Ensure the sustainability of prevention outcomes by building stakeholder support for your program, showing and sharing results, and obtaining steady funding.
The sustainability of prevention outcomes is often seen as the culmination of program planning and implementation. However, that assumption will place your program at a disadvantage. Effective programs plan for sustainability from the beginning of program design. Sustainability should be revisited and revised throughout the life of a program.
The ultimate goal is to sustain prevention outcomes, not programs. Programs that produce positive outcomes should be continued. Programs that are ineffective should not be sustained.
Key activities involved in ensuring sustainability involve building support, showing results, and obtaining continuing funding. All of these activities require time, people, and ongoing planning and evaluation.
Additionally, SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) emphasizes sustaining the prevention process itself, recognizing that practitioners will return to each step of the process, again and again, as communities face evolving problems. Learn more about applying the SPF.
Build Ownership Among Stakeholders
Program stakeholders represent a diverse group of people, who may include community members, state health department officials, other prevention professionals, and government officials. Involve them early on and find meaningful ways to keep them involved. Stakeholders who are involved in initial assessment activities are more likely to support prevention efforts that stem from the assessment.
Sharing Results Yields Funding
CAPT grantees are required to produce quantifiable results of their prevention programs. While data collection must be ongoing, the analysis and accurate interpretation of data represents a key step of the SPF. Learn about Step 5 of the SPF: Evaluation.
Grant programs such as Partners for Success (PFS) and the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF SIG) recognize the value of evaluation and sustainability. They offer performance incentives for grantees who meet or exceed program goals and provide data that confirms successes. Learn more about SAMHSA’s prevention grants and support for grantees.
Even if your evaluation process reveals that you weren’t able to meet all of your goals, this information is also valuable. Failures and challenges that emerge from the evaluation process allow you to see what worked and what didn’t. This information will help you highlight problem areas in the program and where to make necessary changes. More importantly, this data can help you decide if the program or certain elements of your program should continue.
Track and Tout Outcomes
A well-designed and executed evaluation helps you determine which activities to keep and which to discontinue. Evaluating your outcomes can also help demonstrate the program’s effectiveness, and sharing these outcomes with the community encourages members to spread the word about the program and may increase public interest, participation, and potentially funding.
Identify Program Champions
Find people on your team and in the community willing to speak about and promote your prevention program efforts. These champions will help represent your program in the media, and help you develop promotional materials for the public and to attract officials as supporters.
Invest in Capacity
This investment begins with applying for grants and becoming eligible to participate in training and technical assistance activities through CAPT. Use CAPT tools and other learning resources to teach others within your organization how to assess needs, build resources, and effectively plan and implement prevention programs. These tools can also be used to create the systems necessary to continue prevention activities over time.
Identify Diverse Resources
Resources may be human, financial, material, and technological. Assess which resources already exist in your community. SAMHSA data can help inform policy, measure program impact, and improve prevention outcomes. Search for CAPT video interviews or read grantee stories to learn how existing programs deal with real-world challenges.
Publications and Resources
- Planning for Sustainability
- Factors that Contribute to Capacity Building and Sustainability
- CAPT Partners With Iowa SPF SIG to Support Local-Level Sustainability Planning
- State-Based T/TA Systems Advance Prevention Sustainability Video – 2012