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Valpo Board of Works approves recovery care coordinator funding agreement

Valparaiso Now Facebook page

Plans for a community recovery care coordinator are moving forward in Valparaiso. The position would connect those with substance use disorder with treatment opportunities. The new coordinator would be employed by PACT, but would be funded by the city with its share of opioid settlement money.

The Valparaiso Board of Works last week unanimously approved a funding agreement with PACT, as well as the job description. City council member Peter Anderson said getting treatment can often be an overwhelming process for those with substance use disorder.

"What this care coordinator would do is, essentially, act as an 'easy button' for folks who are looking for treatment, and they would be able to take care of all those considerations and just make it considerably easier for folks to get into treatment and, thus, saving lives," Anderson told the board of works.

Anderson said the initial plan was for Porter County communities to pool their settlement money together and hire two county-wide care coordinators, along with multiple sheriff's department social workers. But they determined that it would be too hard to get all of the communities on board.

City Attorney Patrick Lyp stressed that the agreement would only be in place if the settlement money is available, and there's no long-term commitment. "This is not binding anybody to 17 years," Lyp explained. "Essentially, this is an initial distribution of $60,000."

The city is looking to supplement the settlement money with a state matching grant, and the new care coordinator would also be expected to look for grant opportunities. The proposal now goes back to the city council, to appropriate the funding.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.