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The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), housed in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, has been awarded $1,025,250 as part of a larger grant to the Fletcher Group, Inc. (FGI) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Rural Opioid Response Program. This is a renewal of a $1,711,119 grant for KIPRC awarded in 2019. Over the next five years, KIPRC will build on previous efforts to prevent and treat substance use disorder (SUD) in rural communities throughout the U.S. 

As the Rural Center of Excellence in Recovery Housing for the past 3.5 years, FGI, in partnership with KIPRC, has expanded recovery housing and recovery support services, helping establish 25 new recovery housing facilities (262 beds) in rural communities. Over the next five years, FGI will focus on four projects that will benefit 11 states, 56 counties, and over 2 million residents.

This new grant will support continuing initiatives and provide opportunities to address specific needs, with a focus on recovery in the workplace. KIPRC will assist FGI with this new focus by enhancing employment and training opportunities for individuals in recovery within rural communities. KIPRC will collaborate with Chambers of Commerce, community colleges, and other entities to create a comprehensive toolkit with resources and guidelines to help employers and service providers create inclusive recovery ready workplaces. KIPRC also will work with recovery house operators to encourage and promote best practices in training and employing individuals in recovery. The initiative will include reaching out to employers to facilitate the creation of employment opportunities while assisting them in developing recovery-ready workplaces. KIPRC is committed to breaking down barriers and building a stronger, more inclusive workforce in rural areas.

KIPRC also will assist with the expansion of the peer recovery workforce in rural communities. KIPRC’s efforts will be focused on streamlining the peer support specialist recruitment process. Peer support specialists (PSSs) have "lived experience" and have been trained to support those who struggle with mental health, psychological trauma, or substance use. PSSs play an essential role to those in recovery from SUD by promoting resilience, autonomy, and responsibility while also addressing the chronic nature of SUD and social and economic determinants individuals face. The recruitment process will include assessing training quality for PSSs and researching content and methods of peer support training from state and national organizations. Lastly, KIPRC will connect employers with newly trained PSSs to ensure lasting support for individuals in recovery. KIPRC's partnership with FGI and the organization’s commitment to strengthening the role of PSSs highlights its dedication to providing comprehensive support and addressing the persistent challenges of substance use disorder in rural communities.

“KIPRC is excited to continue our partnership with FGI through this grant, which offers hope for rural communities," stated Terry Bunn, PhD, Director of KIPRC. “Together, we're not just building recovery housing and support services, but forging a path toward a stronger, more inclusive workforce. With a focus on creating recovery ready workplaces, empowering individuals in recovery, and expanding the peer recovery workforce, we are committed to breaking barriers and fostering a brighter future in rural America.”

More information about the Fletcher Group Inc. can be found here.

This program is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,025,250 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

KIPRC is a unique partnership between the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health. KIPRC serves both as an academic injury prevention research center and as a bona fide agent of DPH for statewide injury prevention and control.