Utah Evidence2Success Community Chooses Priorities for Better Outcomes

Posted January 18, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Aecf utahe2schoosespriorities 2017

Com­mu­ni­ty and sys­tem lead­ers of Kearns in Salt Lake Coun­ty, Utah — one of four sites nation­wide imple­ment­ing the Casey Foundation’s Evidence2Success frame­work — have iden­ti­fied four key pri­or­i­ties to focus on in their work to improve well-being for local chil­dren and youth.

Select­ing pri­or­i­ties is a key step in the Evidence2Success process, and paves the way for the selec­tion and imple­men­ta­tion of test­ed, effec­tive pro­grams that can improve those out­comes start­ing in the next school year. After review­ing data gath­ered from local youth, Kearns lead­ers chose the following:

  • Kearns youth take pride in their com­mu­ni­ty and in their schools.
  • Kearns youth under­stand and avoid the harm­ful effects of sub­stance abuse, includ­ing alco­hol and nicotine.
  • Kearns fam­i­lies are strong and sup­port­ive of their children’s growth and development.
  • Kearns youth are men­tal­ly healthy.

In Octo­ber of 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion select­ed Salt Lake Coun­ty as one of four sites nation­wide to imple­ment Evidence2Success, a frame­work based on pre­ven­tion sci­ence that helps pub­lic and pri­vate sys­tems work togeth­er with com­mu­ni­ties to improve out­comes for chil­dren and fam­i­lies by gath­er­ing data from local young peo­ple, iden­ti­fy­ing pri­or­i­ty out­comes for improve­ment and select­ing and imple­ment­ing evi­dence-based pro­grams to strength­en those out­comes. Since that time, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Gran­ite School Dis­trict, com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions, social ser­vices, local uni­ver­si­ties and res­i­dents have been work­ing to build sup­port for the ini­tia­tive and advance its pos­i­tive youth devel­op­ment goals.

Work groups made up of Kearns res­i­dents, teach­ers, pre­ven­tion spe­cial­ists, researchers and school dis­trict per­son­nel ana­lyzed the results of the Stu­dent Health and Risk Pre­ven­tion (SHARP) sur­vey ― a state-run risk and pro­tec­tive fac­tor stu­dent sur­vey con­duct­ed every two years by school dis­tricts ― as well as oth­er social indi­ca­tor data to help iden­ti­fy pri­or­i­ty behav­iors and risk factors.

The sur­vey revealed rates of alco­hol use, nico­tine use and symp­toms of depres­sion among Kearns youth above the statewide aver­age. It also point­ed to a range of com­mu­ni­ty strengths and assets to lever­age for pos­i­tive change. For exam­ple, the sur­vey showed that most young peo­ple in Kearns think it is cool” to work hard in school, stand up for their peers and par­tic­i­pate in school activities.

We spent a lot of time going over the results of the sur­vey with mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty, who were par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cerned about drug and alco­hol abuse among young peo­ple in their neigh­bor­hoods,” says Car­o­line Moreno, edu­ca­tion pro­gram man­ag­er at Salt Lake Coun­ty Human Ser­vices and the local site coor­di­na­tor for Evidence2Success. Those dis­cus­sions led to a greater under­stand­ing among par­tic­i­pants of the neg­a­tive behav­iors that result when kids feel disconnected.”

Over the next few months, the Kearns Evidence2Success Com­mu­ni­ty Board will begin to iden­ti­fy the pro­grams and strate­gies that most close­ly address the cho­sen pri­or­i­ties. They will select pro­grams through Blue­prints, a nation­al reg­istry of evi­dence-based initiatives.

Build­ing com­mu­ni­ty sup­port and inte­grat­ing local input into the process takes time and effort,” says Car­o­line Moreno. But in the end, you will have cre­at­ed a prod­uct that peo­ple real­ly believe in and feel pas­sion­ate about.”

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