Local efforts to improve community-based substance abuse intervention services for at-risk youth received national attention this week. King County received one of the first-ever Science to Service awards for best practices and innovation in substance abuse treatment. Separate ceremonies celebrated the achievement in Washington, D.C. and Seattle.
King County was honored for the successful implementation of an assessment tool called the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs. The GAIN is a progressive and integrated series of measures and computer applications designed to support substance abuse treatment practices, including initial screening; brief interventions, and referrals to ancillary services. The tool provides a standardized clinical assessment that providers use in the diagnosis, placement and treatment planning process for people receiving services within the King County provider network.
"This national recognition reaffirms King County's ongoing commitment to providing innovative and creative programs that will help young people with drug and alcohol problems receive the treatment they need to achieve healthier and more productive lives and futures," said King County Executive Ron Sims.
Launched in 2005, the award-winning project is a key element in the ongoing effort to transform the county's chemical dependency service delivery system to be more responsive to the needs of at-risk youth, and is closely tied to the region's Reclaiming Futures grant working with the juvenile justice system. The project has already resulted in a substantial increase in substance abuse treatment completion and treatment retention rates. In fact, Seattle and King County now have the highest treatment completion and retention rates for youth in the state.
"As recently as 2001, about 33 percent of youth were completing substance abuse treatment and today, almost 60 percent of youth admitted are completing treatment," said Jim Vollendroff, assistant division director and the prevention/treatment coordinator for King County. "This is an incredible accomplishment by our provider community in engaging and serving young people."
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration created the awards program to recognize exemplary achievement by public sector and community organizations providing evidence-based programs to prevent and treat mental illness and substance abuse. King County was one of 20 programs in 15 states to receive the administration's inaugural awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
King County shares its national recognition with many partners, including community treatment providers and criminal justice agencies. A local Science to Service award was presented by the county to the Center for Human Services of Shoreline to acknowledge that agency's exemplary commitment to implementing the GAIN tool within their agency.
The award presentation was one part of a celebration held Sept. 14, 2007 honoring the fifth anniversary of the Reclaiming Futures project, a Robert Wood Johnson grant-funded program established in King County and in nine other locations nationwide to improve access to treatment services for youth involved in the criminal justice system.
"Too many of our young people become involved in the criminal justice system because of untreated substance abuse problems," said King County Juvenile Court Judge Patricia Clark. "For five years, Reclaiming Futures has helped us to connect at-risk youth to the treatment and supportive services they need to overcome alcohol and drug dependency and get on the road to more stable lives and hopeful futures."
Reclaiming Futures partners include courts, police, local and county government, treatment providers, schools, businesses, families and others working together to improve access to treatment services, coordinate other social services, support families, reduce criminal justice involvement and costs and improve public safety.