The Communities That Care Coalition was formed in 2002 in Franklin County, Massachusetts, when a group of community members came together to address alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among local youth. CTC provides a structure for community members to coordinate their work around a common data-driven and evidence-based plan. That is, CTC uses data about the status of local young people to identify needs and measure the success of programs. And CTC stays current with prevention research and selects strategies that have been proven effective in reducing risky youth behaviors.
The Communities That Care Coalition’s vision is that Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region be a place where young people are able to reach their full potential and thrive with ongoing and coordinated support from schools, parents and the community.
The Communities That Care Coalition’s mission is to bring together schools, families, youth and the community to promote protective factors, reduce risk factors, prevent substance use and other risky behaviors, and increase healthy eating and active living to improve young people’s ability to reach their full potential and thrive.
CTC maintains a Community Action Plan that identifies goals and objectives, priority areas for work, and strategies and programs to address those areas. The original Community Action Plan came out of a two-year community assessment and planning process, and it has continued to evolve as new data become available indicating the relative success of different strategies. The current Community Action Plan was endorsed by the coalition in October 2016, and will be used to guide the work of the coalition until 2019.
CTC mentors sister coalitions through a strategic planning process to help them coalesce, target their efforts, and position themselves to win grant funding to support their work. In this way, CTC is seeking to become a coalition of coalitions, with CTC providing guidance and services best suited to a regional approach, and sister coalitions doing the focused work needed in their geographical areas. CTC has mentored the Gill-Montague Community School Partnership, the Youth CHOICe project of the North Quabbin Community Coalition, and Greenfield's Safe Schools, Safe Streets Coalition.
CTC is co-hosted by the Partnership for Youth (a program of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments) and Community Action Youth Programs, and has representation from local government, businesses, schools, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, media, hospitals, service providers, parents and youth. CTC's Coordinating Council, which functions as the decision-making body for the coalition, includes leaders from each of these sectors of the community. The day-to-day work of the coalition is guided by five workgroups and committees -- the Policy and Practice Change Workgroup, the Parent Education Workgroup; the Regional School Health Task Force, the Mass in Motion Steering Committee, and the Youth Leadership Initiative. For further detail on the coalition's governing structure, see the CTC Organizational Chart and CTC Principles of Operation.
Over the decade of its existence, CTC has seen declines in local youth substance use and has received national recognition for its work. In 2007, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), with a membership of over 5000 substance abuse prevention coalitions, named CTC its Coalition for the Year for demonstrating positive outcomes of coalition work. In 2008, CTC co-chair Kat Allen received CADCA's Advocate of the Year Award, and in 2009 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health awarded CTC its Healthy Communities Principles Award for building capacity using local assets and resources.
CTC's Kat Allen, CADCA Advocate of the Year, exercises her advocacy skills with John Kerry on behalf of local young people.