Research has found a clear link between parental substance abuse and youth running away from home. Increasingly, these substances are opioids, leading to both family and youth homelessness.

On Tuesday, April 24, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously passed S. 2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. This comprehensive bipartisan bill includes more than 40 proposals from 38 different senators aimed at combating the opioid crisis. Among those proposals are efforts to address the impact of the opioid crisis on children, youth, and families, including:

  • Youth Prevention and Recovery Initiative – This initiative would require the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Department of Education, to identify and disseminate best practices for the prevention of and recovery from substance use disorder, including for specific populations such as homeless youth and youth in foster care. Grants would be authorized to carry out substance abuse disorder prevention and treatment programs.
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences Data Collection – To help understand the causes and effects of adverse childhood experiences, this subtitle would authorize the Centers for Disease Control to support states in collecting and reporting data on adverse childhood experiences through public health surveys.
  • Interagency Task Force on Trauma-Informed Supports – To help identify, prevent, and address the impact of trauma on children and youth, including trauma related to substance abuse, this subtitle creates a task force to recommend best practices for supporting children and families who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing trauma.
  • Demonstration Grants for Trauma-Informed Supports and Mental Health Care – To better support children and families impacted by the opioid crisis, this subtitle would create a grant to increase student support services and better integrate mental health care in schools, aimed at preventing and mitigating the effects of negative childhood experiences.

S. 2680 now awaits a floor vote. A summary of the legislation may be found here.

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