RAPID CITY – On the heels of a historic visit from Health and Human Services and Indian Health Service leadership, the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board has been awarded three grants totaling $5.175 million.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Biden White House announced approximately $250 million in federal grants to help improve health outcomes nationwide. The Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board is one of many tribally managed organizations to receive much-needed public health funding.
The funding will help prevent youth opioid overdoses, increase access for tribal citizens to anti-suicide resources, and continue the organization's efforts to develop and implement culturally grounded, evidence-based home visiting programs in the Great Plains region.
The first of the three grants awarded to the Health Board for $1.35 million over three years is intended to help prevent youth opioid overdoses. The grant will fall under the direction of the organization's Community Behavior Health Program, directed by Tosa Two Heart.
"Our organization recognizes opioid misuse as one of the many public health issues facing our Native American community. This funding will be utilized to help our people gain access to the resources they need to keep their homes and community safe from opioid abuse," said Two Heart.
Opioid overdoses significantly impact the Black Hills area. Between January 1st, 2020, and December 31st, 2022, Pennington County had 254 overdoses encompassing all ages. Twelve of those overdoses were fatal.
The Health Board will increase youth access to treatment and recovery, public and youth education, awareness, and training relating to opioids, according to Two Heart.
The second grant the Health Board received is worth $3 million over three years and will combat suicide in Native American communities by expanding the impact of 988 crisis center support through the existing 988 Lifeline Center in South Dakota.
"September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This month, we are reminded that suicide is preventable, and no one should go through a suicide-related crisis alone," said HHS (HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES) Secretary Xavier Becerra in a release from HHS. "The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply committed to tackling the mental health challenges facing America, and particularly focused on addressing the alarming rates of suicide," he added.
HHS Secretary Becerra and Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm visited the Health Board and the Oyate Health Center in Rapid City last month. During the visit, they both committed to continue investing in Indian Country.
"Our country is facing an unprecedented behavioral health crisis impacting people of all ages," said Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm in a release announcing the funding awards. "The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting those who are struggling, their families, and everyone impacted by suicide. We have invested in 988, community- and school-based care, expanding our health workforce, and other critical supports. We will continue as long as needed."
Under the direction of the Health Board's Community Behavior Health Department, the funding will be used to ensure American Indians/Alaska Natives access culturally competent, trained 988 crisis center support, improve integration and support between 988 crisis centers, Tribal nations, and Tribal organizations to ensure navigation and follow-up care, and to facilitate collaborations with Tribal, state, territory health providers, Urban Indian Organizations, law enforcement, and other first responders in a manner that respects Tribal sovereignty.
The third grant awarded to the Health Board will fall under its Maternal Child Health Department and is worth $825k. The funding is part of the Tribal MIECHV program and the broader MIECHV program. This initiative supports states, territories, and tribal entities to implement evidence-based home visiting models to support expectant families and families with children from birth to kindergarten entry.
"The Health Board's commitment to improving health outcomes for our mothers and children is one of our highest priorities," said Chelsea Randall, director of Maternal Child Health for GPTLHB (Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board). “We are excited for the opportunity to do our part to improve health outcomes in our communities,” she added.
According to Terri Rattler, program manager, the funding will be used to conduct a Community Needs and Readiness Assessment to implement a home visiting program in Rapid City. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is a sub-awardee and will also follow the same process.
"HHS is committed to the health and well-being of all American Indian and Alaska Native families and communities. These awards ensure that expectant families, and families with young children, will have access to home visiting services and high-quality care," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "HHS will continue to do whatever we can to make it easier for states, territories, and tribal entities to help meet the growing demand for culturally grounded, evidence-based home visiting programs,” the Secretary added in a release from his office.
The Tribal MIECHV program is part of the broader MIECHV program. This initiative supports states, territories, and tribal entities to implement evidence-based home visiting models to support expectant families and families with children from birth to kindergarten entry.
President Biden signed legislation that increased funding for Tribal MIECHV from $12 million in FY (Fiscal Year) 2022 to $30 million in FY 2023. This major expansion of the Tribal MIECHV program is an opportunity to bring evidence-based home visiting services to more tribal communities, said the White House in a release.