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Lupardo Seeks State Funding to Step Up In-school Drug Prevention

By Kerry Longobucco.
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D) is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) to fund the addition of substance abuse counselors in Broome County schools.

On Monday morning, Lupardo joined local providers to ask for funding to allow nearly each district in Broome County to have an addiction counselor on staff. The counselor would identify high-risk students from grades eight to twelve, and work with teens on prevention.

Ten schools in broome county previously offered such a service -- but six were forced to cut it from their budget, due to lack of funding. Officials say ten more schools in Broome are interested in adding or expanding such a program.

"We've had kids who have been really challenged in life," Jill Alford-Hammitt, Student Assistance Program (SAP) manager at Lourdes Youth Services, said. "And after connecting with the prevention counselor, at our schools, they've been able to move on and successfully graduate, when they may not have graduated before. They've been able to find housing, and get access to mental health services."

"I've always been interested in reaching kids. reaching young people, reaching their parents, to try to have this conversation," Lupardo said. "We have a great program already in place, and we'd like to expand it."

Officials say staffing a full time counselor would come at a cost of about $35,000 per district. The counselors would be provided by Lourdes.