Coalitions in Action: Connecting Prevention Parents via the Safe Homes Network

 

Located east of Scottsdale, Arizona between the McDowell Mountain Preserve and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the town of Fountain Hills sits in the heart of Arizona’s richest history and has created their own Safe Homes Network to reduce underage substance abuse in the community.

“If I’m a parent and my child is invited to a party at a home where I don’t know the parents or the child, I can click on the Safe Homes Network app on my phone and type in the parent’s name who is hosting the party,” said Shelly Mowery, Fountain Hills Coalition Director. “From the app, I can see if they are a Safe Homes Network member. If they are, the telephone number or e-mail of the parent will be listed and I can then place a call or send an e-mail to those parents to ask questions or as a check-in to make sure they know a party is happening at their home. The Safe Homes Network creates a community of connected parents.”

The coalition found that parents were allowing youth to drink alcohol at home, essentially implying it was okay to drink as long as no one is driving. The coalition wanted to find a way to connect parents and provide safe environments for youth. The Safe Homes Network gave the coalition the opportunity to do so. The targets of the project are the parents of middle and high school students. Currently, the coalition has 464 families signed up for the Safe Homes Network. Each year, the Safe Homes Network banner of families is updated, providing a great opportunity for parents to talk about the app and how they are using it, and the coalition can thank them for signing the pledge. To become a Safe Homes Network member:

  1. Parents sign a pledge not to allow underage drinking or drug use in their home.
  2. Parents’ contact information is entered into the Safe Homes Network database.
  3. Parents download the Safe Homes Network App to their phone or tablet and check it when their child is invited to a party or gathering where they don’t know the parents.

Fountain Hills began as a cattle ranch, transforming into a vibrant community with a population of approximately 23,000. Since the coalition started the Safe Homes Network, there has been a 44 percent decrease in the past 30-day use of alcohol, a 37 percent decrease in marijuana use and a 51 percent decrease in prescription drug abuse.

When the coalition reaches 500 families signed up, they plan to publish a full-page ad in the local newspaper recognizing all the families that have made a commitment to keeping kids drug and alcohol-free.

“If coalitions are looking for a way to create cohesion in their community around underage drinking and drug use, the Safe Homes Network idea might be a good option. We have found that creating a Safe Homes Network provides a community that fully supports our cause and mission,” said Mowery. “When people see their name on the Safe Homes Network banner, they feel like a part of what we do.”