Recognizing the importance of addressing the issue of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the state of Alaska, in the year 2000, the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) applied to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) for funding to support a statewide Alaska FAS Prevention Project.  The proposal was successfully reviewed and funded and a State Office of FAS was developed in Juneau.  SAMHSA awarded the Alaska FAS Prevention Project $5 million per year for five years, spanning calendar years 2000 to 2005.  The Alaska FAS Prevention Project has several components, including the funding of several FAS Multidisciplinary Community Diagnostic Teams for screening children at high risk for FASD, prevention of FASD, interventions targeted to high-risk women and families, and delivery of services and treatment to families and individuals already diagnosed with FASD.  The diagnostic teams, perhaps the most central aspect of the Alaska FAS Prevention Project overall, were envisioned by the State Office of FAS to fulfill several missions.  Specifically, funding of their applications was contingent on clear plans to provide prevention, intervention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment.  In particular, the grant mandated the screening and diagnosis for FASD among children in State custody.  At this time, 13 diagnostic teams have been identified and have received funding.  Of these 13 teams, several are fully functional in the state of Alaska and some are still being developed.  The functional teams are in various stages of development and implementation.  It is anticipated that all teams will be fully functional and financially self-supporting by the end of the SAMHSA granting period in 2005.

 

As part of the conditions of funding the statewide Alaska FAS Prevention Project, SAMHSA required that the project be evaluated by an independent team of evaluators.  This evaluation contract was awarded to the Center for Human Development (CHD) at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), with the request that the evaluation be conducted by an interdisciplinary team of evaluators from across the UAA campus.  Staff at CHD subsequently selected various professionals from the UAA community to build the Evaluation Team and to divide the work involved in the evaluation of the Alaska FAS Prevention Project.  The Alaska Comprehensive and Specialized Evaluation Services (ACSES), the evaluation branch of the Behavioral Health Research and Services program in the College of Arts and Science, was one of the groups approached by CHD to participate in the evaluation.  ACSES was honored to take on the evaluation of the diagnostic teams funded by the FAS Prevention Project.  The ACSES-developed Diagnostic Evaluation Plan began in FY02 and is scheduled for completion in FY05.

To date, the Diagnosis Evaluation Plan (DEP) has involves the investigation of diagnostic services through the below-listed broad goals that were carefully tailored and operationalized for the specific purposes of the FASD evaluation project. 

 

  1. Collection of data relevant to short-term process, impact, and outcome;
  2. Provision of ongoing formative feedback (utilization-focused process evaluation);
  3. Collection of data relevant to long-term outcomes;
  4. Provision of outcome-related feedback (utilization-focused outcome evaluation); and
  5. Contribution to the detailed documentation of the Alaska FAS Project that can be shared with other communities and states.

 

Investigations to date have been reported back to the State of Alaska Office of FAS in 18 Technical Reports.  These report have detailed information about all functional diagnostic teams in the state of Alaska, historical information about FASD prevention and intervention efforts in Alaska, data about means of making FASD diagnoses used across the nation, and related specifics.