The Community Opportunity, Network, Navigation, Exploration, and Connection Team

The Community Opportunity, Network, Navigation, Exploration, and Connection Team (CONNECT) program is the first 24/7 opioid overdose rapid response team, to respond to fatal and non-fatal overdoses and those at high risk of overdoses, including their children, in our rural 30-town region. CONNECT also provides Naloxone to law enforcement and first responders and utilizes Critical Incident Management System (CIMS), allowing CONNECT to collect real-time opioid overdose data for analysis and dissemination for the first time in our rural service area. It spans all 26 municipalities in Franklin County and 4 municipalities in Worcester County.

Population Focus
CONNECT serves the estimated 10% or nearly 9,000 individuals, children, and families impacted by substance misuse in the 30 towns that comprise the Franklin County/North Quabbin region of Massachusetts, located in the rural, northwestern area of the state. This “Northwest Tier” covers nearly 1,000 square miles, representing 9.4 percent of the Commonwealth, has a population of 87,130, and is comprised of the 26 towns of Franklin County (pop. 71,372), and the four Worcester County towns of Athol, Phillipston, Royalston, and Petersham (combined pop. 15,758). The four communities of Greenfield, Montague, Athol, and Orange act as anchors for this rural service area. Franklin County has a low population density of 102 people per square mile, compared to the state average of 835, and is the only federally-designated rural county in Massachusetts, making it more difficult to have readily available substance abuse treatment, emergency services, public transportation, childcare, health, and mental health care services .

The Children’s Advocacy Center employs an LICSW Clinican, who will serve as an embedded member of the CONNECT Project Team. Our CONNECT Clinician will function as a bridge to services for identified or self-identified children and youth who have witnessed a drug overdose. The therapeutic services offered by the CONNECT Clinician include evidence-based therapy that can be individual for the child, family, and caregiver consultation and support. This is not a mandated service and is child-centered and client led. Children and families can engage for a few sessions, or longer term in which the CONNECT Clinician will assist the family with referrals for other services as needed.

For more information please contact Jeff Trant, PhD, Executive Director at (413) 768-4115, or Lynn Blanchard, CONNECT Clinician at (413) 772-9069.