Thursday, December 29, 2011

How we got started with CTC...

Based on feedback received via email over the last couple of weeks, we decided it might be a good idea to provide a brief summary of how Five Town CTC got started.  SO, here goes:

Dr. J. David Hawkins
Dr. Richard Catalano
Back in 1997 researchers at the University of Washington's Social Development Research Group (SDRG) began a study called Diffusion of State Risk/Protective-Focused PreventionThe Diffusion Project for short.  Dr. Richard Catalano and Dr. J. David Hawkins were interested to learn how communities made decisions about the strategies they use to prevent youth problem behaviors such as substance abuse, violence, delinquency, school drop-out, and teen pregnancy.  In particular, they were interested to see whether communities were using information about known predictors for problem adolescent behaviors when they selected programs, policies, or practices.  The study involved seven states (including Maine) where state offices collaborated along with selected communities.  Camden was one of the sites where these researchers gathered data from student self-report surveys (the Maine Youth Drug and Alcohol Use Survey or MYDAUS) and interviewed key leaders from the community about decisions related to prevention programs and strategies.  The study was a data collection effort and did not involve training in prevention science or any particular strategy, but provided data from the surveys back to the school district.

As this study wrapped up, it was clear to the research team that a framework for community prevention efforts might be helpful to help bridge the gap between what prevention science was telling us and what people were actually doing.  SDRG applied for funding for a new study, this time to test a system of community mobilization for youth behavioral health.  They were awarded monies from several federal agencies, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institute of Mental Health; National Cancer Institute; National Institute on Child Health and Human Development; Center for Substance Abuse Prevention; and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Now that they had funding, the researchers were looking for pairs of communities that were similar in relation to demographics and rates of problem adolescent behaviors, and they needed baseline data about the communities in order to be sure that their interventions were making a difference.  They decided to go to the communities that participated in the Diffusion Project in order to recruit 24 candidate communities for this new study. 

It was 2003 when SDRG approached leaders in the Five Town community to see if they were interested in being part of this new national study.  The timing was good for such an effort here, as we were still reeling from the loss of several youth to suicide, and there was considerable urgency around youth issues.  Our community's leaders agreed to participate, and we joined the Community Youth Development Study.

The system being tested was Communities That Care, or CTC.  Training of the volunteers began in the summer of 2003, which was also when the group's Community Coordinator was hired (Dalene Dutton).  The Penobscot Bay YMCA agreed to serve as a fiscal agent for the monies associated with the grant for the study and to provide office space for the new coalition.  Everything came together in late July, and we were off and running!

We will tell the story of what has happened between our start in 2003 and the present in future installments.  If you have questions or comments, please post them here, or send us an email!

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