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Kids Escaping Drugs continues mission during COVID pandemic

Kids Escaping Drugs has helped families across the state by adapting and using technology to reach more people.

WEST SENECA, N.Y. — For the past 15 months, Kids Escaping Drugs has adapted and made changes to the ways it helps young people in Western New York who are struggling with addiction.

Every day during the pandemic, Kids Escaping Drugs has been there for kids and young adults ages 12 to 24 who are in need of addiction treatment.

"We were never interrupted in terms of providing the service to the kids that we had on the campus, and if anything, we've grown our program. We've added levels of care. We've added mental health components to help the kids that we see now, and the kids we anticipate seeing," according to Jodie Altman of Kids Escaping Drugs.

RELATED: Kids Escaping Drugs makes changes during pandemic

As soon as the pandemic hit, the state closed KED to admissions, so they got creative and adapted by offering more services online.

"Not being able to do our community outreach and education programs in-person was definitely difficult, but we had already been planning on going virtual with our programming. We had applied for a grant. We had already purchased all of the equipment, so we were able to pivot very quickly and not miss a beat," KED's Suzanne D'Amico said.

In a normal school year, they would reach kids at school. This year, they did a lot of on-demand programming so they didn't interfere with real time online learning. They did the same thing for learning opportunities for parents.

Going forward, they say the community may end up needing more help from KED.

"We don't know the extent of the damage that's been done emotionally to the kids, and to these families, from COVID and from basically a year-plus of isolation, and I don't think we're going to know a lot until these kids go back to school in the fall," Altman said.

And throughout the pandemic, the community has been there for KED. 

"I can remember days when they were delivering food, and we were just in tears. People, you know, had their own things going on, but thought enough to want to help the kids, and I think it's just the typical City of Good Neighbors. I think it's the typical community that supports Kids Escaping Drugs and the Renaissance Campus, and a global pandemic didn't stop that," Altman said.

Kids Escaping Drugs offers many drug treatment and prevention programs to people ages 12 to 24 and their families.