RCORP 101: An Inside Look into the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP)

“New provisional data released by the federal government estimates that nearly 108,000 people died from drug overdoses from January to December, 2021”.

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The devastating toll of the overdose crisis within the United States has impacted all Americans, but most notably families who are learning to deal with grief and loss. Fortunately, organizations and communities are banding together to provide support and resources to combat the ongoing crisis. Federal funds have been allocated and distributed to communities nationwide, often in areas that have been hardest hit. One federal program with particularly noteworthy success is the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration.

Starting in 2018, HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) awarded grants to teams of healthcare and behavioral health professionals, public health researchers, faith-based organizations, indigenous leaders, and community organizations to fight the opioid epidemic using evidence-based, community-driven solutions.

The purpose of the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) initiative is to support treatment for and prevention of substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD), in high-risk rural counties, including the 220 counties identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being at risk for HIV and hepatitis C infections due to injection drug use. JBS International, with a 35+-year history of offering innovations and solutions to help federal, state, and community agencies and providers achieve their goals and objectives, was chosen as the  technical assistance provider for this project.  

JBS RCORP Team Expertise

JBS’s RCORP-TA team, led by Lisa Patton, JBS’s Vice President of External Partnership Collaboration and Growth, provides community-centric support to grantees, helping them harness their unique strengths to deliver and sustain outcomes. Finding solutions communities can embrace and implement effectively is a highly individualized process and we tailor evidence-based interventions and best practices to fit a community’s distinct needs.

“JBS is honored to partner with HRSA to expand the reach of opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery services to vulnerable rural communities,” says Lisa Patton. “Many of our staff reside in or hail from these communities themselves and we're highly invested in delivering the best information and resources available”.

In rapidly shifting environments, grantees need reliable, knowledgeable experts who are highly responsive to their needs. JBS maintains a deep bench of SMEs hailing from diverse backgrounds, possessing impressive work experience, and acting as living repositories of information, all of which they use to assist grantees in addressing BH needs in their communities. JBS, as the RCORP-TA provider, has responded to more than 9,000 TA requests during the life of the cooperative agreement. Our approach is built on the provision of developmentally staged, strengths-based TA guided by our nuanced understanding of grantee need, organizational capacity, available community resources, and unique context and culture of rural communities. Since 2018, JBS staff have successfully supported RCORP-TA grantees from all cohorts (Planning, Implementation, MAT, NAS, and Psychostimulant), currently providing TA to more than 350 rural communities in 47 states.

A detailed description of RCORP can be found below in the Federal Register:

Federal Register RCORP Description

RCORP is authorized by Section 711(b)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 912(b)(5)) and is a multi-initiative program that aims to: (1) Support treatment for and prevention of substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD); and (2) reduce morbidity and mortality associated with SUD, to include OUD, by improving access to and delivering prevention, treatment, and recovery support services to high-risk rural communities. To support this purpose, RCORP grant initiatives include:

  • RCORP-Implementation grants to fund established networks and consortia to deliver SUD/OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery activities in high-risk rural communities;
  • RCORP-Medication Assisted Treatment Expansion grants to enhance access to medication-assisted treatment within eligible hospitals, health clinics, or tribal organizations in high-risk rural communities;
  • RCORP-Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome grants to reduce the incidence and impact of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in rural communities by improving systems of care, family supports, and social determinants of health;
  • RCORP-Psychostimulant Support grants to strengthen and expand prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals in rural areas who misuse psychostimulants; to enhance their ability to access treatment and move towards recovery; and
  • Note that additional grant programs may be added pending Fiscal Year 2022 and future Fiscal Year appropriations.

Additionally, all RCORP grant award recipients are supported by eight cooperative agreements: RCORP-Technical Assistance, which provides extensive technical assistance to award recipients; RCORP-Evaluation, which evaluates the impact of the RCORP initiative on rural communities; three RCORP-Behavioral Health Care Workforce Centers, which provide workforce training and education initiatives in the region served by the Northern Border Regional Commission; and three RCORP-Centers of Excellence, which disseminate best practices related to the treatment for and prevention of substance use disorders within rural communities.