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PSU researcher shares preliminary findings on how counties are spending opioid settlement funds

Anne Danahy

A Penn State professor is sharing preliminary findings from the Elevate Pennsylvania Initiative. It’s meant to maximize the impact of opioid settlement funds in the state.

Pennsylvania is getting about $2 billion as part of nationwide settlements involving the opioid epidemic.

Kristina Brant is an assistant professor of rural sociology. She’s also a part of the Elevate Pennsylvania Initiative, which includes researchers from Penn State, Pitt and Temple.

Brant is surveying counties across the state on their planning and decision making process for using the settlement funds. Six counties are included in the survey: three urban and three rural.

“It seems across counties that there's a big push towards housing needs. A lot of counties are recognizing that folks have a great need for having spaces to go to, especially when leaving places like jail or prison as well or leaving treatment," Brant said. “A lot of counties are using funds to support expansion of medication for opioid use disorder in their local jails. So counties have been tasked to really think about what they provide in their jails, and try to expand services there."

But Brant said some counties are hesitant to fund some harm reduction services, like needle exchange programs.

And Brant said she heard from many people in the survey that those with lived experience should be part of the decision making process, but she said this isn’t always done.

“In some counties, folks with lived experience were consulted for planning, but they weren't really looped into the power structures," Brant said.

Brant said the data should be published later this year. She hopes it will give counties ideas and improve their decision-making process.

Copyright 2024 WPSU. To see more, visit WPSU.

Corrected: January 26, 2024 at 12:36 PM EST
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Kristina Brant's name.