“By recognizing these hidden victims of addiction and intervening to help them and their families get the assistance they need, law enforcement can play a key role in reversing the long-lasting and destructive ripple effects of the opioid crisis.”

According to Acting Attorney General Platkin, initial funding for the Child Trauma Response Initiative comes from a settlement with global consulting firm McKinsey & Company that resolved an investigation into the company’s role in fueling the opioid epidemic by designing aggressive marketing strategies used by some of the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma. 

The State of New Jersey will receive approximately $16 million under that multistate settlement valued at $573 million.

The Child Trauma Response Initiative will forge a partnership among law enforcement, state agencies, and community providers that will utilize existing addiction and recovery services and programs to provide support and assistance to children and families who are experiencing emotional or behavioral crises as a result of addiction. 

The Child Trauma Response Initiative partnership will also address gaps in existing systems of care within the community to strengthen the safety net for children and families.

Acting Attorney General Platkin said that under the program, law enforcement and community stakeholders will be trained to identify the need to link families to services as a result of addiction in situations such as when:

  • A parent or other adult member of a child’s household has overdosed
  • A parent or other adult member of a child’s household has been arrested on drug-related charges
  • Law enforcement has responded to a domestic incident involving children, where drugs were involved

The Child Trauma Response Initiative program will train law enforcement officers to recognize circumstances that often occur in these conditions that may be traumatic to children and to link the family members to appropriate services that will provide them with support to heal from the trauma of the event and successfully recover.

“The Plainfield Police Department fully supports the Childhood Trauma Response Initiative,” said Plainfield Police Director James T. Abney. 

“Adverse Childhood Experiences directly impact communities such as Plainfield, and we commend the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office to address this important issue.”

The Child Trauma Response Initiative is the latest initiative from the Office of the Attorney General aimed at strengthening trust between law enforcement and historically marginalized communities and training police to serve as a lifeline to connect individuals in crisis to care and treatment instead of funneling them into the criminal justice system.

NJ CARES will hire a full-time individual that can act as a Project Manager to oversee, implement, and evaluate the CTRI. 

NJ CARES is now accepting applications for the position. For more information and how to apply, click here.