Parents and other adults in the Roaring Fork Valley have been concerned for years about youth substance use and related problems. A few programs have offered treatment and counseling for youth already affected by substance use, depression, delinquency and violence. Other youth activity programs and school instruction have hoped to prevent issues before they emerged. Unfortunately, few of these were selected for their base of evidence for effectiveness or subsequently evaluated for their power to reduce problems before they occurred. We have all been working out of concern, hope, and good intentions. Communities That Care (CTC) provides a model of evidence-based, evaluated strategies that will prevent over time, for whole populations of young people, substance use and related problems before they occur.
Many CTC communities, across the country, have been part of a 25-year longitudinal study originating from the University of Washington. The scientists behind CTC are Dr. David Hawkins and Dr. Richard Catalano. Hawkins and Catalano are renowned for their decades of work about risk and protective factors. More on risk and protection later…
Now a Colorado Priority
Addressing underage marijuana use, alcohol use, and prescription drug abuse are priorities for multiple state departments in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has funded the CTC model in 50 communities. It empowers these communities to select, implement, and evaluate evidence-based prevention strategies to address youth substance abuse and related issues. Community Health Initiatives was awarded five years of grant funding to implement CTC in the Roaring Fork Valley.
In the Roaring Fork Valley, underage use of substances is unacceptably high. Risk rises dramatically during the transition years between elementary and middle school, middle to high school and the year following high school. Often related to their substance use is youth depression, delinquency, and violence. These problems are persisting even in the presence of all currently available programs and services. More can and should be done and action must be innovative if it is to reduce the number of youth whose lives are affected by these avoidable problems.
Multiple Assets for New Prevention
CDPHE has partnered with the University of Washington’s Center for Communities That Care and the University of Colorado. Locally, CTC will benefit directly from their prevention expertise, resources, hands-on support, as well as from the invaluable lessons developing in 48 other Colorado communities working on solutions for the same problems.
The CTC Prevention Science Model
Innovation is not doing more of what has been done, but more of what works, but hasn’t been tried.
CTC offers a five-phase model that if followed, step-by-step, uncovers root causes of youth behavior issues, links tested strategies that have an evidence base to reduce these causes, shows how to monitor the fidelity of action plans so they continue to be effective, and recommends methods for empirical evaluation of benefit and how to report results for sustainability. This is the science of prevention.
Progress with Prevention Science in the Roaring Fork Valley
Prevention innovation is not instant, nor is it simply consensus-building among concerned stakeholders. CTC is intentional and strategic. It uses a public health approach, collecting data and informed analyses, reviewing researched strategies related to local findings, locating community assets aligned with recommended strategies, assessing fidelity, evaluating, and improving strategies based on outcomes. CTC for the Roaring Fork Valley is currently in the data collection and asset assessment phases. In the fall of 2018, the projects will move into selection of evidence-based strategies that are proven to impact the risk and protective factors identified by the local Risk and Protective Factor (Data) Workgroups. All of this will culminate into action planning, scheduled for 2019.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
CTC is a community wide, upstream prevention effort using existing resources and filling in the gaps with evidence-based initiatives to promote healthy behaviors and prevent risk factors.
Where did CTC originate?
CTC is a community-driven process that focuses on the prevention of youth substance use, delinquency, and violence by identifying and implementing tested and effective programs and policies aimed at reducing locally identified risk factors and strengthening protective factors.
Who is organizing this effort? And Who is funding it?
CTC efforts in Colorado are being funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). In 2016, CDPHE adopted CTC as a statewide prevention planning model. CDPHE has covered grants to local public health agencies and regional non-profit organizations which identified reducing the burden of substance abuse in their communities as a priority area. There are a total of 50 communities in Colorado receiving CTC funding.
Community Health Initiatives (CHI) has received the grant to focus on youth substance use prevention in the Roaring Fork Valley, from Glenwood Springs to Basalt and in Pitkin County. This is a multi-year grant (2017-2021) funded by the State Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.
How It Works
Communities That Care guides communities through a proven five-phase change process. Using prevention science as its base, CTC promotes healthy youth development, improves youth outcomes, and reduces problem behaviors.
CTC helps communities prevent problems before they develop. Many see dramatic reductions in levels of youth alcohol & tobacco use and crime & violence. The CTC process begins by identifying a community’s risks and strengths. Based on data, CTC helps communities select and implement tested & effective prevention strategies and policies. CTC also helps amplify what’s already working.
5 Phases of CTC
Communities That Care is an ongoing process. When communities follow the phases below, their young people flourish.
1. Get Started
Communities get ready to introduce CTC. They work behind the scenes to:
Activate a small group of catalysts.
Assess how ready the community is to begin the process.
Identify key community leaders to champion the process.
Invite diverse stakeholders to get involved.
2. Get Organized
Communities form a board. After recruiting community board members, they:
Learn about prevention science.
Write a vision statement.
Develop a timeline for installing CTC.
3. Develop a Community Profile
Communities assess community risks and strengths—and identify existing resources. The community board and workgroups:
Review available data and collect new data.
Identify priority risk and protective factors that predict targeted health and behavior problems.
Assess community resources that address these factors.
Identify gaps (if any) to be filled in existing resources.
4. Create a Community Action Plan
The community board creates a plan for prevention work in their community, to:
Reduce widespread risks and strengthen protection.
Define clear, measurable outcomes using assessment data.
Select and expand tested and effective strategies and policies.
5. Implement & Evaluate
In this final phase, communities:
Implement selected strategies and policies.
Monitor and evaluate them.
Measure results and track progress to ensure improvements are achieved.