The Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family seeks to educate, empower and offer statewide scalable solutions for Arizona’s youth, parents and caregivers to prevent substance use. To this end, in 2016 GOYFF developed the Healthy Families-Healthy Youth (HFHY) Program, in collaboration with substance abuse professionals. The HFHY Program is a school-based substance abuse prevention program for middle school-aged children. The purpose of the program is to encourage and increase communication about substance use between parents and their adolescent children by developing a plan for the adolescent to avoid substance use.
The program is designed for 7th grade students and their parents, with the goals of increasing knowledge of the effects of drug use, improving youth and parent(s)/caregiver(s) family norms, and increasing awareness of current drug trends. The program format was designed using a peer-based educational approach. Adults and youth are provided educational opportunities in an age-appropriate, culturally sensitive and comprehensive manner to help youth make positive choices. Healthy Families-Healthy Youth helps to foster and cultivate healthy student choices with regards to substance use through education and outreach.
Research shows the average age for starting to use an addictive substance in Arizona is 13. With nine out of ten youth smoking, drinking or using other drugs prior to age 18, it is clear that meaningful, substance abuse prevention education must be provided to our youth at earlier ages. Substance use and associated risk-taking behaviors are driving forces underscoring poor academic performance, rising youth violence and ultimately, reduced life outcomes among Arizona’s youth. According to the findings from the Substance Abuse Prevention Programming Inventory (SAPPI) survey few schools in Arizona currently provide substance abuse prevention programming to students, and those that are able to provide programming have only started within the past one to two years. When compared with data from the Arizona Youth Survey (AYS), it appears that there is a substantial gap in Arizona schools in terms of the need for prevention programming and the accessibility of these programs. In 2016, the HFHY Program was pilot tested with 15 schools. In 2017, the program was expanded to a total of 53 schools, with at least one school in each of the 15 Arizona counties participating. Similar to the previous implementation, schools were selected by each County Superintendent. Participating schools had teams of trained facilitators and coordinators to deliver the program. Although the curriculum delivery was strictly structured, schools were given some discretion to tailor their programs to meet the needs of their communities. School coordinators were responsible for all recruitment, advertising and logistics activities associated with the program. Coordinators were responsible for determining the time and date in which the final event took place. Most schools chose to implement the program on a single evening. The event (s) took place in the schools, after school or on Saturdays.