Tell me about your community and the communities that your coalition serves – its population and unique features. When was the coalition formed?
The Fort Bend Community Prevention Coalition (FBCPC) serves parts of Fort Bend County, in Southeast Texas. Fort Bend is located along the Gulf Coast, within the Houston metropolitan area. The coalition’s catchment area is defined as the geographic boundaries of the Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) and spans approximately 170 square miles. Forbes listed Fort Bend as one of the fastest growing counties in the United States; in 2017, the county’s estimated population was 764,828 people. 48% percent of households have children under the age of 18, and almost one-third of residents are under 18, making the county a popular place to raise a family. Approximately 8% of the population lives below the poverty line. 44% of Fort Bend County includes residents of 20 distinct municipalities, while 56% remains unincorporated. Socioeconomics range from affluent master-planned communities to economically impoverished communities. The coalition has been in existence since 2010, and has received both Drug Free Communities (DFC) and Texas Health and Human Services – Community Coalition Partnership funding since 2013. The coalition also receives funding from the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking (STOP) Act grant.
What unique issues is your coalition facing?
“About 1 in 4 (22%) of FBISD students drink alcohol (Pride Surveys, 2018), making underage drinking the most prevalent substance misuse problem in our current service area,” said coalition coordinator Payal Patani. “Fort Bend County has over 900 alcohol retail establishments (Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, 2019) and FBCPC’s environmental scan found that many continually display advertisements promoting social norms favorable to drinking in young adulthood, such as consuming hard liquor in party settings. Key informant interviews with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office reveal social hosting –i.e., parties hosted by parents where minors are served alcohol– occurs regularly in the county. Parents tend to lack the knowledge that providing alcohol to persons under 21 years of age is a Class A misdemeanor (FBRC Community Survey, 2018). In fact, most students who drink do so at home (52%) or at a friend’s house (35%; Pride Surveys, 2018).”
Tell me about this PSA- the idea behind it and what purpose you hope it serves.
“The coalition’s service area is one of the most diverse in the nation,” said Patani. “County demographics are 35% White, 20% African American, 19% Asian, 24% Hispanic, and 2% other. Lending to its diversity, more than 40% of residents are foreign born, coming from Asia (46%), Latin America (40%), Africa (5%) and Europe (7%). A recent study by the Rice University Kinder Institute declared Fort Bend County to be the most diverse county in the nation. Their Houston Area Asian Survey found more than 95 languages and dialects are spoken within Fort Bend ISD geographic area. It is crucial to prepare and provide culturally and linguistically appropriate substance misuse prevention messages. Therefore, our coalition created the multi-lingual PSA to remind community members about the consequences of serving alcohol to minors in four different languages: English, Mandarin, Spanish and Hindi. The PSA was recently unveiled at our fourth annual Drug Symposium. We hope that providing relevant and culturally appropriate information and services will promote positive outcomes.”
What outcomes has your community has experienced as a result of your work?
“Over the years, the coalition has successfully reduced drug use among youth as follows: a 34.0% reduction in annual underage drinking rate from 2014 to 2018; a 29% reduction in youth marijuana use; and a 44% reduction in prescription drug use among youth in the FBCPC’s service area,” said Patani.
What advice would you give to other coalitions that may be addressing some of the same issues?
“The coalition’s primary focus should be on influencing environmental and social policies to improve conditions in which people live, work, and socialize,” said Patani. “Using community-based processes will enhance the ability of the coalition to effectively provide substance misuse prevention services. The coalition should promote coordination and collaboration to make efficient use of community resources. Outreach and recruitment should remain a focus for the coalition. As a result of these efforts, the coalition will build strong partnerships with key stakeholders who will help move the needle.”
Will you be attending the 2019 Mid-Year Training Institute? If so, what lessons do you hope to take back to your coalition from the event?
“Yes, our coalition will attend the 2019 Mid-Year Training,” said Patani. “We hope to receive training in policy, advocacy and sustainability. We will continue to implement strategies to change policies, social norms and behaviors to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors. Therefore, having appropriate skills and tactics is very important.”
“As a Texas coalition, having Mid-Year in Grapevine, Texas is ideal because ‘everything in Texas is bigger and better.’ Grapevine has historic Texas charm and close proximity to Dallas – commercial and cultural hub of the region. From the beautiful shoreline of Lake Grapevine to Grapevine Mills Mall, there is something for everyone to enjoy!”