The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition was awarded the Iowa Partnership for Success (IPFS) Grant in February, 2015 to address underage drinking and youth 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.
During the 2015 Fiscal Year the coalition completed the assessment and capacity building phases of the grant. This included completing a thorough assessment of the available data (Iowa Youth Survey, Law Enforcement, Juvenile Courts, etc.) for Van Buren County, reviewing the underage drinking issues and current consequences for underage drinking in the county. The coalition also completed a survey that included interviews with Van Buren County community members to determine the level of understanding the community had for underage drinking and youth binge drinking issues in the county and how they are being handled. To increase the ability of the coalition to address the underage drinking and youth binge drinking issues in the county the coalition examined its current ability and resources to address the issues and began to invite missing community members and organizations to the table to build its capacity.
During the 2015-16 Fiscal Year the coalition continued to build its capacity, which included recruiting community members to participate in the coalition meetings and work and communicating with key stakeholders in the county. The coalition also completed a written plan that outlined the services to be provided to address underage drinking and youth binge drinking in Van Buren County based on the data from the assessment. The plan included choosing prevention strategies to address the issues and ways to ensure strategies would be implemented accurately and in line with the expectations of the developers. In June, 2016 the coalition began implementing the five chosen prevention strategies.
During the 2016-17 Fiscal Year the coalition is continuing to build capacity and address the five strategies it was funded to work on as follows:
1) Alcohol Restrictions at Community Events at Privately Owned Facilities: The coalition has begun working with privately owned facilities to help them implement alcohol policies focused on the Best Practices for Alcohol Service at their location. Two facilities have established a “No Alcohol Allowed” policy.
2) Alcohol Restrictions in Public Places: The coalition researched what alcohol restriction policies are being followed in each town and the county. Coalition members will be visiting with each city council in July to present them with information on policies they could use in their town that would address the availability of alcohol to youth in public places, such as: public parks and community ball fields.
3) Substance Abuse Prevention Programs for Youth: The coalition worked with the Van Buren Community School District to implement the Life Skills Training Program in the 7th and 8th grades. A teacher and two coalition members were trained to deliver the curriculum and materials were purchased. All of the 7th and 8th grade students completed the curriculum by the end of the 2016-17 school year.
4) Underage Drinking Prevention Media Campaign: The coalition has worked with local media outlets to implement IDPH’s “What Do You Throw Away” underage drinking prevention media campaign. It is currently displayed on the billboard in Keosauqua; posters in the Van Buren County Hospital & Clinics; posters and screensavers at local libraries; posters, electronic billboard ads, and computer backgrounds at the Van Buren Community Middle/High School; posters at the Keosauqua Pool; posters at the Lacey Keosauqua State Park; and posters in local convenience stores.
5) Social Host Ordinance: A Social Host Ordinance would address the problem of adults knowingly providing a place for an underage drinking party. The coalition currently is working to decide on whether or not a county wide social host ordinance can be implemented. If it cannot then the coalition will work with the local towns to implement a Social Host Ordinance for their towns.