DHD in partnership with Malcolm X College to train health workers to fight opioid crisis

The Department of Disability and Human Development is part of a unique program to train community health workers to help fight the opioid crisis. 

In a partnership with City Colleges of Chicago’s Malcolm X College, Gateway Foundation, Inc. and the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, DHD will assist in implementing the MXC’s Community Health Worker Program. The program aims to train workers to provide care and services to children and families impacted by opioid and substance use disorders. 

Using a $2.1M grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the MXC launched the Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program, which seeks to bring care and relief to neighborhoods that are most affected by opioid use disorder in Chicago. 

The grant will pay for students’ tuition, fees and book costs, and will provide a stipend up to $7,500 for the two-phase training course. Phase one is a one-semester certificate program to become a community health worker. It includes five foundational courses with an emphasis on an opioid crisis support curriculum inclusive of an 80-hour field experience and a stipend. This phase can be taken in the fall or spring semester. Phase two is a yearlong paid apprenticeship and mentorship program with a part-time or full-time commitment. 

 “We are excited and eager to help make this program viable in Chicago particularly in communities that need support and resources and have critical workforce shortage challenges,” said Tamar Heller, director of the Institute on Disability and Human Development and DHD professor and head. “IDHD is leading the evaluation component of this work which will be critical to its future sustainability.” 

One key program goal is to identify students with a strong desire to pursue a career in public health and/or related healthcare fields who want to see Chicago communities thrive. With a focus on Chicago’s West Side, students will work with mentors and clinicians to connect people who are suffering from opioid use disorder and their families with essential resources and support to fight the opioid crisis in Chicago.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20 million people a year in the United States suffer from an opioid use disorder. In the year ending September 2020, there were more than 90,000 overdose related deaths in the U.S. — the biggest number ever in history. 

The program aims to train more than 150 students to become future community health workers who are uniquely qualified to serve people and communities impacted by opioid use disorder. The program initiated a soft launch in the spring semester 2021 with 20 students enrolled. 

 For more information about the program, visit ccc.edu/opioid.