Communities that Care. We all make a difference!
The Communities That Care Coalition (CTC) brings together youth, parents, schools, community agencies, and local governments to promote the health and well-being of young people in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. 
CTC is co-hosted by Community Action of the Franklin, Hampshire and North Quabbin Regions and the Partnership for Youth, a program of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments
For a quick introduction to CTC, watch a 3-minute video about the coalition's work.
Fall full coalition meeting: 2017 student survey shows continued decline in alcohol, marijuana and cigarette use, and provides data to assess school climate. 

The Fall Communities That Care Full Coalition Meeting focused on school climate, with highlights from 2017 student survey data. This was the first time that we have used the new U.S. Department of Education School Climate Survey. Schools have each been provided with district-level reports that will help them to identify strengths and challenges for goal setting and program planning. More information on Franklin County and North Quabbin youth health survey data, including 2017 school climate data, is available here

At the full coalition meeting, Sherry Patch, Sunderland Town Administrator received the 2017 Mike Fritz Community Builder Award (see the awards page), Ilana Gerjuoy presented a new report on school policies and practices on substance use (see below), and Kat Allen made a case for investing in the continued success of our public schools.

What Schools Can Do: new report out on local school policies and practices related to substance use

What Schools Can Do: Creative Ways Franklin County and North Quabbin Schools are Implementing DESE Guidance on Substance UsePrevention. This report shares findings from meetings at all of the area districts, including information on local trends in school policies and practices, program highlights, current challenges, and ideas for next steps to enhance existing practices. It outlines how districts across Franklin County and the North Quabbin have created policies and practices that are in line with recent guidance from The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and that respond to the needs of their local communities.  Local survey data is incorporated to provide further context.

In response to local interest, a special section on increasing equity in discipline includes research, best practices and local examples about how to respond to violations.

Throughout the report, clickable links to the Program Descriptions Appendix and external websites provide an opportunity to learn more about specific programs.

Many thanks to everyone who met with us or provided information for this project!”

CTC's spring full coalition meeting focuses on health equity and social justice

Kat Allen provided background information about CTC’s approach and work on social justice. The 2017 Sarah Cummings Leadership Award went to Nicole Zabko for her decade of service as Director of the Greenfield Department of Health, and for her collaboration with groups across the county, including active involvement in Communities that Care.

Jeanette Voas shared a presentation on social determinants of health and health disparities. Powerpoint slides are available here and we are working on a video version to post as well. 

Stand Up, a Community Action group for youth of color, engaged the whole audience in an experiential activity about racial inequity. Stand Up members stayed and participated in discussions during the rest of the meeting, providing input based on their experiences in the community as youth of color.

Kent Alexander and Rachel Stoler led the group in discussions about racial disparities and health equity after a viewing excerpts from Unnatural Causes and a TED talk by Dr. Camara Jones.

CTC Parent Education Workgroup announces the availability of minigrants

Funding is made possible by a grant from Baystate Franklin Medical Center and is available through Clinical and Support Options to support the strategies of the Parent Education Workgroup, including:

  • to provide evidence-based parent education to parents and caregivers of children age 9 through 18 years;
  • to strengthen family connection as a protective factor for youth, including through activities that promote positive, regular, and routine family time, as well as promoting family meals which provide warmth and connection as well as structure and consistency.
The RFP is available here. Apply online here Applications received by April 3 will be considered first; applications received after this date will be reviewed on a rolling basis, depending on remaining funding available.  

Communities That Care spreads the word about LifeSkills on Mass Appeal

CTC Co-Coordinator Kat Allen and Frontier Regional School health teacher Kate Blair appeared on Channel 22 WWLP's Mass Appeal on Jan 11, 2017, to talk about what works in prevention, the Life Skills curriculum, and its implementation in area schools. Check the Mass Appeal website for the video. For a more detailed discussion of LifeSkills, see Kat's conversation with Amy Swisher on GCTV's Healthbeat.

October 2016 full Coalition meeting addresses health equity; Community Builder Award goes to Cheryl Dukes
Cheryl L. Dukes, center, holds the Mike Fritz Community Builder Award. With her are Rachel Stoler, left, and Kat Allen of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments. Photo: Tess Jurgensen
Communities that Care Coalition members convened Oct 21 and adopted a new goal to "Increase health equity in Franklin County and the North Quabbin, specifically in our coalition's priority areas." The meeting also included a discussion of recent focus groups on food access, intercept surveys about healthy options in convenience stores, and the coalition's new Youth Leadership Initiative. The meeting concluded with a rousing acceptance speech from Cheryl Dukes of UMass Nursing School, this year's recipient of the Mike Fritz Community Builder Award. Cheryl has become a very familiar face in Coalition circles, as she has worked to build linkages between UMass and health and prevention initiatives in Franklin County and the North Quabbin. Find a longer write-up of Cheryl's award here. Powerpoints from the meeting are available here.

New student health data now available for Franklin County and the North Quabbin 

Check the data page for results of the 2016 Franklin County/North Quabbin Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The survey covers a wide range of health issues, including nutrition, physical activity, substance use, accidental injury, violence, and sexual behaviors. In the public release of the data, the Coalition focused on health disparities among area students by race and ethnicity, family income, and sexual orientation. The Coalition is examining these disparities as a prelude to adding new Coalition goals and efforts towards achieving health equity.

The press conference at which the data was released featured three speakers: Coalition Co-Coordinator Kat Allen, Ralph C. Mahar Guidance Counselor Caitlin McKenna, and Community Action Youth Leadership Development Specialist Tyanna Normandin. GCTV's video of the press conference is available here.

Community Resources Finder for North Central Massachusetts

The Regional Behavioral Health Collaborative, under the leadership of Heywood Healthcare and HealthAlliance Hospital, in partnership with other healthcare, mental health and community service organizations in the region, has developed an online resource tool, the North Central Massachusetts Community Resources Finder for all providers and clients in North Central Mass and the North Quabbin Region.

Coalition publishes My Turn

Kat Allen's My Turn column ran in the Greenfield Recorder last month, highlighting some of what parents of younger kids can do to prevent substance use. In case you missed it, you can find the article here.

New Community Action Plan lays out the Coalition's work for the coming years
CTC's Coordinating Council and workgroups
recently completed work on
the Coalition's latest revision of its Community Action Plan. The document provides a comprehensive snapshot of the Coalition in 2016: its mission, vision and values, its organizational structure, logic models for its work, progress to date, and strategies it will be used to address youth health and well being in the next few years.

Community Voices: needs assessment on local youth substance use
CTC conducted a set of interviews and focus groups as a part of a community assessment on the topic of youth substance use. Coordinating Council members sought out interviews with school personnel, service providers, and law enforcement officials who work directly with youth who use, and held focus groups with parents and youth who are familiar with or embedded in local youth culture, including a high-risk segment of that culture. 

Community members gathered to review findings from the community assessment and to share their own perspectives. Participants in this “Community Voices” session also viewed short videos created by area youth to share their experiences and knowledge about youth substance use. The assessment report is available here, and the five videos here.
Area schools implement LifeSkills curriculum

The Communities That Care Coalition, with support from the Opioid Task Force and Baystate Franklin Medical Center, sponsors trainings to prepare area teachers to deliver the LifeSkills middle school curriculum. LifeSkills helps young people build key skills such as decision making, anger management, conflict resolution, and effective communication. It has a solid research base, with proven outcomes in reducing youth substance abuse and violence. Two area schools introduced LifeSkills into health classes in the 2014-2015 school year, and four others began to use the curriculum in 2015-2016. Find more information about the LifeSkills program in this PowerPoint from CTC's spring 2015 full coalition meeting.