If there is a truly drug-free community, we’re not aware of it. But all communities can work toward one. L.A. CADA has done it for over nine years. Our Drug-Free Communities (DFC) project operates in the community of Greater Whittier (Whittier and neighboring cities of Downey, Norwalk, Montebello, Pico Rivera, and Santa Fe Springs). Called the CARE Coalition, our DFC works to identify and unite disparate factions in the community to form a cohesive effort to reduce and eliminate youth substance use.
Our partners include representatives from local government, schools, the police department, as well as the faith community, businesses, parents, and youth. Members of our DFC have been trained in an essential element of working towards a Drug-Free Community – the use of Strategic Prevention Framework (or SPF) for community planning and decision making focused on prevention of youth substance use. The SPF has five elements: 1) Assess the local problem of underage drinking; 2) Determine project capacity; 3) Plan and design the project; 4) Implement the Plan into action; and 5) Evaluate the project’s process and outcomes.
L.A. CADA’s Drug-Free Communities project has conducted several local initiatives:
- Alcohol Initiative. Our “Think Twice Beer Run Campaign spreads awareness of the consequences of: 1) illegal sales of alcohol to minors; 2) illegal purchase of alcohol for minors; and 3) shoplifting of beer which can lead to a felony when force or fear are used in the commission of the crime. CARE Coalition members make educational visits to local alcohol retailers accompanied by a police officer. Additionally, we recruit and train youth volunteers to provide alcohol compliance monitoring at music festivals, such as the local Stagecoach Festival. Our DFC project provides information to festival coordinators based on previous years’ alcohol sale compliance, assisting them in determining vendors that can return to the festival.
- Training Initiatives. L.A. CADA’s DFC project conducts workshops to equip youth leaders and local adults with evidence-based information to prevent youth substance use. In our service area, this includes cultural competency training, including training for local law enforcement. The CARE Coalition delivers “Responsible Vendor Training” in Spanish and English to local retailers and festival providers to increase awareness of the harm caused by underage drinking and sale of marijuana products to youth, as well as vendor penalties for violations. We provide training for parents/caregivers on the abuse of prescription medications among youth, with a push to keep all medications in family homes locked up. L.A. CADA’s DFC project also organizes annual town hall meetings for community members to share up-to-date information on youth substance use, including prevention of parent/adult party hosting with use of alcohol/other drugs.
- Youth-Led Initiatives. L.A. CADA DFC youth initiatives focus on recruitment/training of youth DFC members. We hold workshops to provide young leaders with annual influencer training to facilitate environmental prevention and media advocacy, as well as training to develop youth-led events, such as a 10k run.
Learn how to: Start a Drug-Free Community Project in your neighborhood