Community Leaders Join Forces To Help Area Youth
Park County has embarked on a community-wide program to prevent youth health and behavior problems.
Sixteen key leaders – including city and county commissioners, the sheriff, city manager and school officials – met Aug. 10 at the County/City Complex in Livingston to initiate Communities That Care, or CTC.
“The CTC framework aims to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to improve health and behavior outcomes in our youth and future generations,” reads an Aug. 14 statement from Billi Taylor, who was recently hired by Park County as the CTC coordinator.
She’ll be facilitating the CTC process in Park County, and one of her first tasks was to organize and convene the Aug. 10 orientation and introduce the program to the attendees.
The CTC process begins with a youth survey to identify a community’s risks and protective factors. Based on that data, CTC helps communities select and implement tested and effective prevention programs and policies, according to Kristen Galbraith, Park County director of grants and special projects.
“CTC also helps amplify programs already working,” Galbraith wrote in an Aug. 7 email.
Galbraith described CTC as a five-phase process to provide communities with a step-by-step guide and tools to build a high-functioning community prevention coalition, develop a community profile utilizing a community youth survey, create a community action plan for prevention work, and eventually implement and evaluate activities. CTC, based in youth social development methods, is in use across communities in Montana, the nation, and internationally, according to Taylor and information from the county.
“The Communities that Care framework was developed at The University of Washington with over 40 years of research in prevention science,” Taylor wrote. “CTC guides communities through a set process to yield positive health outcomes in youth. Youth in CTC communities have proven to be less likely to initiate tobacco use by 33%, alcohol use by 32%, and delinquent behavior by 25%. CTC community data also shows youth had sustained positive effects at least through age 21 including reducing gateway drug use by 49%, and antisocial behavior by 18%.”
School superintendents in Livingston, Shields Valley, Gardiner, and the rural communities have committed to CTC, according to Taylor. To ensure the best success, the superintendents have committed to delivering the Montana Preventative Needs Assessment, or MT PNA, to 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students in early 2024, she wrote.
“Data from the MT PNA along with local data gathered from multiple Park County organizations will guide the CTC process and decision-making for our Key Leaders and Community Board Members,” Taylor wrote. “This data will help decrease problems such as substance abuse and violence, and guide the selection of evidence-based programs, policies, and practices to address the targeted risk factors.”
Taylor lives outside Wilsall and has 17 years of experience in education as an administrator and teacher working with youth, according to her statement.
Her position is funded with a grant from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services and the Arthur Blank Family Foundation. It’s a two-year funding opportunity, with up to eight communities eligible to receive up to $75,000 each per calendar year, according to Galbraith. The county also received a $33,000 grant from the foundation to help fund Taylor’s position.
The next step
With the support of the CTC’s key leaders, the next step is convening a community board that will consist of gathering 20-40 community members from across Park County who will attend an orientation/training in the fall to learn about the framework.
“Once committed, community board members will form workgroups to begin the ‘boots on the ground’ work,” Taylor wrote. “Possible members for the Community Board were brainstormed by our Key Leaders and will be contacted over the next 2-3 weeks with more details.”
Taylor will provide support to the community board and its work groups, works with coaches, prepares workshops, and handle community board meeting preparations and follow-up, according to Galbraith.
For more information on CTC, please visit their website: https://www.communitiesthatcare.net/
Read this article on Livingston Enterprise: https://www.livingstonenterprise.com/news/community-leaders-join-forces-to-help-area-youth/article_c0473aa0-3dbd-11ee-bc98-cbf2460d4f7a.html