CLFC Creates a Platform for Environmental Strategies
Environmental Strategies Emerging
In Communities with Science-Based Replications
Drawing on the published research and experiences in working with local prevention providers in 48 states on the Creating Lasting Family Connections (CLFC), the developers wish to engage the audience of prevention practitioners into an open dialogue regarding the range of environmental strategies that are evolving in conjunction with this and other SAMHSA model programs as they are implemented with various community coalition efforts around the nation.
The CLFC program was designed to impact individual, family and community domains under a broad conceptual framework that allows local providers to integrate the latest risk and protective factor theory of prevention with community-wide perceptions. The developer's awareness and sensitivity to the limited community-wide impacts achievable by programs that target only individuals (and even families) has led to a creative linkage of activity across a wider range of prevention strategies while maintaining a consistency of message across multiple domains. Many effective programs have difficulty accomplishing enough "reach" to justify costs. This tension between impact and reach has stimulated new and creative methods of using CLFC and other SAMHSA model programs as a stimulus that is opening the door in communities to engage in social marketing, and a variety of other environmental approaches. Involving individuals and family members of certain targeted groups in effective science-based programming that addresses the individual and family environment and then encouraging these groups to act as catalysts to initiate broader environmental approaches can dramatically increase a prevention entity's reach. We believe the long term potential for positive change for individuals and families who may not be able to fully engage in curriculum-like programs for prevention is enhanced by this mutually supportive multi-tiered approach. The literature in the field fully recognizes that multiple messages and activities across multiple domains can enhance and co-generate a synergy of effects.
Developing a national dissemination model (CLFC) that has several implementation options from a research model (CLC) that had one primary implementation design involved many challenges and implications. The developers believe that the issues surrounding model programs and their relationships to broader community-wide prevention efforts is of real interest to local preventionists and treatment service providers who are considering implementing science-based prevention and treatment programs, conducting program modifications and innovations, or combining recognized models with their own existing efforts. Further, the developers believe that having a deep comprehension of a program's design and understanding the limits of implementation flexibility in conjunction with current staff skills and abilities is critical when attempting to bring research-based programming into any local community. Further, and most importantly, the integration of other environmental approaches in the replication and training infrastructure embodied in the CLFC implementation design represents a sophisticated and successful approach to gaining community-wide cultural and ethnic support for the implementation of a nationally recognized model program. Creating community-wide social marketing and environmental prevention activities, not only strengthens the outcomes for youth and families that participate in the "model program" implementations, but also significantly broadens outreach to individuals and families unable to attend sessions of significant duration. Finally, this approach also enlarges our potential base of recruitment to larger numbers of families who might eventually participate more fully in individual and family skill building at a later time.
The CLFC program is modular in design, which allows flexibility for implementation in any local community, mental health center, school, and/or faith-based system for youth and their parents/guardians. This family-based program can be implemented with three levels of target populations - universal, selected, and indicated. Participants (youth, ages 9-17, and parents and/or other caring adults) are encouraged to improve their personal growth through increasing self-awareness, expression of feelings, interpersonal communication, and self-disclosure. Participants are taught social skills, refusal skills, communication skills, family management, and appropriate alcohol and drug knowledge and beliefs, which provide a strong defense against other family or environmental risk factors. Both youth and parents are provided opportunities to practice these skills in a safe group setting. The CLFC Program design assists community coalitions to reach out to families in need in a way that can provide a roadmap for further social and environmental networking for greater and broader ranging positive change.
The Theory Driving This Presentation
Next, we will briefly discuss the theory driving the integration of environmental approaches with individual and family focused "model interventions". Recent prevention research and prevention practitioners have recognized the increasing value and increased impact of strategies that address both the individual environment and the shared "community" environment. Effective and comprehensive models often include multiple components in order to maximize outcomes in a given community. The presenters of this workshop recognize the value of this practice, and will share important insights in developing mutually supportive and comprehensive messaging across multiple domains.
