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. 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.

September 2021

  • Seeking Safety

Seeking Safety begun implementation on March 17, 2021. Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative project staff Rebecca Losing, Christa Harmon, and Mark Perkins facilitate the program. The program serves youth and families who have been affected by opioid/substance misuse or are at-risk for opioid/substance misuse. The project’s partners include the 25th Circuit Children’s Division and Intensive Case Monitoring program, Osage County Anti-Drug Community Action Team, and the Rolla Public Library.

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.

For more information about the program, contact Rebecca Losing at rlosing@meramecregion.org or (573) 265-2993, extension 127. 

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

Three Community Conversations have been conducted in Cuba (Crawford), St. James (Phelps), and Linn (Osage), Missouri. The Pulaski County Conversation is scheduled for October 2021.

Links to view the Conversations:

Cuba, Crawford County, Missouri Community Conversation
St. James, Phelps County, Missouri Community Conversation
Linn, Osage County, Missouri Community Conversation

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. 

For more information about the program, contact Dr. Sean Siebert at sean@ruralmo.com.

  • Too Good for Drugs

Too Good for Drugs is facilitated by Prevention Consultants of Missouri and to date has served 813 students across the Meramec Region.

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 recognized 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.

For more information about the program, contact Jamie Myers at jamie@preventionconsultants.org

  • Opioid and Substance Use Awareness Walks and events

On March 5, the programs commemorated the region’s lives lost to the opioid epidemic. Two awareness tables were hosted at Peoples Bank, Cuba and Stonehenge, Missouri S &T, Rolla, and the project staff installed a temporary public memorial in front of the MRPC building facing I-44. The Phelps County Focus wrote an article about the event.

From May to August 2021, the programs with partnership from the Mid-MO Addiction Awareness Group hosted Awareness Walks in each of the eight counties: 

May 22 – Owensville

June 19 – Linn

June 26 – Belle

July 10 – Waynesville

July 24 – St. James

August 7 – Salem

August 21 – Steelville

August 28 – Potosi

The purpose of the Awareness Walks is to provide Opioid Use Disorder education, increase awareness and identify prevention strategies in the Meramec Region. 

For more information about the Awareness Walks and events, contact Christa Harmon at charmon@meramecregion.org

  • Family Assistance Backpack Program

In August, the Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative delivered 362 backpacks to 11 Head Start programs in the eight-county Meramec Region as part of the Family Assistance Backpack Program.

The purpose of this program is to support the needs of young children from low-income households and who are involved in the child welfare system, by providing necessities and resource information for students enrolled in the Meramec Region’s Head Starts for the 2021-2022 school year. The backpacks included basic hygiene and clothing necessities, regional opioid/substance misuse resource information, and additional Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative project information.

For more information about the program, contact Jane Johannsen at jjohannsen@meramecregion.org

To stay up-to-date on all of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s projects, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/meramecregion/. 

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

Planning Department Manager – Anne Freand
Project Assistants -Rebecca Losing
Project Support Staff – Samantha Sherman and Mark Perkins
Executive Director – Bonnie Prigge
Fiscal Officer – Linda Loughridge
Communications/Marketing Coordinator – Caitlin Jones

Additional Community Resources

Check out our interactive resource map here.