Communities that Care Chaffee County hosted their bi-monthly meeting on February 24, to discuss progress and how to better represent equity within the coalition. Participants were broken into groups where they discussed questions about how aware their organization is regarding equity and how the coalition can improve. Then the break-out groups came back together for an update in three strategy workgroups.
Strategy 1 addresses the risk factors and ease of access to substances reported by youth on the Healthy Kids Colorado survey.
The strategy is to support current existing laws around enforcement of possession and use. Currently, a new ordinance is being drafted named the Social Host ordinance which makes parents and other adult caregivers more accountable when abuse is happening in their residence or on their property. It is being reviewed by attorneys and will be refined over the coming months.
“Once it’s in place and the language is right it will go through the city attorneys and county attorneys and at that point, we can push it through [City] Council for adoption,” explained Salida Police Chief Russ Johnson. During the next CTC meeting, a presentation will be given to further explain specifics of the ordinance.
Strategy 2 addresses the risk factors of early initiation of substance use.
Plans include the continued presence of the universal prevention strategy. The goal is to get universal prevention in all middle and high schools in Chaffee County. Salida Middle School was the first place the Life Skills training was implemented and currently sixth through eighth-graders have been through the program.
Crest Academy is almost complete with its Life Skills curriculum. The sixth graders at the Buena Vista Middle school completed the curriculum last semester. Currently, eighth graders are completing the program. “We’re touching all of the schools at this point and want to keep figuring out how to make this sustainable programming,” said Casey Stauch of Chaffee County Family and Youth Initiatives.
Strategy 3 addresses the risk factor of parent attitudes and involvement with substance use.
Currently, a local media workgroup is being put together which plans to launch in June, 2021. This campaign is running alongside a state campaign.
Forward Together is a collaboration between the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS). Their goal is to have parents talk with their children about substance use and they hope to see a measurable reduction of substance abuse by 2022.
The local campaign focuses on social norms, meaning if everyone is doing it kids think it’s socially acceptable for them to be doing it too. Behavior is influenced by people’s perceptions of what is and isn’t “normal” behavior. They hope to shine a light on what is perception versus reality.