July 19, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Deputy Chief of Communications
501-683-5286 desk or 501-350-5380 mobile
DHS Moves Toward More Strategic Approach to Address Drug abuse, Prevention
Continued agency re-organization comes as new State Drug Director takes the reigns In an effort to address substance abuse and addiction statewide, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is shifting resources including behavioral health services staff and about $24 million in drug abuse prevention and treatment grants under the direction of the State Drug Director, agency Director Cindy Gillespie announced Wednesday.
Last week Governor Asa Hutchinson named Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane State Drug Director. He has been Benton police chief since 2009 and was with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years. He will assume his duties Aug. 7.
“When Chief Lane and I met, one of the first things he said to me is that we as a state need to do more education and prevention work related to drug abuse and addiction, and I couldn’t agree more,” Gillespie said. “That’s why we will be giving him more tools to address these issues and will be elevating the position to a member of my executive team. That will allow him to help shape not only the state's approach to this problem but also how this agency addresses substance abuse among the families and teens we serve.”
For more than a year, DHS has been restructuring the agency to better use resources, eliminate duplicative work and find efficiencies. In the past, individual divisions and agencies managed many of the drug prevention and treatment programs, and therefore efforts were more fractured. Lane and his team will build a broad new strategy of addressing drug abuse prevention and treatment that will encompass several DHS programs, including Medicaid, child welfare, and youth services, as well as partner state agencies and organizations. The state drug director and his team fall within the Division of Behavior Health Services (DBHS).
“Our agency has worked with mental health professionals, law enforcement, treatment centers and other stakeholders for years,” said DBHS Director Jay Hill, “and we have great confidence in Kirk to make those efforts more cohesive as we educate the public about prevention, signs of abuse and intervention while treating those who suffer from addiction to reduce the number of families impacted by substance abuse.”