MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Morris County put wheels on its outreach services a few years ago, creating offices in vans with professional staff who set up shop in different communities each day.
Record numbers of people were reached in 2021, as many in need were linked to social services assistance through the Navigating Hope van, and people with substance abuse and mental health issues were contacted by the Hope One van.
In 2021, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office’s Hope One encountered a record breaking 9,603 contacts, a 30 percent increase from the 6,277 contacts in 2020. The staff also provided 1,904 life-saving Narcan kits and training to family and friends of people with substance abuse. The kits are used to revive people who overdose on opioids. To date, 86 people have used their Narcan kit to save a life — or try to save someone’s life. The goal is to prevent drug overdoses and deaths by offering mental health services.
In 2021, Navigating Hope completed 213 trips, made 6,739 contacts and registered 363 people as clients. That adds up to more than the number of trips they made in 2019 and 2020 combined, and more than 12 times the number of people they reached in their first year. Navigating Hope is a partnership between Morris County’s Department of Human Services and Family Promise of Morris County. The goal is not to wait for people in need to come to social services, but to instead bring social services into the community and find people in need.
Hope One, which involves staffing a mobile office with professionals who travel a county to find people with addiction and mental health issues, was a first-of-its-kind program launched by Morris County Sheriff James Gannon four years ago as the opioid crisis continued unabated. During speaking engagements, the Sheriff often notes that arresting people with opioid addiction is not the way to solve the opioid crisis. People need treatment and services to deal with other difficulties in their lives to deal with their addiction.
Similarly, Navigating Hope is a mobile outreach initiative launched in 2019 by the Morris County Department of Human Services and Family Promise of Morris County. It is staffed with social services experts who supply information, help residents connect with county services and apply for or complete benefit applications — on the spot.
Morris County Hope Hub is the newest innovation. Since its launch last March, the Sheriff’s Hope Hub collaboration program has taken on 147 complicated cases requiring the expertise and resources of multiple public service agencies to help vulnerable and at-risk people and families find the assistance they need. Launched in March 2021, this collaboration streamlines the process of providing essential services to people who come into contact with an agency and are deemed at risk of homelessness, poverty, addiction, abuse and many other problems. Hope Hub is made up of law enforcement, social services, mental health services, healthcare providers, treatment providers and recovery specialists who come into contact with vulnerable people and families, and who can tap the extensive resources of Hope Hub to bring aid to the individuals.
Currently, 22 law enforcement agencies including the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, participate in the PAARI program, the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. The program is designed to give people with substance abuse disorders a safe way to seek help for their addiction at a local police department. Any person who enters participating police departments and requests help with their substance use disorder will be screened by law enforcement and assisted by an Acenda Integrated Health certified Peer Recovery Specialist to obtain treatment and recovery services.