The Strategic Prevention Framework, or the SPF, is a process that we use for all of our prevention programs and projects at GUIDE. In fact, it is used by prevention providers all over the state. That is why we have been sharing the steps of this process with you through our SPF Series blog posts over the past few months. Before we wrap up the series with Evaluation, we want to take some time to cover SUSTAINABILITY.
Sustainability is more than just keeping a prevention program or project running. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reminds us that when considering sustainability, it is important to think about multiple factors that contribute to a program’s successful outcomes and make an effort to sustain them. These include:
- Existing stable prevention infrastructure (e.g., the SPF, funding and staff);
- Available training systems (e.g., in-house trainings, webinars, professional development and training from SAMHSA, CADCA and OJJDP); and
- Community support (e.g., coalitions, key stakeholders, Board of Directors, youth action teams or youth advisory boards, community members and local government officials).
Take a moment and think about your prevention programs. Do you have processes set in place at your organization that need to be sustained? Are there certain factors that need to be improved in order to contribute to making your outcomes more successful?
Now, let’s take a journey down the road to sustainability and cover six ways you can increase sustainability with your programs and projects.
MAP OUT YOUR JOURNEY. Before you start a program or project, set aside time to discuss sustainability with your organization. Don’t wait until the last minute. You need to know where you’re headed and have all of your passengers in the car before the journey begins.
GET INSURED! Are your key stakeholders and/or partners invested in your program or project? The more you involve them, the more likely it is that they will support your prevention activities over time. It’s a good idea to involve your partners early on and show your appreciation for their contributions as much as possible. Engaging several partners allows for increased discussion during the beginning stages of your program or project. Additionally, this creates enhanced collaboration and potential opportunities to share costs with others.
BUILD YOUR CARPOOL GROUP. Identify program champions who are passionate about your cause and are willing to be active in promoting your prevention programs and projects. This can impact sustainability by increasing awareness of your efforts in the community.
LOOK OUT FOR OTHERS ON THE ROAD! Over time, it’s important to invest in capacity building by showing others how to go through the SPF process to effectively plan, implement and evaluate their prevention programs and projects and create the systems needed to support their efforts for the long haul.
CONSIDER CHANGING YOUR OIL! Remember to evaluate your program and project outcomes. Engaging in this process will allow you to decide which activities need to continue and which need to change or stop entirely. It’s important to focus on only continuing programs that prove to be effective and have positive outcomes.
EXPLORE THE OPEN ROAD. Continually identify your resources and utilize as many of them as you can (i.e., human, financial, material and technological). New resources can impact efficiency, funding and your overall ability to sustain your programs and projects.
FULL SPEED AHEAD! The road to sustainability may seem long, but the journey is worthwhile! You will begin to observe the changes you are able to create in your community and gradually they will make a long-term impact. Keep celebrating the small wins along the way with your key stakeholders and partners and enjoy the ride.
Don’t miss our last SPF Series blog post on Evaluation!