Funded Programs Evaluation Reports

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) allocates Illinois Department of Human Services funding to initiate or expand programs that address the negative impacts of substance misuse and mental illness. The funded programs are intended to ameliorate a broad range of social and public health concerns that arose as inadvertent consequences (e.g., poverty, community and family disruptions, violence and trauma exposure, and homelessness) of the decades-long war on drugs, which treated substance misuse (and often mental illness) as a criminal justice rather than a public health issue.

Along with funding for new or expanded programming, CRTA also provides monies for evaluating the public health impacts of each program. To carry out the evaluations, a collaboration of investigators was assembled, composed of the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work faculty and doctoral research assistants, investigators at the University of Chicago and Wayne State University, and a support team provided by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. For each CRTA-funded program, members of the evaluation collaborative were invited to select which CRTA-funded program or programs they would like to evaluate. The selecting investigator(s) was then designated as the Co-I(s) responsible for developing an evaluation plan and overseeing the implementation of the evaluation, including data collection, conducting data analysis, and developing quarterly and summary annual reports of the findings.The NORC team supports methodological design, data collection, and analysis. The projects that have been funded include:

  • Crisis Services: 988 and 590
  • Workforce: Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) Success Program
  • Medication Assisted Recovery (MAR) Prescriber Support Program
  • Mobile Treatment Units
  • Naloxone Distribution
  • Permanent Supportive Housing
  • Racial Equity Training
  • Cannabis Education and Prevention

Crisis Services: 988 and 590

The Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) and Division of Mental Health (DMH) has expanded its crisis services continuum, the Crisis Lifeline, the three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and mobile crisis response teams, providing community response to Crisis Lifeline calls. Co-investigators Dr. Amy Watson, Wayne State University, Dr. Harold Pollack, University of Chicago, and Dr. Katherine Bocanegra, University of Illinoi Chicago are leading the evaluation of the crisis services. Current evaluation highlights include:

  • From June-July 2022, the in-state answer rate increased from eighteen to eighty-one percent.
  • Most (over 96%) calls to the 988 centers are resolved on the phone. However, a small percentage require an in-person response, either in the form of an emergency rescue by law enforcement/ emergency medical services of someone attempting suicide or a mobile crisis team response.

Workforce: Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) Success Program

The Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) Success program provides grant funding to 11 post-secondary institutions in Illinois to offer CRSS training and to support students with lived experience of mental health or substance use recovery to complete all requirements to obtain the CRSS or Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) credential. The grant covers student tuition and stipends and provides funds to address barriers to student participation (e.g., technology needs, transportation, childcare) and to cover the costs of taking the credentialing exam. Co-investigators, Dr. Amy Watson, Wayne State University and Dr. Branden McLeod, University of Illinois Chicago, are leading the CRSS success program evaluation. Current evaluation highlights include:

  • In the first six months of fiscal year 2023, 248 students enrolled in the CRSS Success. The total number enrolled as of the spring semester surpasses 400 students, as only two schools included 2023 enrollees when they submitted fall term data program.
  • Over half of the students are interested in working with people with either mental health or substance use disorders.

Medication Assisted Recovery (MAR) Prescriber Support Program

Since the fiscal year 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) has funded the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine (SoM), Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development (CRHSSD) to implement MAR prescriber training. This program focuses on enrolling new providers and healthcare organizations interested in MAR prescribing, MAR prescriber training, and stipend payments. Dr. Sara Beeler, University of Illinois Chicago, was the co-investigator for this evaluation. Though the evaluation ended after fiscal year 2023, evaluation highlights include:

  • In fiscal year 2022, twenty-seven prescribers applied for the MAR prescriber training, with a total of twenty-two applicants completing the training upon which they received a stipend.
  • In fiscal year 2023, a total of 6 prescribers received a stipend for beginning to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD). Of the first-time prescribers, 50% (n=3) served more than one county in their practice. A total of 19 prescribers received a stipend for implementing MAR services and continued to prescribe buprenorphine for OUD. Thirty-eight percent (n= 3) served more than one county in their practice, primarily in rural areas.

Mobile Treatment Units

For over thirty years, the Community Outreach Intervention Project (COIP) at UIC’s School of Public Health has worked with Chicago-based communities, particularly on the West and South Sides, to offer harm reduction services (e.g., syringe/needle exchange, naloxone distribution, testing for HIV/HCV, recovery support, and referrals). Funding was approved to expand its services to include a mobile outreach unit to support the expansion of low-threshold buprenorphine. Dr. Sara Beeler, University of Illinois Chicago, is the co-investigator for this evaluation. Evaluation highlights include:

  • During fiscal year 2021, 610 individuals totaling 1,163 encounters sought harm reduction services and were screened for MOUD on the van. Two hundred-five patients received MOUD services on the van with roughly 36% (n=74) having at least one follow-up visit after their MOUD induction.
  • This number served increased in fiscal year 2022, with 794 unduplicated clients seeking care at the van, totaling 1,750 encounters. In fiscal year 2022, the number of patients seeking MOUD on the mobile health van continued to grow, with 433 patients seeking treatment.