In developing CLFC and in developing all related environmental strategies we have adopted a resiliency/resiliency mechanism for the original CLC program design, and this is continued in our CLFC program design. As stated earlier, through this mechanism, preventionists seek to increase resiliency factors, which may enhance other resiliency factors, strengthening the overall effects. Thus, our approach seeks to build on strengths instead of working to reduce the deficits (risk factors). We believe that some risk factors for ATOD use are very difficult to change. For example, it is very difficult to alter a major risk factor for substance abuse such as the low socioeconomic status of a community or even one family. Therefore, we focused on enhancing the conditions and experiences that appear to protect youth from initiating ATOD use (resiliency or protective factors) regardless of socioeconomic status, cultural differences, or ethnic heritage. Our experience and past research had shown that resilient youth can avoid drug use and abuse, even when multiple and severe risk factors are present. Further, enhancing strengths is also perceived as a more positive event for individuals, families, and communities. The likelihood of stigmatization and/or threats to cultural or ethnic pride is dramatically reduced when programs focus on building what appear to be universally accepted strengths. We also devote serious attention to making our environmental campaigns multi-culturally relevant.
Overall, the Creating Lasting Connections research results indicated that as the intervention improved family function and community empowerment, parental and youth substance abuse decreased. These results of the Creating Lasting Connections effort were published in the following four professional peer-reviewed journals:
1) Mobilizing Church Communities to Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse: A Model Strategy and Its Evaluation Journal of Community Practice, Vol. 7(2) 2000, pp. 1-27.
2) Preventing and Reducing Alcohol and Other Drug Use Among High-Risk Youths by Increasing Family Resilience Social Work Journal of the National Association of Social Workers, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 297-308.
3) Mobilizing Church Communities for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention Through the Use of Volunteer Church Advocate Teams The Journal of Volunteer Administration, Vol. XV, No. 2, Winter 1997, pp. 16-29.
4) Reducing Alcohol and Other Drug Use by Strengthening Community, Family, and Youth Resiliency Journal of Adolescent Research, Vol. 11, No. 1, January 1996, pp. 36-67.
Outline of the Interactive Portion of the Presentation
After reviewing the information above, the Developer and National Training Director of the Creating Lasting Family Connections program will then manage a dialogue with the audience regarding a set of key issues involved in maximizing the outcomes achievable by targeted model programs aimed at individual and family domain risk and protective factors by combining these efforts with related and supportive environmental strategies aimed at the larger community.
The two workshop facilitators will then review, discuss and "tease" these issues out in a managed dialogue with the presentation participants based on their personal experience in working with hundreds of local community representatives who implement their nationally recognized CLFC program in tandem with other environmental strategies aimed at impacting the larger community.
Listed below is an outline of the issues to be reviewed:
1. Is a model program's content related to any known or desired environmental strategies?
2. Are any of the materials adaptable to a bumper sticker approach?
3. Are the local program staff "community" competent?
4. Can developers be helpful in developing a broader community-wide campaign?
5. Can working on both individual and community focused approaches in tandem provide synergistic effects in both sets of outcomes?
6. Can we still achieve meaningful outcomes when we lose important but subtle nuances of meaning in moving from individuals and family focused efforts to community-wide approaches?
7. Samples and Examples
Selected Samples and Examples
CLFC Environmental Strategies
Adopting Regulations - (Beer sales at the festival)
Public Disapproval of Intoxication - (High rates of alcoholism is associated with high stress and high level of acceptance of intoxication.)
Non-Judgmental Assistance with Personal or Family Pain or Problems
Tonal differences in environmental approaches after CLFC training experience (positive, non-judgmental, approach)
Results Targeted for Conference Participants
As a result of this presentation:
a. Participants will be able to identify several ways to tie model programs and environmental strategies into complementary community-wide prevention efforts.
b. Participants will be able to recognize and employ strategies to increase the impact of both model programs and environmental strategies in local communities to achieve greater bang for each buck spent.
c. Participants will be able to recognize the importance of matching appropriate model programs with effective environmental strategies.
d. Participants will increase their ability to plan, train for, and implement any individual or family focused prevention program in conjunction with complementary environmental strategies.