CENTER—What is the Communities That Care (CTC) Program? CTC is an evidence-based program that has created real change in communities across the United States.
What makes CTC unique is, it is entirely community lead. It will change the local community and the local kids by preventing problems one kid at a time. And prevention has been proven to be the cost-effective method of addressing the varied issues that face our community. Members of the Center community gather to review data specific to Center. Through analyzing the data, board members will discover what the greatest needs are, for the town of Center and what is being done correctly to assist the young people. Once the priority needs are chosen the community looks within to support the resources that already exist and make them even better, as well as identify tested methods to fill any gaps identified. Each community is unique, and no single approach will work for all of them. That is why the CTC process is run by members of the Center community and everything is created and implemented at the community level.
Members of Center who choose to be involved can plan on learning about their community on a whole new level. The process works through several phases. The first being the creation of the CTC Community Board, a wide cross section of the community from business owners to health care professionals, to those who directly work with children. The second and third phases focus on community members analyzing community data to identify the risk factors that lead youth into: substance use; delinquency; teen pregnancy; school dropout; violence and depression and anxiety. And the protective factors that help youth stay away from such dangers is also identified.
Once the risk and protective factors are identified the real work begins. It’s important to make those protective factors strong! For instance, if members discover that after school programming is a protective factor that keeps kids safe from drug abuse then the Center CTC team can work to bolster the after-school programs that are currently in place or create new ones if there are none currently working. If the group finds that a risk factor for the town of Center is access to liquor stores or open cannabis grows the CTC group can focus its attention on having conversations with growers and liquor store owners to change their signs or build more secure fencing around cannabis grows. Maybe students are accessing substances while they walk home from school. Center can employ safety guards that stand on street corners to create safe places for students on their way home. These are all good options but the Center CTC coalition will find the right options for this unique community.
One of the best parts of the CTC process is the involvement of the community’s youth from the very start of the process. They learn professional skills while building a resume and developing the confidence that comes from knowing they are truly making a difference in their community.
Programs like CTC truly put the community in the driver’s seat of change. CTC is not only a community-lead effort, but it only exists within the community.
If you want to learn more about how to create lasting change for the community of Center and get involved with CTC, please call Saguache County Public Health at 719-655-2533.