Naloxone is used to reverse overdoses in people who have used opioids. Credit: Jeff Anderson/Flickr

CHICAGO — Chicagoans who want to help their neighborhood fight the opioid crisis can take part in a new City Colleges program.

People who participate in the program will be trained as community health workers to provide care to children and families who have been impacted by opioid and substance use disorders, according to a City Colleges news release. Researchers have said the opioid crisis has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, with overdose deaths soaring in some of Chicago’s most vulnerable communities.

To join, Chicagoans will become students at City Colleges of Chicago and sign up for Malcolm X College’s Community Health Worker program. Grants are available that will cover eligible people’s tuition, fees and book costs, as well as stipends up to $7,500 for the two-phase training course, according to City Colleges.

People who are interested in the program can learn more or fill out a form online for free.

Students will primarily focus on the West Side — which has been ravaged by the opioid crisis — and work with mentors and clinicians to connect people and their families to resources.

During phase one of the program, participants will go through a certificate program to become community health workers. They will take five “foundational courses with an emphasis on an opioid crisis support curriculum,” and they’ll get 80 hours of field experience with a stipend, according to City Colleges. This phase is available in the fall or spring.

During phase two, participants will spend a year doing a paid apprenticeship and mentorship program. They’ll have a part-time or full-time commitment, according to City Colleges.

In all, the program will take about 18 months.

City Colleges hopes to train at least 150 students to become community health workers who are qualified to help people with opioid use disorder.

More information is available online.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: Twitter @BauerJournalism