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Strategic Prevention Framework

 In 2020, Collaborating for Youth secured a five year Strategic Prevention Framework grant.  Prevention planners are pressed to put in place solutions to urgent substance misuse problems facing their communities. But research and
experience have shown that prevention must begin with an understanding of these complex
behavioral health problems within their complex environmental contexts; only then can
communities establish and implement effective plans to address substance misuse. 
To facilitate this understanding, SAMHSA developed the Strategic Prevention
Framework (SPF). The five steps and two guiding principles of the SPF offer
prevention planners a comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing
the substance misuse and related behavioral health problems facing their states
and communities.
The SPF includes these five steps:

1 Assessment: Identify local prevention needs based on data (e g , What is the problem?)
2 Capacity: Build local resources and readiness to address prevention needs (e g , What do you
have to work with?)
3 Planning: Find out what works to address prevention needs and how to do it well (e g , What
should you do and how should you do it?)
4 Implementation: Deliver evidence-based programs and practices as intended (e g , How can
you put your plan into action?)
5 Evaluation: Examine the process and outcomes of programs and practices (e g , Is your plan

The SPF is also guided by two cross-cutting principles that should be integrated into each of the steps
that comprise it:

  • Cultural competence. The ability of an individual or organization to understand and

interact effectively with people who have different values, lifestyles, and traditions based on their
distinctive heritage and social relationships.

  • Sustainability. The process of building an adaptive and effective system that achieves and
    maintains desired long-term results.

The SPF has several defining characteristics that set it apart from other strategic planning processes.  Most notably, it is:
  • Dynamic and interactive. Assessment is the starting point, but planners will return to this step again and again as their community’s substance misuse problems and capacities evolve. Communities may also engage in activities related to multiple steps simultaneously. For example, planners may need to find and mobilize additional capacity to support implementation once a program or practice is underway. For these reasons, the SPF is a circular rather than a linear model.

  • Data-driven. The SPF is designed to help planners gather and use data to guide all prevention decisions—from identifying which substance misuse problems to address in their communities, to choosing the most appropriate ways to address these problems, to determining whether communities are making progress.

  • Reliant on and encourages a team approach. Each step of the SPF requires—and greatly benefits from—the participation of diverse community partners. The individuals an institutions involved in prevention efforts may change as the initiative evolves, but the need for prevention partners will remain constant.

Information on the Strategic Prevention Framework provided by:

SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  2019.  "A Guide to SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework"

Sustainability &
Cultural Competence
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