Coalitions in Action – Jackson County Prevention Coalition – Sharpening Strategies at CADCA Academies
Every day CADCA trains. CADCA’s National Coalition Academy (NCA) is a comprehensive training program that teaches coalition leaders the skills and processes necessary to create long-lasting, impactful outcomes in their communities. By the end of the year-long training, coalitions develop five essential products: (1) a Community Assessment, (2) a Logic Model, (3) a Strategic and Action Plan, (4) an Evaluation/Communication Plan and (5) a Sustainability Plan. CADCA’s Graduate Coalition Academy (GCA) takes coalitions to the next step: getting outcomes.
The goal of the GCA is to enhance participating coalitions’ ability to implement and evaluate their prevention plans. Over the course of a year, participating coalitions focus on updating and using their products to establish the baseline for each long, intermediate and short-term objectives on their logic model, enhance their comprehensive strategies targeting local conditions, monitor and track their implementation efforts and capture the outcomes of their work.
This year’s GCA cohort consists of 10 coalitions from across the country. One coalition – Jackson County Prevention Coalition (JCPC) – is going even one step further. In addition to stepping up strategies at the GCA, JCPC is also attending the newly created Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) Academy.
The MOUD Academy was established in response to the current state of opioid addiction in the United States. Medications like buprenorphine, methadone and injectable naltrexone are gold-standard, empirically supported treatments for opioid use disorder (OUD), and if used consistently, can substantially reduce the risk of overdose and death. The goal for the MOUD academy is to increase coalition leaders’ capacity to inform their community members on the benefits of medications for opioid use disorder, as well as to support coalitions in the implementation of coalition-based strategies for facilitating the use of MOUDs for indicated populations in their communities.
“Our coalition has been around since 2005, so we’re fairly established. I think at times, it’s easy to become complacent and keep doing things the way that we have always been doing them, but we applied to the GCA because we felt that we have the capacity to really up our game and become more sustainable,” explained Julie Furne, Project Coordinator for JCPC.
“Regarding opioids, the obvious answers have been storage, disposal and education. Through the MOUD academy, we have the opportunity to look at harm reduction, which is new territory for us. When we were investigating our root cause, we had a discussion with our opioid work group, and discovered that we don’t have medication assisted treatment in our rural county. People are traveling great distances currently – some even have to drive out of state – to receive treatment, which is a time and money resource and a huge barrier. That has been one of our biggest ‘aha’ moments so far, and something we plan to focus our efforts on throughout the MOUD academy.”
“While we’re updating the community assessment for the GCA, we are also updating it for MOUD. It’s a fair amount of work, but it all makes sense, and it all has a purpose. We’ve found that everything we’ve done so far complements and builds on each other. Since a good community assessment is a comprehensive one, the work we do in each academy will overlap, and ultimately, we will leave these trainings with really strong products.”
“Something we have struggled with is that, although we have someone representing each sector in our coalition, it has been really elusive for us to get real depth and breadth of membership. At each week of training, instead of sending paid staff, I plan to bring along different coalition members representing various sectors with me. At our first week at the GCA, I brought Jen Warren, a coalition member and nurse, and at the subsequent weeks, I plan to bring a law enforcement officer and retired schoolteacher. We wanted to spread the wealth of knowledge because that’s a part of sustainability.”
“I think we’ve tried to help our coalition members understand that what we are learning is a public health model, not something exclusive to substance use and misuse prevention. Jen has already been able to apply what she learned to the County Health Needs Assessment, which every county in Iowa does every five years.”
“The academies have been extremely helpful because we can take the time to have someone else read and critique our logic models and action plans. While we might think that we’re doing a great job, there’s always room for improvement. I think sometimes you need that little push to remind yourself that you can always do better, and my biggest takeaway from Week One of the GCA is that we have a lot of room for improvement. We do great things. I have amazing people at our table, but we can do so much more if we take advantage of opportunities like these academies to sharpen our skills.”