Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — After 10 years of receiving federal funding, Saratoga Partnership for Prevention will run out of grant money in September 2013.

Its members are determined, however, to keep its programs running and good results coming in.

Formed in March 2000, the Partnership is a coalition of Saratoga County’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council, a nonprofit community-based organization. The council’s mission is to provide education, information and referral services on alcohol, tobacco, other drug and violence prevention to individuals and local communities.

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services granted money to the Prevention Council to help fund the coalition. The Drug-Free Community Support Program then gave the Partnership for Prevention funding for a five-year cycle, renewing for another five years when that first cycle ended.

“This is the last year of our funding,” Partnership for Prevention Coordinator Maureen Cary said. “We will need to focus on sustainability, on how to run our programs without those government monies.”

A coalition is an agreement among individuals or groups to cooperate in joint action, each in its own self-interest. The members of Partnership for Prevention work to decrease substance abuse among youths, support families through the teenage years, develop better relationships among youths and adults and build family and community norms against drug use.

The Partnership has sponsored several popular programs in Saratoga Springs, including the All Stars Camp attended by 200 students this year. The set of four one-week summer sessions came out of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. Saratoga Springs students who have just finished fifth grade may attend the camp, where they do everything from set off model rockets to set goals for the future. The All Stars Camp — buttressed by related school curriculum, a lunch group program and an after-school program — is intended to reduce alcohol and drug use among middle-schoolers, as well as lower violence and early sexual activity rates.

The All Stars Camp can be sustained by campers’ fees, Cary said. Other programs, such as the youth and parent surveys conducted by the partnership, will likely be modified for efficiency.

Past surveys have shown gratifying results, Cary said. A decline in alcohol use in grades six through 12 has been indicated, and fewer than 50 percent of students surveyed reported regular alcohol use.

Cary has been with the coalition for five years. She said the various sectors represented have formed a cohesive, compatible group. The partnership’s active members include the Saratoga Springs City School District, Saratoga Springs Police Department, Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office, Four Winds Saratoga, Meditation Matters, Franklin Community Center, Saratoga Mentoring, Saratoga Springs City Recreation Department, Saratoga County Youth Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Saratoga Springs Parent Teacher Student Organization, Saratoga County Probation Department and Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church. These community organizations work together to coordinate their services.

“We are working to find ways to keep prevention on the public policy agenda,” Cary said. “We are also seeking new funding, as our goal is to not disband. We hope our members will commit to that and take on new roles here.”