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.
Conversations with Our Kids 

The Communities That Care Coalition is collaborating with Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Greenfield Safe Schools Safe Streets, and the Gill-Montague Community School Partnership to offer a series of events for parents of teens and tweens. Past workshops:
  • "The Supportive Magic of Not Giving Advice," held at Baystate Franklin in June 2019. Participants learned and practiced practical skills to make tough conversations with teens easier.
  • "Marijuana and the Developing Brain: Raising Youth in the Age of Legal Marijuana," held at Baystate Franklin in January 2019. Kat Allen, a CTC Co-Coordinator and Cheryl Pascucci, Nurse Practitioner at Baystate presented. Both presentations are available here.
Future events are being planned on cell phone/internet/social media use and more. Please contact us if you have ideas for events that would be helpful for parents raising teens and others who work with youth.

Teen Health Survey Data Released!

The Communities That Care Coalition released the 2018 Franklin County / North Quabbin Teen Health Survey data at its fall full coalition meeting on September 28, 2018.  More than 1,600 local 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students from all public school districts in the region participated in this survey, which has been repeated every 3 years since 2003.  The data show several very interesting and important trends, namely:

  1. Youth substance use – including alcohol use & binge drinking, marijuana use, prescription drug misuse, and use of other illicit drugs – is at historic lows.

  2. The exception to this is vaping which continues to be on the rise.

  3. There are big improvements overall in the “risk factors” in the family, school, community, and peer environments, with young people’s reports of their family environments showing particularly marked improvements over the last decade.

  4. An important point of concern is that depressive symptoms among girls have risen substantially over the last 6 years.

  5. We continue to see health inequities by gender, race & ethnicity, sexual orientation, and income.

The full 2018 data report and crosstabs are available online at or by clicking on "Data" to the left here.  Please feel free to call if you have any additional questions.

Shared Use and Community Kitchens Webinar
On September 24, 2018, the Communities That Care Coalition hosted a workshop for advocates of community use of space for food production and organizations interested in producing food products for sale or donation. For those unable to attend, the content of the  workshop was captured in a webinar available here.

Family Day, Monday, September 24
Family Day is a national celebration of family dinners and a reminder of the importance of spending quality time together as a family. 

You'll find lots of ideas about family-friendly meals, conversation starters, dinnertime games, and more (like getting everyone to help prepare dinner and clean up afterwards!) at the Family Dinner Project and Family Day websites. Our sister coalition the Gill Montague Community School Partnership has posted additional family dinner tips on its website, and Bekki Craig of the Greenfield Housing Authority and active member of CTC's Parent Education Workgroup was interviewed on WHAI about Family Day. Listen in here


Teen Resource Card

Get your pocket-sized card here. It's loaded with resources for jobs, health, housing, counseling, and more.

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 is available here.

At the full coalition meeting, Sherry Patch, Sunderland Town Administrator received the 2017 Mike Fritz Community Builder Award, 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 Use Prevention. 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 2017 full coalition meeting focused 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 awarded $5000 in minigrants

The workgroup approved minigrants to ten projects in 2017, with funding made possible by a grant from Baystate Franklin Medical Center to support the following workgroup strategies:

  • 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.
Communities That Care spread 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. And click here for a CTC PowerPoint presentation on LifeSkills program.

CTC formally adopted new goal of promoting health equity and racial justice

In the public release of 2016 Teen Health Survey data, the Coalition focused on health disparities among area students by race and ethnicity, family income, and sexual orientation. 
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. At the full coalition meeting in October 2016, Communities that Care Coalition members adopted a new goal to "Increase health equity in Franklin County and the North Quabbin, specifically in our coalition's priority areas." Slides from that meeting are available here. Communities That Care has hired Kent Alexander, Social Justice Consultant, to work with the coalition and its workgroups to create strategies to further the goal.

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.

My Turn: "Steering our children clear of addiction"

Kat Allen's My Turn column ran in the Greenfield Recorder July 22, 2016. It highlights some of what parents of younger kids can do to prevent substance use. In case you missed it, you can find the article here.

Revised Community Action Plan lays out the Coalition's work for the coming years
The CTC's fourth and latest Community Action Plan 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
In 2015-2016, 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.