The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Building Strengths Through Community-Level Interventions: Effects of Communities That Care On System and Youth Outcomes

Friday, January 17, 2014: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
HBG Convention Center, Room 103A Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Organizations, Management, and Communities
Symposium Organizer:
J. David Hawkins, PhD, University of Washington
The field of Social Work is deeply rooted in community practice (Chaskin, Brown, Venkatesh, & Vidal, 2001). Furthermore, social work practitioners and scholars have long emphasized the importance of strength-based approaches to addressing social problems and enhance wellbeing (Saleebey, 1996). Community practice that focuses on building and sustaining community capacity for wellbeing incorporates this important tenet of social work practice. Building capacity refers to the process of enhancing commitment, skills, and resources among community residents and stakeholders to transform their communities (Mayer, 2002). Community capacity brings together existing resources and strengths of the community to build relationships, nurture leadership, and deepen community participation in order to achieve common goals (Chaskin, 2001). Communities That Care (CTC) is model of community practice that, after 4 years, found students 48% less likely to use smokeless tobacco, 23% less likely to use alcohol, 37% less likely to binge drink, and 31% less likely to engage in a variety of delinquent acts (Hawkins et al., 2009). The theory of change suggests these intervention outcomes may be achieved by building the strengths of community residents, community leaders, and community youth.

CTC uses a coalition-based approach to develop the individual, coalition, and community capacities for adopting and sustaining a science-based approach to prevention.  A community-wide strategy for science-based prevention involves reliable and valid assessment of all community youth; collectively prioritizing risk and protective factors the community desires to target for change; identifying service gaps and existing programs and policies that affect prioritized risk and protective factors; selecting programs, policies, and practices that have been scientifically tested and demonstrated to be effective at addressing the prioritized risk and protective factors to fill service gaps; developing a work plan, budget, timeline, evaluation, and sustainability plan for implementation; monitoring them to ensure they are reaching the target population with requisite levels of fidelity, intensity, and effectiveness; and refining the programs, policies, and practices as necessary based upon ongoing assessment.  CTC is based on the Social Development Theory which seeks to promote prosocial engagement through the provision of opportunities, skills, and recognition at all levels of the community system.

The symposium panelists report findings from the Community Youth Development Study (CYDS), the first randomized controlled trial of CTC in 24 communities across 7 states.

The first paper examines data reported by coalition members within the 12 CTC coalitions regarding the strengths of individuals, coalitions, and communities associated with high functioning coalitions that adopt a science-based approach to prevention. The second paper uses data provided by community key leaders within all 24 study communities to examine the strengths of leaders and communities associated with sustained adoption of a science-based approach to prevention over time. The final paper uses longitudinal data from 4,407 youth to examine the extent to which providing opportunities, skills, and recognition to youth increase the strengths of adolescents within 24 communities. 

Collectively, these papers report findings from a community-randomized trial of CTC that will contribute to an evidence-base for strength-based community level practice.

* noted as presenting author
Exploring the Strengths of Individuals, Coalitions, and Communities Associated With High Functioning Coalitions
Valerie B. Shapiro, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; J. David Hawkins, PhD, University of Washington; Sabrina Oesterle, PhD, University of Washington
Sustaining Adoption of Science-Based Prevention: Long-Term Effects of Communities That Care
Kari M. Gloppen, MPH, University of Washington; Eric C. Brown, PhD, University of Washington; Bradley Wagenaar, MPH, University of Washington; J. David Hawkins, PhD, University of Washington; Isaac C. Rhew, PhD, University of Washington
The Effects of Communities That Care On Community- Wide Protection
BK Elizabeth Kim, MSW, University of Washington; Kari M. Gloppen, MPH, University of Washington; Isaac C. Rhew, PhD, University of Washington; J. David Hawkins, PhD, University of Washington; Sabrina Oesterle, PhD, University of Washington
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