The strategy behind the Communities That Care initiative is one of risk-focused prevention. This is based upon the simple notion that to prevent a problem from occurring, we need to identify the factors that increase the risk of that problem developing and then find ways to reduce these risk factors.
Dr. J. David Hawkins, Dr. Richard F. Catalano and their colleagues have reviewed more than 30 years of existing work on risk factors from various fields and have completed extensive work of their own to identify the risk factors for drug abuse, violence and delinquency in multi-ethnic communities. Other researchers have reviewed literature on school drop-out and teen pregnancy and identified the risk factors for these problems.
All five of these problem behaviors – Substance Abuse, School Drop-out, Teen Pregnancy, Delinquency, and Violence – share common risk factors in important areas of daily life such as the family, the school, the community, peer groups and within individuals themselves. A chart showing the relationship between the risk factors and problem behaviors can be found here.
The Communities That Care operating system encourages community mobilization, engaging all sectors of the community. It also establishes a shared vision for the future and provides clear and measurable outcomes to track progress and ensure accountability, evaluating progress toward these desired outcomes. CTC is very useful in identifying gaps in community services and helps to select research-based programs and strategies proven to be effective.
The CTC system is unique in that it is:
Inclusive – engaging all areas of the community;
Proactive – identifying and addressing priority areas before young people become involved in problem behaviors;
Research-based – using a variety of fields including sociology, psychology, medicine, education, criminology and others to solve community problems; and
Community Specific – avoiding a ‘cookie cutter’ approach and allowing each community to use its own unique data to create a long-range plan to strengthen existing resoucres and fill identified gaps in services.
The CTC planning system will help decrease duplication and fragmentation of limited resources and increase funding potential and community collaboration.
Simply put, Communities That Care brings community groups together so that data gathering, grant writing, and program implementation are done collectively – in a timely, effective, and efficient manner.
And that means a greater likelihood of success – and a healthier future for young people!