U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Dan Donovan today announced $125,000 in federal grant funds for the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness’ Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) Initiative. The funding is provided through the White House’s Office National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Programs. The ONDCP-SAMHSA funds are provided to local community coalitions for preventing youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.
“The prescription drug abuse crisis on Staten Island is symptomatic of the larger opioid epidemic that New York State and the entire country is facing, and we need to fight back now,” said Senator Schumer. “The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness has been on the front lines of combatting the disturbing drug abuse uptick among our Staten Island youth and this investment will help provide them with the resources they need to continue their life-saving work.”
“This critical federal funding will help facilitate a wide range of prevention programs to combat substance abuse here on Staten Island,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As the opioid epidemic continues to grow in New York and across the country, we can’t wait any longer to take action and curb this growing crisis. Substance abuse is a serious problem especially for our youth, and we need to work towards creating a safe environment for individuals and families. By increasing accessibility to services we can help provide the support and resources they need to put their lives back together.”
Rep. Donovan said, “The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness couldn’t be more deserving of this grant. Their team has done so much good for our borough already, and it’s just this type of investment in on-the-ground experts that will turn the tide in the opioid abuse epidemic. Thank you to Sen. Schumer and Sen. Gillibrand for their continued advocacy on this issue – finding solutions to the drug crisis is more important than partisan politics, and I’m proud to partner with whomever necessary to deliver results.”
“The Drug Free Communities grant has given us the ability to strengthen collaboration among systems and stakeholders to reduce substance abuse among Staten Island youth,” said Adrienne Abbate, executive director of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness and project director for the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse initiative. “As we enter our fourth year with this vital grant, we are encouraged by the progress made but understand there is critical work to do to both prevent substance abuse and effect positive change. We are grateful to our federal representatives Congressman Donovan, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for advocating for resources to this local and national issue.”
The Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness’ TYSA initiative aims to decrease the use of alcohol and prescription drug abuse among Staten Island youth. TYSA is led by a steering committee of over 30 organizations and individuals from the non-profit, private and government sectors. According to the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness, the grant will be used to fund:
- Youth Development Survey (YDS): A survey that gathers data regarding behaviors and attitudes surrounding alcohol and substance use among those in grades 7 to 12. The purpose of this survey is to collect information relevant to planning prevention programs focusing on health issues such as alcohol and other substances, tobacco, and violence and will also help highlight the connection between risk and protective factors and specific health behaviors.
- Quarterly United We Stand campaigns, where on and off premise businesses will be trained in Responsible Beverage Server (RBS) trainings in order to give employees of establishments that serve/sell alcohol the knowledge and skills to help them serve responsibly and fill the legal obligations of alcohol service.
- Sticker Shock Campaign: To make the public aware of the dangers associated with alcohol use, the youth council will go into stores and apply warning stickers on cases of beer and other alcohol that carry prevention messages about alcohol.
- Community Education: The DFC grant focuses heavily on educating the community about the risks associated with substance use. For instance, Parents You Matter includes a presentation in which parents, caregivers, and others who work with youth are trained in how to identify substance use, the reasons why youth use substances, the drug landscape in Staten Island, and tips on how to prevent youth initiation or intervene if they suspect that there is an issue; Youth You Matter includes a presentation in which youth are trained to identify symptoms of substance misuse as well as information on the current drug landscape. In addition there will be two public forums/leadership summits each year that highlight specific issues associated with youth substance and alcohol misuse.
Background on the Drug-Free Communities Support Program
The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the Nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use. Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the DFC Program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.
The DFC Program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate youth and adult participation at the community level in local youth drug use prevention efforts.
According to data for 2014, an estimated 3,800 young people per day between the ages of 12 and 17 used drugs for the first time in the preceding year. Additionally, high school seniors are more likely to be current smokers of marijuana than cigarettes and non-medical use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs remains unacceptably high. Parents should also know that 17% of high school seniors in 2015 reported binge drinking (i.e., 5 or more drinks in a row) in the past two weeks.
Recognizing that local problems need local solutions, DFC-funded coalitions engage multiple sectors of the community and employ a variety of environmental strategies to address local drug problems. Coalitions are comprised of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, health care and business professionals, law enforcement, and media. By involving the community in a solution-oriented approach, DFC also helps those youth at risk for substance use recognize the majority of our Nation’s youth choose not to use drugs.