CTC’s website states that youth in CTC communities were 25%-33% less likely to have health and behavior problems than youth from control communities. PHOTO COURTESY OF CTC

Communities That Care

Prevention program in the works

In partnership with Southwest Montana Prevention, community members are working on implementing Communities That Care (CTC) in Madison County. The process began a year ago but was set back due to the pandemic.

CTC is a prevention-based program focused on addressing youth behavior, alcohol and drug use, bullying and school attendance through education and activities. Other counties in the state utilize CTC—part of the Social Development Research Group in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington—but this will be the first time it comes together in Madison County.

“CTC guides communities through a proven five-phase change process. Using prevention science as its base, CTC promotes healthy youth development, improves youth outcomes and reduces problem behaviors,” states CTC’s website.

“The best thing is prevention rather than intervention,” Esther Lince, Southwest Montana prevention specialist with Butte Cares and coordinator for the Madison County DUI Task Force, said. Lince will help facilitate CTC, but the program will be run by a core group of Madison County leaders.

The first step of CTC’s five phase program involves bringing together that group of community members to organize, discuss how the program will play out and how it will work with the youth. Madison County’s CTC program is in its beginning stages, focused on getting leadership set.

This team will include Mike Wetherbee, Sheridan Schools Superintendent, Landon Dybdal, CEO of the Ruby Valley Medical Center (RVMC), and Melissa Brummell, Madison County Public Health Nurse, among others. Once the core team is formed, members go through CTC training and eventually establish smaller community groups and create programs for youth.

When implemented and set in motion, Wetherbee felt CTC would be helpful for the community and the kids. Dybdal mentioned a conversation, had more than once, that asks what options youth have in the community.

“This is kind of to give them more options and healthier activities for them to do,” Dybdal said. Advocating for healthy youth not only benefits the youth today or this year, but it affects the health of the community and provides a solid foundation for youth to enter the adult world, he continued.

Some programs like CTC have reduced the amount of crime or substance abuse in places that experience those issues more poignantly than Sheridan, Wetherbee said. He tells his own kids and his students: “The best way not to get hooked…is don’t start smoking one or drinking one in the beginning. If you can avoid that first step, you can avoid a lot of problems.”

Southwest Prevention will open a new office in Sheridan with help from Madison County Search and Rescue and the Madison County Board of Commissioners. Lince will be able to use this space to continue her work with schools, libraries, hospitals and mental health organizations.

Lince said her prevention work pairs quite well with the county DUI Task Force. She feels like people are starting to be able to put a face to the project.

The Task Force—made up of a team including Madison County Sheriff Phil Fortner—has been around for a while, but inactive, Lince said. She is trying to get it on par with where it could be.

“We just all see a need,” she said.

More Information

The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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