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SAMHSA News - November/December 2004, Volume 12, Number 6

SAMHSA Heads Drug-Free Communities Program

SAMHSA is expanding its leadership role in substance abuse prevention by assuming responsibility for management of the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) program. A broad initiative, the program currently funds more than 600 community coalitions and 200 mentoring programs across the country.

On October 1, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) transferred the grant administration of the program from the Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—specifically, SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).

"For SAMHSA, this program will become an integral part of our prevention work," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. "The Agency's commitment and dedication to grassroots efforts in communities nationwide will serve this program well."

The Drug-Free Communities program provides grants of up to $100,000 to community coalitions that mobilize their communities to prevent or reduce alcohol, tobacco, illicit drug, and inhalant abuse by youth.

The grants support local coalitions that comprise diverse populations—youth, parents, the media, law enforcement, school officials, faith-based and fraternal organizations, health care professionals, and state, local, and tribal government agencies, as well as other community representatives.

"Giving community coalitions the resources and tools they need to strengthen their coordination and prevention efforts is critical," said CSAP Director Beverly Watts Davis. "The Drug-Free Communities program encourages people of all ages to join in reducing substance abuse in their communities," she added. Information about current effective programs is also provided to community leaders.

Moving the DFC program to SAMHSA follows recommendations made by the Advisory Commission for Drug-Free Communities. ONDCP solicited proposals from multiple Federal agencies to administer the Drug-Free Communities program grants. After careful review, ONDCP officials asked SAMHSA to assume control of the program.

On SAMHSA's new role, ONDCP Director John Walters said, "I am confident this leadership change will allow our anti-drug coalitions to become even more successful in preventing drug use."

On September 27, the same day Mr. Walters announced that SAMHSA would assume control of the DFC grants program, he awarded $21.9 million in new Drug-Free Communities matching grants to 227 communities in 46 states. An additional $41 million will support the continuation of grant awards to 487 existing community coalition projects operating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Upcoming Drug-Free Communities grants will be announced by SAMHSA.

The DFC program was created under the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997. In December 2001, Congress passed and the President signed into law a 5-year extension of the Drug-Free Communities Act, authorizing $399 million in funds through Fiscal Year 2007.

For more information, visit SAMHSA's Web site at www.drugfreecommunities.samhsa.gov or e-mail dfc@samhsa.hhs.gov.

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