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Institute for Health Innovation Leads
Effort to Support Children Impacted
by the Opioid Epidemic

therapy session

Sept. 18, 2020 —  Northern Kentucky University's Institute for Health Innovation (IHI) announces a new federal grant-funded program to continue addressing the opioid epidemic's impact on local families.

The U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services' Bureau of Health Workforce awarded over $2 million dollars to NKU. The funds will be used to create the Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program (OIFSP), an innovative effort to increase the region's number of health professionals trained to support children and adolescents whose parents have been impacted by substance misuse. Through the program, affected families can receive support with connecting to resources, navigating health and social services, and working to instill hope and lasting recovery.

"This program infuses our health care ecosystem with a trained, effective workforce that goes the extra mile with what's most important for families: healthy relationships and support for their children," said Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, IHI executive director and vice president for Health Innovation. "Recent estimates show northern Kentucky has about a fifth of treatment capacity for outpatient services, leaving over 8,000 patients without appropriate treatment options. This is something we must address."

Overdose rates are considerably higher than the national average in Boone, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton Counties. The overdose rates in these counties has nearly doubled throughout the pandemic. To increase the health care capital for this eight-county region, NKU is developing a specialized track within its Human Services and Addiction undergraduate program. The grant will also create scholarship opportunities for students as well as year-long paid apprenticeships.

"Training paraprofessionals to provide support services is a cost-effective and efficient health care solution for an under-resourced region, like northern Kentucky," said Dr. Hardcastle.

Additional primary partners for the program include NorthKey Community Care, Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Brighton Center and the Children's Home of Northern Kentucky.

NKU's Institute for Health Innovation continues driving change by directly addressing our communities' unmet health challenges. Since its inception in 2018, the IHI has received approximately $6.2 million in federal grant funding.  To learn more about the OIFSP program and IHI's latest initiatives, visit its website.


About NKU: Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 15,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit