NEKY Coalition
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First Day Forward is a jail reentry program established through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, Implementation II grant and continued through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, Implementation III grant.

We are currently targeting four northeastern Kentucky counties: Clark began in September 2020, Mason and Montgomery began in September 2021, and Powell will be added in September 2022.

Initially, peer support specialists will screen candidates for program criteria, such as anticipated discharge to one of the targeted project counties, self-identified substance use disorder, and their willingness to participate in the program. If a candidate meets criteria and is accepted into the program, the peer support specialists will immediately begin providing cognitive life skills education and working with the individual on their personalized pre-release and post-release case plans. Within the pre-release plan, the peer will set individualized goals with the participant based on their specific needs. Other things the peer can help with are: expungement information, social security card applications, birth certificate requisition form, application for medical card, naloxone training, local resource guides, employment opportunities, treatment options, and so forth. Ideally, peer support specialists would begin meeting with inmates one to three months prior to their release.

Following release, the individual’s post-release case plan will begin. The peer support specialist can provide a safe ride from the facility to the participant’s discharge address (or to treatment), as well as making sure the individual’s basic needs are met. The peer support specialist will connect the individual to community resources, such as housing, employment opportunities, self-help meetings, opioid use disorder treatment if desired, primary care, case management, etc., and is available to attend doctors’ visits, NA/AA meetings, appointments to apply for Medicaid, an ID card, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, etc. For the first 30 days post-release, the participant will have weekly face-to-face contact with the peer support specialist. Days 31 through 60 post-release, the participant will have biweekly face-to-face contact with the peer support specialist. Days 61-120, the participant will have monthly phone calls with the peer support specialist (these will then continue for the duration of the grant project).

The participants will be tracked for the duration of the three-year project and data will be collected to assess recidivism, employment rates, housing linkages, etc., for us to determine if First Day Forward was/is “successful.” Our hope is to have successful First Day Forward program to expand into surrounding counties within the northeastern Kentucky region. As a part of RCORP-Planning III project, we assessed the potential replication of FDF in additional counties within our service region and hope to use that data, going forward, to make that expansion a reality.

We know the impact of First Day Forward could have a massive positive impact for our communities. But if this program can provide even one person suffering from substance use disorder a true “First Day Forward,” it will all have been worth it.

To learn more about the First Day Forward program, please contact us. To read success stories from our participants, click here.

To learn more about FDF, watch this video. This video was produced by the UR Medicine Recovery Center of Excellence, University of Rochester Medical Center and the Northeast Kentucky Substance Use Response Coalition. For more on this topic from the UR Medicine Recovery Center of Excellence, click here!