December 17, 2015

CADCA Mobilizes Its Members to Help Pass Landmark Education Legislation with Vital Substance Abuse Prevention Provisions Included

This week Congress passed and the President signed into law S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a landmark reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – the first time since 2001’s No Child Left Behind – which includes several crucially important provisions regarding substance abuse prevention that CADCA and its members advocated hard for over the course of nearly one year.

Substance Abuse Prevention Provisions Included in the Every Student Succeeds Act:

The final version of S. 1177 that was signed into law by the President included almost all of the provisions that CADCA and its members had advocated for throughout the past year in the bill’s Title IV, 21st Century Schools:

  • inclusion of the words “drug use and abuse” in relevant sections throughout Title IV, which had not been included at all in the original draft of the bill;
  • additional language to the purpose section of Title IV as well as throughout the title for grants to States and local educational agencies to include “foster[ing] safe, healthy, supportive, and drug-free environments that support student academic achievement”;
  • further definition of drug prevention to include “raising awareness about the consequences of drug use that are evidence-based”; and
  • requiring local educational agencies (LEA) to use at least 20% of student support and academic enrichment grant funding for drug and violence prevention

This is a massive achievement for the field of substance abuse prevention, and for CADCA and its members. The ESSA will now provide funding for evidence-based drug prevention in schools that will help every community in America to be safe, healthy, and drug-free.

With the elimination of funding for the state grants portion of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program in FY 2009, there has been almost no federal funding for school-based drug prevention. The passage of the ESSA does not appropriate a specific amount of money towards drug prevention, but its requirement for LEAs to use at least 20% of academic enrichment grant funding, will result in vital federal education funding for school-based drug prevention.

Without CADCA’s advocacy efforts on this issue, these provisions addressing substance use prevention would not have been included at all. No other national advocacy organization attempted to address the issues that CADCA brought up; the success of getting these drug prevention measures into the final version of the ESSA can be entirely credited to CADCA and its members.

Stephanie Armbrister Strutner, MPH, CPS II, Executive Director, Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention of Anderson County, in Clinton, Tenn. worked on ESSA with CADCA. She will be honored as an Advocate of the Year award at CADCA’s upcoming National Leadership Forum.

Strutner told CADCA, “I was thrilled to be asked by (CADCA’s Public Policy Consultant) Sue Thau to help share information with my elected members of Congress and their aides which was imperative to our work in the field of substance abuse prevention. Thau and her team do an excellent job setting the stage to make it easy for us, as members of CADCA, to share information in a timely fashion to our elected leaders.”

Strutner continued, “It was a pleasure to play a role in such an important development in the progress made in the field of substance abuse prevention. The inclusion of specific drug prevention language in the ESEA re-authorization ensures that our efforts, as well as those of our valued partners across the country and within our own communities, will continue to initiate population-level change. Using available data on risk factors, including incidence, prevalence, and perceptions of factors predictive of drug use are critical components which will ensure we develop comprehensive needs assessments that lead us to establish healthy, safe communities.”

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