Disseminating effective community prevention practices - opportunities for social work education.pdf - Disseminating Effective Community Prevention

Disseminating effective community prevention practices - opportunities for social work education.pdf

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Disseminating Effective Community Prevention Practices: Opportunities for Social Work Education J. David Hawkins, 1 Valerie B. Shapiro, 1 and Abigail A. Fagan 2 Abstract In the United States, about 17% of adolescents meet diagnostic criteria for mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) disorders. Six million young people receive treatment services annually for mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. These problems affect one in five families and cost $247 million annually. Some strategies for preventing MEB disorders in young people have been developed, tested, and found to be effective in preventing the onset, persistence, and severity of psychological disorders, drug abuse, and delinquency. Unfortunately, tested and effective prevention policies, programs, and practices are not widely used. This article highlights recent advances in prevention science and describes some opportunities and challenges in advancing the use of science-based prevention in communities. The chapter concludes by exploring the potential role of social work education in developing a workforce ready to increase community access to effective prevention strategies. Keywords prevention, prevention science, Communities That Care, social work education, Community Youth Development Study, workforce development, training, curriculum content Much progress has been made over the past 30 years in the development and testing of prevention policies, programs, and practices. Effective policies, programs, and practices for pre- venting mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) problems in young people have been identified through controlled studies using rigorous experimental designs (O’Connell, Boat, & Warner, 2009). A variety of effective prevention programs have been found to produce benefits to individuals and society, which far exceed their costs (Allen, 2005). Lists of these programs are available on the Internet (colorado.edu/cspv/ blueprints; ncadi.samhsa.gov/features/ctc/resources.aspx). Yet in the allocation of resources, effective prevention strategies are often overlooked in the favor of strategies to cope with the ‘‘downstream consequences’’ of disorder (Woolf, 2006). Systems for treating MEB disorders are sustained through an existing infrastructure that provides funding, access, and workforce training. The translation of effective preventive approaches to widespread practice now requires the develop- ment of a sufficient infrastructure for prevention (Cullen & Jonson, 2009; O’Connell et al., 2009; Woolf, 2006). Balas and Boren (2000) speculated on reasons that advances made through research might fail to be successfully institutionalized in widespread practice. They suggested that (a) scientific research is often intentionally isolated from the complicated realities of individuals, service providers, and communities to maintain the integrity of the scientific process; (b) scientific theories tested with specific populations may fail when generalized to understudied populations and settings; (c) tested and effective practices may be difficult for potential

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