The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition was awarded the Iowa Partnership for Success (IPFS) Grant in 2015 to address underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County. The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition’s IPFS project is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In June of 2016, the following strategies were approved by the Iowa Department of Public Health to address underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County.
1) Alcohol restrictions at community events held at privately owned facilities: The coalition will be working with privately owned facilities to help them implement the Best Practices for Alcohol Service at their location. The coalition will also be exploring the idea of implementing a policy with the city councils and the county board of supervisors that would require all special event licensees to comply with the Best Practices for Alcohol Service at their events.
2) A local social host ordinance: This ordinance would address the provision of a location for alcohol consumption by youth 20 years old and younger on private property. It would include civil penalties with fines. The ordinance would also address the needs of a rural community like Van Buren County where at times parties are held without the knowledge of land owners.
3) Alcohol restrictions in public places: The coalition will explore and recommend policies to be put in place by each city council and the Van Buren County Board of Supervisors. The policies would address the availability of alcohol in public places, such as public parks and community ball fields.
4) Individual strategy programming for youth provided at the local middle school: The coalition is working with the Van Buren Community School District to implement the Life Skills Training Program in the 7th and 8th Grades. The coalition will be able to train a teacher who will then implement this curriculum. The coalition will also pay for the curriculum to be purchased for implementation in the fall of 2016 with the 7th-grade students and in the fall of 2017 with 7th and 8th-grade students. The Life Skills Curriculum builds on the information provided each year, and that is why it will take two years to implement it in both the 7th and 8th grade classes.
5) IDPH Media Campaign: The coalition will be working with local media outlets to implement the Iowa Department of Public Health’s “What Do You Throw Away” underage drinking prevention media campaign.
The five strategies above were chosen based on data collected during the assessment phase of the project completed in 2015. The assessment phase included data collection, focus groups, a Tri-Ethnic Readiness Survey and one on one interviews. The information collected showed that access to alcohol at community events in public places and privately owned facilities, access to alcohol at parties held in people’s homes, and youth not understanding the dangers of underage binge drinking should all be addressed through the five selected strategies.