The Coalition was first formed over twenty years ago due to concerned citizens in town who wanted to protect the youth from risky behavior. The Coalition was restructured in 2010 due to community substance abuse problems and has met monthly since then to reduce and prevent substance use among youth.
A Coalition is a collaboration between groups or sectors of a community in which the group retains its identity, but all agree to work together toward a common goal of building a safe, healthy drug free community. Coalitions should incorporate evidence based approaches when developing initiatives. These strategies should focus on the following approaches for community change: provide information; enhance skills; provide support; enhance access/reduce barriers; provide support; enhance/reduce barriers; change consequences; change physical design; and modify/change policies.
Coalitions should be representative of the community and should consist of members from various sectors: youth; parents; businesses; media; schools; youth serving organizations; law enforcement; religious organizations; and fraternal organizations; civic and volunteer groups; healthcare professionals; state or local government; and other organizations involved in reducing substance abuse.
CASA and the Drug Free Communities Support Program
CASA was awarded the Drug Free Communities grant program in September 2015. The Coalition will receive $125,000 each year until September 2020. The Coalition is fully funded by the grant, and the Wolcott Board of Education serves as the fiscal agent of the grant.
The Drug Free Communities program is a collaborative initiative sponsored by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The DFC program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate citizen participation in local drug prevention efforts. Coalitions are comprised of community leaders from 12 sectors: youth, parents, businesses, media, schools, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, religious or fraternal organizations, civic and volunteer groups, healthcare professionals, government and other organizations involved in reducing substance abuse.
The DFC program was created by the Drug Free Communities Act of 1997, and was reauthorized by Congress in 2001 and 2006. Since 1998, ONDCP has awarded approximately 1,500 DFC grants to local communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Palau, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
DFC grantees are required to work toward these two goals as the primary focus of their federally funded effort.
- Establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, private nonprofit agencies, and Federal, State, local, and tribal governments to support the efforts of community Coalitions to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth.
- Reduce substance abuse among youth and, over time, among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increase the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse. (Substances include, but are not limited to, narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis, inhalants, alcohol, and tobacco, where their use is prohibited by Federal, State, or local law.)
Goals of the Coalition
- Strengthen the Citizen's Against Substance Abuse of Wolcott (CASA) by increasing community collaborations and the involvement of community organizations, community groups and individuals in Coalition initiatives and activities.
- Reduce use of alcohol and marijuana among adolescence through education, enforcement and other environmental strategies that will increase youth's developmental assets.
- Engage the community to prevent and reduce substance abuse in Wolcott, while also helping to build the 40 Developmental Assets.
- Build core competencies, enhance community bonds and promote healthy activities in the community.
Objectives of the Coalition
- Expand the capacity of CASA Wolcott by recruiting 4 new individual members and developing 12 community partners/organizations, one from each community sector, focused on youth substance abuse and developmental asset building as measured by member lists by September of 2016.
- Enhance the sustainability of the Coalition by developing 4 new CASA leaders through targeted recruiting to our Executive Committee as measured by Committee member roster by September of 2016.
- Increase by 10% from baseline the percentage of Wolcott 7-12 graders who report moderate or great risk if they take five or more drinks of an alcoholic beverage once or twice a week as measured by youth surveys by November 2017.
- Decrease by 8% from baseline the percentage of Wolcott 7-12 graders who report getting alcohol from home or at parties as measured by student surveys by November 2017.
- Increase by 5% from baseline the percentage of Wolcott 7-12 graders who report moderate or great risk if they smoke marijuana once or twice a week as measured by student surveys by November 2017.
Substance abuse prevention is an ever-evolving public health concern. In short, it is about preventing children and teenagers from ever experimenting with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Research shows that preventing youth from drug and alcohol use during their teenage years significantly reduces their risk of developing chemical dependency as adults.
Alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention is an ongoing process with each new generation of parents, children, educators and community leaders. Effective prevention helps reduce violence, teen pregnancy, high school dropout rates, HIV/AIDS infection and countless other issues.
By maintaining public awareness of the truth and dangers of drugs, prevention has a positive effect on children, teens, families, schools, businesses and communities. The CASA strives to carry out substance abuse prevention efforts in Wolcott and to empower community members to recognize the worth of constant and continued prevention.
Standards of Operation
CASA follows the guidelines of the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF). Developed by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the SPF is a five step model intended to aid community Coalitions in developing an infrastructure which can act to effectively reduce alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use through primarily evidence-based, environmental strategies.
The five steps include:1
- Assessment: Collect data to define problems, resources, and readiness within a geographic area to address needs and gaps.
- Capacity: Mobilize and/or build capacity within a geographic area to address needs.
- Planning: Develop a comprehensive strategic plan that includes policies, programs, and practices creating a logical, data-driven plan to address problems identified in Step 1.
- Implementation: Implement evidence-based prevention programs, policies, and practices.
- Evaluation: Measure the impact of the SPF and the implemented programs, policies, and practices.
These steps are intended to support one another and are conducted regularly and often concurrently.Central to all elements (as shown in the above graphic) is an emphasis on sustainability and cultural competence, without which a coalition's success will likely be short-lived.