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Media Release – August 29, 2018 –

Youth First, Inc. is helping the state of Indiana tackle the opioid epidemic and other drug problems by expanding its evidence-based model of prevention to more schools. Jim McClelland, the Governor’s Director of Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement, announced the partnership Wednesday during a series of news conferences.

“Youth First is one of the state’s key allies in the battle against substance abuse,” said McClelland. “Indiana must attack the opioid epidemic on all fronts, not just through more treatment options and better law enforcement, but also by investing in long-term solutions that reduce drug use among young people.”

McClelland’s office awarded $811,901 to Youth First to grow prevention services in 15 additional Indiana schools across six counties. Partnering schools and private donors in each of the communities are also supporting the expansion.

“Youth First embeds master’s level social workers in schools to become specialized mentors for at-risk students and skilled prevention coaches for parents and teachers,” said Parri O. Black, President & CEO of Youth First, Inc.  “The state’s investment adds 10 more Youth First Social Workers and prevention programs to schools in Daviess, Monroe, Morgan, Orange, Posey and Warrick counties.”

Youth First Social Workers and prevention programs focus on building healthy relationships, fostering readiness to make positive changes, and developing resiliency and other life skills. Research shows that these are the keys to delaying and reducing youth substance use and related risky behaviors.

A decade of data collection and independent evaluations confirm that Youth First’s approach decreases stress and increases skills that help young people succeed in school and in life. The organization’s positive outcomes are driving growth with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the growing social and emotional needs of students.

Youth First’s programs and services are now accessible to over 38,000 young people, plus parents and teachers, in 75 schools and 10 counties, up from 58 schools in seven counties last year. The growth is also supported by another state grant through the Division of Mental Health and Addiction that increases services in Evansville-Vanderburgh, North Gibson, Mt. Vernon, and Warrick County schools. In addition, Youth First’s work relies on the investment of many community and private donors, including Lilly Endowment grants recently awarded to several schools.

addiction-recovery

By Teresa Mercer, Courier & Press, Feb. 2, 2016 –

If you are a parent, grandparent or guardian, you know that raising a child can bring challenges, struggles and fear of the unknown.

There will also be good times, however. Children of any age can bring many happy and proud moments. Many will reach milestones such as completing kindergarten, finishing junior high and graduating from high school. Attending dances or proms, getting a driver’s license, entering the workforce and going off to college will be other new experiences for many.

There are many things for a parent to worry about. You may wonder how your child will perform in school, whether they will struggle socially, if they will experiment with drugs or alcohol or if they will experience issues such as depression, anxiety, etc.

Today’s world has changed. Social media, the Internet, movies, games and music create opportunities and the need for immediate gratification among our youth. They are exposed to and familiar with drugs and alcohol like never before.

As a school social worker, many times I have listened to parents say, “I raised and taught my child well. I only hope they take these things with them.”

All parents want the best for their children. They try to provide love, guidance, nurturing, morals, beliefs and values. But still many young people will make the decision to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and there will be some who are on the road to addiction.

Addiction within a family is a challenge, especially for the parent. Many times they will blame themselves. The “what if’s,” “should haves” and “could haves” can really take a toll, but no parent wants to give up on their child.

Leah Davis, M.Ed., outlines some ways to help prevent your child from becoming involved in drugs and alcohol:

1. Don’t give in to their demands. Just because they want something doesn’t mean you should get it every time. Don’t give in to their tantrums.

2. Don’t always rescue them from the consequences of their negative behavior. Don’t allow them to make excuses or blame others for their poor decisions or choices.

3. Don’t model poor principles such as lying and cheating.

4. Show affection to your child. Kids of all ages need hugs and time together. Don’t you? They also need to know it is ok to express their feelings. Let them build self-esteem by experiencing interaction with others through sports, clubs, etc.

5. Don’t focus on the negatives or weaknesses of their personality or habits. Praise them as much as you can. Take an interest in their ideas and accomplishments.

6. Rather than passing judgment, show them forgiveness, understanding, patience and love when they make poor choices or decisions. Let them know you make mistakes too. Turn a mistake into a learning opportunity.

7. Don’t demand perfection, but don’t be afraid to set rules and expectations. Let them know their ideas and questions are respected by giving them the opportunity to talk while you listen. Acknowledge their need for independence, but let them know you have to set rules.

8. Don’t be unpredictable. Have consistent routines in the home such as eating dinner together. Be consistent with your reactions to behaviors. If it’s not OK today, it’s not OK tomorrow.

9. Don’t be uninformed about drug and alcohol use. Discuss your attitudes and beliefs.

10. Don’t ignore your own value as a human being. It’s important for you to model good behaviors and healthy ways to cope and communicate. Avoid resentments and negativity that can lead to self-destructive behavior.

Remember, it’s never too late to intervene with someone struggling with an addiction. Seek professional help or reach out to your child’s Youth First school social worker. But it’s equally important to be proactive with behaviors, ideas and actions that can start at home.