Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

a voluntary council of local governments
serving the missouri meramec area.

The Opioid Affected Youth Initiative (OAYI) is a three-year cooperative award through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The project was created to develop data-driven, coordinated responses to identify and address challenges, resulting from opioid misuse, that is impacting youth and community safety. To support states, local government, and/or tribal governments in implementing data-driven strategies and programs through strategic partnerships, the Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative will (1) develop a multidisciplinary task force to identify specific areas of concern; (2) collect and interpret data that will assist the task force in developing strategies and programming that will be used to better coordinate response efforts and resources; and (3) implement services that will address public safety concerns, intervention, prevention and diversion services for children, youth and families directly impacted by opioid misuse (https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/funding/awards/2019-yb-fx-k008).

The opioid epidemic in Missouri’s Meramec Region has grown significantly. At least five of the eight counties in the Meramec Region are listed as priority areas by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdoes/data/statedeaths.html) and are among the counties with the highest opioid-related deaths in the state (https://health.mo.gov/data/opioids/). In October 2019, OJJDP awarded the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) $992,757 to fulfill the Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative of developing data-driven, coordinated responses to identify and address challenges, resulting from opioid misuse, that impacts youth and community safety, in the Meramec Region.

2019-2022 Strategic Plan for Missouri’s Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative

Stories from Our Region – The Opioid Epidemic

For more opioid related videos created by MRPC, visit the MRPC Rural Opioid Initiatives playlist on Youtube.

Project Updates

The Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative consortium meetings are every second Thursday at 2:00 PM. 

Covid-19: To do our part in slowing the spread of Covid-19 in our communities, all consortium meetings will continue to be held virtually until further notice. Any Opioid Affected Youth Initiative (OAYI)-related projects facilitated directly by Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.  Any OAYI-related projects facilitated by MRPC partners will be encouraged to do the same.

December 2020 – January 2021

Meramec Region’s Progress and Performance Measures Reports were submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for the July 1 – December 31, 2020 reporting period. 

Report Highlights: 

  • Community Conversations on Stigma, Opioid Use, Misuse, and Recovery

The Crawford County Community Conversation was held in Cuba, Missouri on December 16, 2020. Sixteen individuals participated, including four high school students. The high school students led the narrative in front of law enforcement stakeholders, which included Sheriff (Crawford County) Darin Layman, Chief (Cuba Police Department) Doug Shelton, and Deputy (Cuba Police Department) Robert Yates. The conversation lasted an hour and consisted of testimonies of lived opioid misuse experiences. The tone of the conversation was truthful, yet hopeful. The law enforcement stakeholders were able to share their perspectives on the use of naloxone (Narcan) and the first response to overdoses and individuals with opioid and substance use disorders. 

About the program – Social stigma against opioid use disorder discourages both parents and children from reaching out for help, and may enhance or reinstate drug misuse, playing a key part in the vicious cycle that drives people to continue misusing opioids. In partnership with Invent Yourself, LLC, the project is designed to openly facilitate a dialogue, led by youth with an adult, community-stakeholder audience, on the topic of opioid use disorder with the intent and purpose of “de-stigmatizing” the topic. 

  • Too Good for Drugs

Too Good for Drugs is facilitated by Prevention Consultants of Missouri. The Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative funded the program in the Potosi 8th grade and Cuba 7th/8th grade classes during the Fall 2020 semester. An overall total of 204 students participated and increased their comprehension of the program curriculum with average “C” pretest scores to “A-“ posttest scores. 

About the program – Too Good for Drugs is an evidence-based opioid, opiate, marijuana, underage drinking, tobacco, and other substance use prevention curriculum for students. The curriculum has been recognize as a model program by both the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In partnership with Prevention Consultants of Missouri, the curriculum will be taught in Meramec Region school districts, in junior high and high school age groups.

  • Seeking Safety

Seeking Safety will begin implementation in the 25th Judicial Circuit and Children’s Division beginning February 2021.

About the program – Seeking Safety is an evidence-based, present-focused counseling model to help people attain safety from trauma and/or substance abuse. It is an extremely safe model as it directly addresses both trauma and substance use disorder, but without requiring participants to delve into past traumatic memories, thus making it relevant to a very broad range of individuals and easy to implement. The Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative plans to implement this program as a coordinated response to improve outcomes for youth and families involved in the child welfare and juvenile systems as a result of the opioid crisis.

  • OAYI Social Media Videos, “Stories From Our Region – The Opioid Epidemic”

The videos highlight personal testimonies with first-hand and lived experiences of the opioid epidemic. The purpose of these videos is to increase opioid-misuse awareness, reduce stigma around those negatively impacted by the opioids, and share perspectives from responders to the opioid crisis. Content from these videos are intended to be shared on MRPC’s Facebook page and The Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative’s website. 

Previous Project Updates

Consortium Members, Past Meeting Minutes & Agendas

The Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative Consortium

The Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative Meeting Minutes and Agendas

MRPC Project Staff

Project Coordinator – Jane Johannsen, jjohannsen@meramecregion.org, (573) 265-2993 ext. 149
Project Assistants – Christa Harmon and Rebecca Losing
Project Support Staff – Samantha Maddison and Mark Perkins
Executive Director – Bonnie Prigge
Planning Department Manager – Anne Freand
Fiscal Officer – Linda Loughridge
Communications/Marketing Coordinator – Caitlin Jones

Additional Community Resources