CENTER— Educators, health workers, law enforcement, social service representatives and other community members met at Center Schools Tuesday to help form a special Center coalition to implement The Communities That Care® (CTC), a program to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse and other harmful behaviors among youth.
Using bonding as a key tool to reduce problem behaviors in at-risk youth, CTC hopes to pull in community volunteers to implement what sponsors say is proven strategy to address youth problems. Saguache County Public Health is operating the program on a grant, which expires in 2019. CTC is funded with state revenues from marijuana sales.
Ani Rinchung is the CTC coordinator for Saguache County. Rinchung said she believes Center needs its own particular coalition to suit is unique community status in the county. Saguache County Public Health Director David Daboll told those attending the meeting that Rinchung has a plan for Center that will help cut through much of the red tape involved in forming a community branch of CTC.
The group needs more adult volunteers to help implement the plan in Center. Many in the community have expressed the desire to help children and adolescents in the town avoid the increased dangers of drug abuse. The Center CTC already has a youth group contingent of six or seven Center Schools students.
Towards the end of the meeting, Rinchung set the time and place of Center coalition meetings for every third Friday at 10:30 a.m. To volunteer call Rinchung at 719-655-2533, 719-221-3282, or email her at [email protected].
There are 47 CTC programs currently in place in Colorado. While the program is nationwide, the highest concentration of programs in place is found in Colorado and the Philadelphia, Penn. area.
The program is “data driven, evidence based and outcome focused,” according to CTC’s research arm, Social Development Research Group. The data is based on a group of eighth graders followed through high school and the impact the program had on their behavior. Studies conducted on students span a total of 35 years of research.
Programs to promote the healthy development of youth, and reduce teen health and behavior problems, have become more widespread during the past decade. But the problems of adolescent delinquency, violence, alcohol and other drug use, school dropout and pregnancy, still disrupt the lives, and threaten the futures, of too many young people.
A growing body of research in the field of prevention science now offers information on how to support healthy youth development and protect against problem behaviors in adolescence by reducing risk factors and enhancing protective factors in children’s lives. Researchers have developed and tested programs to address these risks and protective factors, identified those programs that have been shown to be effective, and have developed tools to help match tested, effective programs with a community’s unique profile of risk and protective factors.
The CTC system can help Saguache County communities use prevention science research to enhance how each community, school, family and youth group operate to prevent youth behavior problems and promote healthy development. It can also help direct money, efforts and energy efficiently and effectively, by using objective data to determine priorities, by implementing programs that have been shown to work, and by providing the tools to measure and track results.
Those participating in the program will track the results for inclusion in CTC research. Research statistics show that among those participating in the program, crime, also drug and alcohol abuse can be reduced by as much as a third.
The program’s approach is four-pronged:
Volunteers would fall into two categories: key leaders and a community board. Key leaders would meet quarterly and community board members meet twice a month.