Naxolone Distribution

The Naloxone Distribution Program (Access Narcan) was created in response to the increasing number of overdose deaths in Illinois. The Access Narcan project removes a barrier for organizations, hospitals, and clinics to order and distribute Narcan nasal spray, a nasal medication that has proven to be a safe and effective option for opioid overdose reversal. Community organizations, healthcare clinics, and/ or hospitals can order Narcan at no cost via a state-run ordering link, which comes with the requirement to report on the use/ administration of any Narcan acquired from Access Narcan. Dr. Sara Beeler, University of Illinois Chicago, is the co-investigator for this evaluation. Evaluation highlights include:

  • There were five hundred and fifty-four Narcan orders in the fiscal year 2022. A total of 4,788 cases were ordered and shipped with 57,456 cartons delivered.
  • Total orders increased in the second year of the project (fiscal year 2023) with 1,182 Narcan orders placed throughout Illinois. A total of 22,615 cases were ordered and shipped with 271,380 Narcan cartons delivered.
  • Two hundred and fifty-five overdose reversals/naloxone administrations were documented in fiscal year 2022 under Access Narcan with 512 total reversals being reported in fiscal year 2023.

Permanent Supportive Housing

The Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR)'s Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)/Housing First approach seeks to provide permanent supportive housing to individuals who have behavioral health challenges (e.g., mental health, substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorders) and are at risk of homelessness due to the inability to work or maintain a steady income. Six community-based provider organizations have received funding from SUPR to implement PSH. The goal is for each agency to provide 30 housing units for individuals and households or collectively 180 PSH units by the end of fiscal year 2023. Co-investigators, Dr. Branden McLeod, University of Illinois Chicago, Dr. Amy Watson, Wayne State University, and Dr. Aaron Gottlieb, University of Chicago, are leading the PSH evaluation. As of January 2024, Dr. Andrew Foell, University of Illinois Chicago, has joined the evaluation team and will be replacing Dr. McLeod and Dr. Gottlieb on the project. Evaluation highlights include:

  • Across all providers, 435 people have been assisted (including people housed or awaiting housing) and 276 have been housed.
  • Five of the six providers (83.3%) meet or exceed the 30 people housed end of the fiscal year target.
  • On average, 3 (mean = 2.94; std. dev. = 1.58) new people were placed in housing each month across agencies from May 2022 through May 2023.

Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program:

The R3 program was established as a part Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act that legalized adult-use cannabis in Illinois. R3 funding, which is derived from tax revenues from the sales of adult-use recreational cannabis, is designated to support and provide resources to community areas that have been impacted by economic disinvestment, violence, and historical overuse of the criminal justice system. The R3 program aims to protect communities impacted by gun violence, reduce gun violence and poverty, and increase employment infrastructure and capacity building related to the social determinants of health. The R3 legislation identified the following areas of service delivery: Civil Legal Aid, Economic Development, Reentry, Violence Prevention, and Youth Development. The CRTA is evaluating some of the programs that are providing services in R3 areas and this map depicts those programs:

Fetching Map...

Racial Equity Training

The purpose of this evaluation was to assess the efficacy of the racial equity training that was provided to Illinois Department of Human Services leadership team staff in June of 2022. This training had a number of aims; to help staff become more comfortable discussing issues around racial equity; to help staff develop a greater understanding of racism, implicit bias, microaggressions, and covering; to provide staff with more tools to develop a change initiative. Co-investigators, Dr. Aaron Gottlieb, University of Chicago, and Dr Branden McLeod, University of Illinois Chicago, leaded the racial equity training, which has since ended. Evaluation highlights include:

  • Participants generally agreed that the training helped them become more comfortable discussing issues around racial equity.
  • Participants generally agreed that the training helped staff develop a greater understanding of racism, implicit bias, microaggressions, and covering.
  • Participants reported being likely to engage in specific activities to advance racial equity.
  • Most participants found the training useful for designing change initiatives, this is the area where the training may have the most room for growth.

Cannabis Education and Prevention

This is a public awareness and education campaign ("Let's Talk Cannabis" and "Unfaded"). The campaign targets include (1) people 21 and over who use or are thinking of using cannabis, (2) pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, (3) under 21, (4) parents of teens. Prevention First is implementing these with the help of Rescue. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) is leading this evaluation. Evaluation outcomes will be provided at the end of fiscal year 2024.

Annual Progress Report 2023
Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act-Funded Program Evaluations

Download Download Arrow