When SAMHSA funded its most recent cohort of Partnerships For Success (PFS) II grantees, CAPT, tasked with providing training and technical assistance to the group, saw it as an opportunity to try something new. The result: an innovative, “cohort-based” approach to providing services that has not only extended the reach of CAPT services but also fostered vital—and much-requested—cross-sharing and dialogue.
Launched in 2012, the PFS II grant program funded 12 states and jurisdictions from across the nation to address two of the nation’s top substance misuse prevention priorities: underage drinking among individuals ages 12 to 20, and prescription drug misuse and abuse among individuals ages 12 to 25.
According to Director Chelsey Goddard, the cohort’s small size, combined with its geographic diversity, presented CAPT with a unique challenge. “It didn’t make sense to have CAPT’s five resource team’s work exclusively with the handful of grantees in their respective regions. It wasn’t a good use of resources and their efforts would have been duplicative,” she explains.
Instead, staff from across the CAPT system have been collaborating to design and deliver a multi-tiered menu of services varied enough to meet both the shared needs of the group as a whole, and the specific needs of individual grantees. Cohort-wide services include an online resource portal, a PFS II email list, and 2 to 3 national events each month—all virtual—on topics ranging from binge drinking to epidemiological workgroup revitalization to implementing media strategies. These cohort-wide services are supported by grantee-specific technical assistance focused on skills building and application.
According to Goddard, taking a “cohort approach” to service delivery also makes it easier to spot areas of overlap and opportunities to broker relationships. “We can see what grantees have in common; where they can learn from one another,” she explains. “Ultimately, our grantees learn far more from one another than they do from us. Our job is to help them connect. And then to help them apply what they’ve learned—be it from the experts, research literature, or from one another.”
Since May 2013, CAPT events for the PFS II cohort have included the following:
- Peer-sharing calls on state media campaigns, improving the function of state epidemiological outcomes workgroups (SEOWs), and data challenges
- Evaluator “roundtables” to explore evaluation-related technical assistance needs
- The first in a two-part webinar series on binge drinking among adolescents, young adults, and college populations
CAPT also plans to launch a webinar series on the topic of prescription drug misuse and abuse.
“With the PFS IIs, we were handed a unique opportunity to explore what it means to be a national prevention system,” says Goddard. “As a result, we’ve gotten better at leveraging resources, at tapping the strengths and experience of our staff, to collaborate more effectively. We’ve learned a lot, and look forward to applying this approach, when appropriate, to future cohorts of grantees.”
Learn more about SAMHSA’s PFS grant programs.