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YOR California: Making a Difference for Youth

The California Youth Opiate Response (YOR California) project is successfully advancing its efforts of providing outreach, engagement and direct services, including screening, assessment, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and other treatment and recovery services, to youth with, or at risk of, an opioid use disorder (OUD).

Over the past year, 22 YOR California implementation grantees have worked to remove barriers and fill gaps in services delivery for youth throughout California. To date, they have served nearly 6,000 youth with, or at risk of, an OUD or overdose death. Over 14,000 youth have been screened and 2,000 were provided early intervention and/or recovery services. Their projects spanned the continuum of prevention, intervention, MAT, and other treatment and recovery services, as well as focused on positive youth development, age-appropriate engagement, and implementation of evidence-based practices for youth. Waiver training was provided to over 180 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, including 25 pediatricians. Implementation grantees were also very responsive to California’s safer-at-home orders, creating innovative solutions to continue care through expanded telephone and telehealth services and other innovative technological and social media strategies to reach and provide services to youth and their families. Santa Clara County, for example, launched a “Fentanyl Takes Friends” campaign featuring iHeartMedia, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat messages to not only reach and educate youth and their families about fentanyl-laced OxyContin but ultimately, reduce or prevent overdose deaths among youth.

In addition, nine YOR California planning grantees worked to create their own community planning groups, conduct assessments, establish partnerships, and develop community action plans to reduce youth OUD and opioid-related deaths. They established 88 new partnerships with behavioral health and youth serving agencies, and new projects are underway as a direct result of planning grant funding and activities. For instance, Valley Health Associates developed and piloted a text messaging program to improve retention of youth clients, and BluePath Health (YOR Marin), due to its foundational YOR California work, has secured additional funding for their health development initiative, “Marin 9 to 25.”

Endeavors to expand or enhance access to services for youth and their families will continue for 2021-2022! It is anticipated that a Request for Applications (YOR California II) will be issued later this fall seeking grantees to improve and expand access to a continuum of opioid and stimulant use disorders  services for youth and their families. An announcement about the launch of the RFA will be disseminated, and the RFA will be posted on the YOR California website and at www.DHCS.ca.gov.

YOR California is a joint effort of California Institute of Behavioral Health Solutions and Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. funded by the California Department of Health Care Services, Community Services Division.