The head of the Alaska Division of Behavioral Health said Monday the decision to eliminate a $100,000 grant that paid for the Alcohol Safety Action Program on the Kenai Peninsula may be reversed.
Director Bill Hogan said the rationale for the decision to cut ASAP grant funding in small rural communities was based on the fact that in those communities there was no need for an ASAP grantee to act as a liaison between the court and the provider of alcohol and drug abuse counseling services.
"In most rural areas and we are discovering Kenai is the exception generally there is the court and one ASAP provider. It seemed as though the provider could create a direct link to the court and that there wasn't a need for a liaison," Hogan said. "We've discovered there are at least seven ASAP providers on the peninsula. It was apparent we really do need something in place to coordinate so many referrals to so many providers."
Hogan said he is scheduled to meet with judges and other court, law enforcement and counseling providers Aug. 5 to discuss the issue.
He said the loss of the ASAP program on the peninsula was problematic and restoring the grant that paid for the program here is an option on the table.
"When we were considering cuts, we had to make them pretty quickly, and at least in communities with single providers, we didn't anticipate these kinds of problems," he said. "Things are different on the Kenai."
Through the ASAP program, an Anchorage company called Akeela Treatment Services had received the state grant to provide monitoring services on the Kenai Peninsula for the past four years. It ensured that people sentenced by the courts to participate in drug and alcohol treatment programs in fact adhered to those court orders.
But Gov. Frank Murkowski cut $355,000 in ASAP grants from the fiscal year 2004 budget, including the $100,000 to Akeela.
Within weeks of the closure of the Kenai ASAP office, counseling services began reporting a serious increase in the number of no-shows for counseling sessions among those convicted of driving while intoxicated and other alcohol- or drug-related misdemeanors.
As reported in Sunday's Peninsula Clarion, providers, as well as the magistrate of the Kenai District Court, said the loss of the monitoring program was a potential threat to public safety.
Hogan had been unavailable for comment for the Sunday story, but responded to phone messages Monday.
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