Principal Investigator: Jesse S. Metzger

The State of Alaska, under the leadership of the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Behavioral Health proposes to use documented prevention principles, the five-step SPF process and a data-driven outcome focused system to increase the state's overall behavioral health prevention capacity in rural Alaska. This will be accomplished through the development of 13 to 20 regional training and technical assistance teams to provide support to the more than 200 villages and communities in rural and remote Alaska.

The goals of the Alaska SPF SIG are to: 1) Increase planning and coordinated efforts in the State of Alaska to enhance comprehensive and integrated statewide and regional prevention planning that applies the strategic planning framework; 2) Support and enhance a full continuum of prevention services in Alaska; 3) Enhance capacity for the implementation of evidence-based prevention approaches at the local level; and 4) Enhance and broaden the use of state-of-the-art approaches to prevention evaluation at the state and local program levels. The challenges in rural Alaska can include extreme isolation, inadequate living conditions, limited resources and struggles to retain traditional ways of life. These same challenges provide a diversity of rich cultures, subsistence lifestyles, and social systems that value families, community leaders, and elders. Some important progress has been made in developing strategies for successful community-based programs in some, but not all of our rural and remote communities.

Using results oriented evaluation at both the state and community level the State has developed and implemented a quality prevention strategy and framework in most urban and "hub" communities, while still missing our smaller and more remote communities. Critical to the success of the Alaska SPF SIG is the commitment to enhance partnerships with a diverse group of state agencies, schools, private non-profits, University of Alaska, and Tribal and health organizations involved in these efforts. Through these partnerships Alaska will circumvent the constraints that often hinder efforts to reduce the health, substance abuse, and mental health disparities that currently exist in rural Alaska. Through the Alaska SPF SIG we will develop regional and community capacity, promote strengths-based best-practice prevention programs, and encourage the development of clear prevention policies to guide rural Alaska's social, health and educational systems. The State of Alaska has contracted with the Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services to provide a comprehensive, outcomes-oriented evaluation of the SPF SIG.

This project is funded through the State of Alaska Division of Behavioral Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (Grant #U79SP015604).