Family Service of Rhode Island, CODAC Partner to Serve Children Affected by Opioids

The federal Office for Victims of Crime has awarded Family Service of Rhode Island (FSRI) a $750,000 three year grant to serve children affected by their or their parents’ substance abuse. 

“Rhode Island is at the epicenter of the national opioid overdose epidemic,” said FSRI CEO Margaret Holland McDuff.  “Our strategy is to increase the state’s capacity to deal with opioid and other substance abuse through direct care, provider training and heightened awareness.” FSRI is a 126-year-old statewide comprehensive non-profit social service and educational agency based in Providence.

According to the most recent numbers (2016) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rhode Island’s rate of 26.7 deaths per 100,000 persons was more than twice the national rate.  

FSRI teamed with CODAC for the initiative, dubbed “Project Support Ocean State” or “SOS.” “The opioid epidemic is causing Rhode Island children and families to experience separation, loss and disruption.  We look forward to partnering with FSRI to address these and other related issues,” said CODAC president and CEO Linda Hurley.   

CODAC is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit outpatient provider of treatment for opioid disorders, with eight licensed facilities in Rhode Island, providing comprehensive behavioral health care.  

“When a parent suffers from addiction, children suffer too.  And too often, children become the silent victims of the opioid epidemic.  This federal grant will help Family Service of Rhode Island and CODAC extend their reach to help kids impacted by the opioid crisis,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who has helped appropriate $8.5 billion in this calendar year to help fight the opioid crisis.  “From counseling to mentoring and other supportive services, these federal funds will help children with a range of interrelated issues and needs.  I commend FSRI and CODAC for winning this federal grant to deliver specialized, coordinated services for children in need, and helping to stabilize families and build stronger communities.”   

SOS will treat youngsters, birth to age 18, when they or a caregiver are directly affected by a substance use disorder, defined by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as substance abuse causing health problems, disability or failure to meet work, school or home responsibilities.   

It will also serve children involved in, or at risk of being involved in, the state child welfare system due to abuse; those whose caregivers are incarcerated or involved with the criminal justice system; and those experiencing grief from loss associated with addiction.   “We congratulate Family Service of Rhode Island on their grant award,” said state Department of Children, Youth and Families’ director Trista Piccola. “We know there is great need across our state to continue to address the consequences of substance use disorders. I am hopeful that this work will expand on efforts associated with reducing stigma for families, which is something our department fully supports.”   

The project builds on FSRI’s award-winning partnerships with the State Police, the Providence Police and East Providence Police. “We have been working to expand to more police departments so more crime victims receive the care they need to avoid long-term trauma,” Holland McDuff noted, adding that she expected to be making an announcement related to this expansion in the near future.  Earlier this year, Mutual of America bestowed its Community Partnership Award on FSRI for this work, one of only 10 award recipients across the nation.    FSRI also co-leads the annual Rhode Island State Victim Assistance Academy and the Rhode Island Crime Victim Steering Committee.  Adding to this is FSRI’s depth of social services in a number of schools in Providence and Central Falls and CODAC’s delivering care within the state’s correctional system.   

Ms. Holland McDuff praised the state’s federal legislative delegation for ensuring federal dollars are available for such projects.   

FSRI’s application to the federal Office for Victims of Crime, a division of the US. Department of Justice, received written support from the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals, the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, Providence’s Commissioner of Public Safety Steven M. Paré, Providence’s police chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr., the Parent Support Network, Creating Outreach About Addiction Support Together (COAAST) and other organizations.

For more information about FSRI, visit; about CODAC