Prevention services suspended

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September 10, 2015 - 12:00 AM

A new approach for prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and gambling problems is underway in the state of Kansas, but in the meantime, the area is without any services.
The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), along with five contractors, known as the Kansas Prevention Collaborative, addressed community coalitions Friday in Chanute. KDADS will spend about nine months crafting a new plan of services.
In the past, regional prevention centers have partnered with the state to help people access mental health programs as well as those that prevent substance abuse, problem gambling and suicide. These prevention centers received grant money to aid their efforts.
Iola’s regional prevention center was at Preferred Family Healthcare which opened in Iola in 2009. Its region served Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Cherokee, Crawford, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson counties. The prevention center focused on underage drinking and substance abuse.
During the “reorganization,” the center’s prevention employees were released.
The state’s 10 regional prevention centers were notified in June by KDADS that their funding grants for prevention services would not be renewed.
Sarah Fischer, prevention program director at KDADS, said the department will take requests for new funding in the spring.
“My job is to advocate for what you’re doing,” Fischer said. “We didn’t just wake up one day and say ‘hey we’re going to change this.’ We’ve spent months evaluating.”
A gap between community level planning and prevention was an issue.
“All this planning was being done but prevention centers weren’t working together. Plus, there were no resources to implement strategies to achieve outcomes,” she said.
So KDADS began creating a new vision and partnered with five contractors: The Kansas Prevention Collaborative consists of KDADS, DCCCA (Douglas County Citizens Committee on Alcoholism), WSU Center for Community Support and Research, The Center for Learning Tree Institute at Greenbush, NAMI Kansas and Keys for Networking.
Of those, WSU will receive $684,997; Greenbush, $609,950; and DCCCA, $346,245, to implement planning, training and analysis.
Each partner of the Kansas Prevention Collaborative will work on individual tasks such as data collection, communication, statewide training and consumer outreach and education.
Lisa Chaney, research analyst/evaluator from the Greenbush Service Center, said her group will provide a number of ways to bring an assessment of a community to focus. This will be done through the Kansas Communities That Care Survey and other platforms. The survey examines factors of students’ lives that put them at risk of substance abuse.
Randy Johnson, director of behavioral health initiatives at the Center for Community Support Research, said his team is working on an online communication hub to enable coalitions to share information, training and marketing techniques.
Fischer said the collaborative will keep communities updated on its progress.

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