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Step 2: Build Capacity

Step 2 of the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) helps prevention professionals identify resources and build readiness to address substance use and misuse.

The second step of the SPF involves building and mobilizing local resources and readiness to address identified prevention needs. A community needs both human and structural resources to establish and maintain a prevention system that can respond effectively to local problems. It also needs people who have the motivation and willingness—that is, the readiness—to commit local resources to address identified prevention needs.

Why? Because prevention programs and interventions that are well-supported with adequate resources and readiness are more likely to succeed.

Learn more about resources and readiness.

Key Components of Capacity Building

Raise Stakeholder Awareness

There are two benefits to raising awareness of a community’s substance use problem(s). First, it can help you increase local readiness for prevention: people need to be aware of a problem before stepping forward to address it. Raising awareness can also help you garner the valuable resources needed to move your prevention efforts forward.

The following are some strategies for raising community awareness:

  • Meet one‐on‐one with public opinion leaders
  • Ask stakeholders to share information in their own sectors
  • Submit articles to local newspapers, church bulletins, club newsletters, etc.
  • Share information on relevant websites and social media outlets
  • Host community events to share information about and discuss the problem
  • Convene focus groups to get input on prevention plans

It’s always helpful to think “outside the box” when looking for new ways to raise community awareness. For example, the local high school may have a media club that may be willing to create a video about your prevention efforts. Which individuals and groups in your community could help you reach out, spread the word, and get others involved?

Engage Diverse Stakeholders

Engaging a broad range of stakeholders is key to unlocking a community’s capacity for prevention. Effective prevention depends on the involvement of diverse partners—from residents to service providers to community leaders. These people can help you share prevention information and resources, raise awareness of critical substance use problems, build support for prevention efforts, and ensure that prevention activities are appropriate for the populations they serve.

Build relationships with those who support your prevention efforts as well as with those who do not. Recognize that potential community partners will have varying levels of interest and/or availability to get involved. One person may be willing to help out with a specific task, while another may be willing to assume a leadership role. Keep in mind that as people come to understand the importance of your prevention efforts, they are likely to become more engaged.

Consider involving the following community sectors in your prevention initiative:

  • Local businesses
  • Law enforcement
  • University and research institutions
  • Healthcare providers
  • Neighborhood and cultural associations
  • Local government
  • Youth‐serving agencies and institutions

Strengthen Collaborative Efforts

Substance use and misuse are complex problems that require the energy, expertise, and experience of multiple players, working together across disciplines, to address. Collaboration can help you tap the resources available in your community, extend the reach of your own resources by making them available to new audiences, and ensure that your prevention efforts are culturally competent. By working in partnership with community members and involving them in all aspects of prevention planning, implementation, and evaluation, you demonstrate respect for the people you serve and increase your own capacity to provide prevention services that meet genuine needs, build on strengths, and produce positive outcomes.

Partnering with others requires deliberate and strategic planning. You will want to be clear on the purpose of the collaboration, determine how you plan to achieve that purpose, and establish clear roles and responsibilities for all involved. Over time, you will also want to check in regularly with partners to ensure that the relationship continues to meet their needs. Even those collaborative relationships that begin easily and organically need to be nourished in order to stay healthy.

CAPT’s "Prevention Collaboration in Action toolkit contains a wide selection of stories and tools to help build prevention professionals’ capacity to initiate, strengthen, and maintain effective collaborations to prevent substance misuse and improve health outcomes.

Prepare the Prevention Workforce

The success of any prevention effort depends on the knowledge and skills of the people at the forefront. Workforce development is more than just preparing people to complete specific tasks. Ensuring that prevention professionals and stakeholders have the right credentials, training, experience, cultural competence, and expertise to address the substance use problem(s) in a community is an important component of building capacity.

CAPT’s Prevention Training Now! online training portal offers a variety of free online self-paced courses for practitioners interested in planning, implementing, and evaluating effective efforts to prevent substance use and misuse.

Publications and Resources

Access more CAPT tools and other learning resources.

Last Updated: 07/18/2016