Executive Summary

Executive Summary

Executive Summary - Clatsop County

Commission on Children and Families

Comprehensive Plan Update

April 2010

 

General Overview of the County

 

Clatsop County is a rural county located on Oregon's northwest coast and is named for the Clatsop Indians. The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805-06 here before starting their journey back east. Clatsop County consists of 873 square miles, 26 miles of coastline and 37,440 people, 8,028 of those being under 18 years. (The large majority of the population is of European descent with 93.1% of residents identifying themselves on the 2000 census as White, 4.5% as Latino or Hispanic and 2.4% as other.)  More than 80% of the land mass is forested. The Pacific Ocean forms the western border of the county, with the Columbia River forming the boundary to the North. Geographically the county is large and has both cities and very small towns.  Along the coastline are the tourist-oriented communities of Seaside, Gearhart, Cannon Beach and Arch Cape with residents who own vacation homes and the service industry that caters to them. Along the Columbia River are the cities of Astoria, Warrenton, Hammond and the small, rural communities of Knappa, Jewell, and Westport.

 

The previous resource-based economies of timber and fishing are giving way to more diverse sources of income.  New employment is primarily in the service sector as tourism has risen. The three largest industries are: leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation and utilities, and manufacturing. The unemployment rate in February of 2010 was 8.5%, lower than both the U.S. rate at 9.7% and Oregon at 10.5%. The Median household income according to the 2000 census lists Clatsop County as $36,301 compared to the national median of $41,994.

 

Update Process

 

State and local epidemiological and other data, in addition to the most current plans for Juvenile Crime Prevention, Alcohol & Drug Prevention and Treatment, Mental Health, Public Health and the priorities for the Public Safety Coordinating Council were all reviewed.  Early Childhood does not have a current plan but the Commission conducted an information gathering session with them on the strengths, needs, gaps and barriers to early childhood education and services in 2009.  Our County Prevention Specialist and partners from our Reduce Underage Drinking Task Force conducted 22 key informant interviews related to our Focus Issue in the fall of 2009, and our local direct line staff provided information on needs, gaps, barriers and strengths in August 2009. The list of twenty identified community issues from the 2008 Plan went out to a wide list of community partners, service providers and a few lay citizens.  We had 35 respondents.  In addition it was shared with our Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, Reduce Underage Drinking Task Force, Parent Training Advisory Committee, Early Childhood Advisory Committee and all County Youth Service Teams.  The only sizable ethnic diversity in the county is Spanish speaking families, officially 6% of the population but estimated to be a higher, 9%.  Ninety percent of county residents self report as Caucasian or White.  We did not attempt to gather input from the Hispanic community or specifically target youth for this update, but intend to do so in the coming year.    Go Girls

 

Juvenile Crime Prevention Plan

 

Clatsop County’s Juvenile Crime Prevention Plan supports strategies and programs designed to focus on reducing the risk factors that put youth at risk of delinquency.  The Plan is funded through the State Commission on Children and Families for prevention services, which are defined as services delivered to youth to prevent their involvement in delinquent behavior regardless of their legal status.  The Oregon Youth Authority funds basic services in the Plan to prevent further intrusion of youth offenders into the juvenile justice system by supporting a continuum of graduated sanctions in the juvenile department services. The target population is youth 12-18 who have demonstrated factors which put them at risk of delinquency or who have been referred to the Juvenile Department for a first, low-level offense.

 

Surveys were sent to members of the community, school, and collaborative partners; including local law enforcement, mental health, and drug and alcohol services. The recommendations were to continue the programs that follow.  The PSCC and CCF both gave approval to this plan.

 

 

The Clatsop County JCP Prevention Services include:

 

·        Caring Adult Developing Youth (CADY) Mentoring Program

A mentoring program for youth age 10-17.  The program matches adult mentors with youth who have similar interests.  The adult shares life experiences, supports goals, and encourages the youth to feel success in school and the community.  The mentor and youth meet once a week to establish a relationship that focuses on developing the youth’s character, capabilities, and potential through enjoyable activities.

 

The high level outcome for this program is the community focus issue, which is to decrease teen alcohol use through the intermediate outcome of a positive relationship with an adult.  This program has consistently exceeded its outcomes for the last two bienniums by reporting that 75% of youth in a CADY mentoring relationship experienced a positive relationship with an adult.

 

The Clatsop County JCP Basic Services include:

·        Community service work crew supervisor for offender youth

Restitution is a process by which offenders are held partially or fully accountable for the financial losses suffered by the victims of their crimes. Community service is work performed by an offender for the benefit of the community. It offers a way for the offender to be held accountable and to repair some of the harm caused by his or her criminal conduct.

 

·        Diversion/First Offender Program for first time offenders

 

The First Offender Program is a “court diversion” program for juveniles who have been referred to the juvenile department for violations, first time misdemeanors and non-violent offenses to “divert” away from further penetration into the juvenile justice system. Juvenile Diversion programs can help youth avoid the stigma and labels associated with a juvenile court record while offering them accountability for their actions.  The goal of Juvenile Diversion programs is to reduce the rates of youth being rearrested by providing immediate sanctions for accountability and service referral for education, treatment and programs to address identified risk factors leading to juvenile crime. 

Youth are assessed through the Juvenile Crime Prevention Risk Assessment to determine their risk level to re-offend designed to identify risks that have contributed to their offense. The Diversion/First offender program holds youth accountable for their actions by sanctioning behavior and providing direction through referrals to community services and at the same time, generally avoiding formal court processing. The concept of diversion allows youth to address criminal behaviors before the youth’s behavior escalates to the level requiring court intervention. Sanctions include the options of community service, writing letters of apology to victims, parents, or store managers, writing an essay on an assigned topic, meeting curfew requirements, attending school regularly, improving grades and/or finding part-time jobs.

 

It is generally agreed that the lowest appropriate level of a child’s involvement in the juvenile justice system provides the most beneficial long-term outcome for the child. The Juvenile Counselor monitors the juvenile conduct and insures the completion of all sanctions and conditions within the appropriate time period. Successful completion of the program guarantees the juvenile will not have a court record for the offense.

 

 

Changes to Community Issues

 

A survey addressing our 2008 Community Issues was sent to our providers, community partners, coalitions, schools and other community members.  They were asked to review the previous list for: issues that were no longer applicable, new issues that should be added, what they believed to be the greatest needs, the most common barriers, areas where we have made improvements, the strengths of the service delivery system, and anything else they believed to be pertinent.

 

New Needs/Issues

While in 2008 the community felt our needs around hunger were being met, currently we are one of the hungriest counties in the state.  There has been a 50% increase in the request for food boxes over the last three years. The consensus was that hunger needed to be added to the list.  Positive Youth Development, specifically youth engagement in families, schools and communities was mentioned, so we have adjusted our language to be more specific. 

 

Improvements

Several people mentioned improvements to our local transportation system, with additional lines having been added to Knappa, Westport and Seaside. They also felt there had been improvements in mental health access, especially in the schools, but commented on the continuing difficulty of finding qualified mental health clinicians for children in our remote location. Visibility of parenting programs, early literacy, and other education to support parents was also mentioned.

 

Barriers/Gaps

 Lack of resources, and knowledge of how to access those resources, was listed as the most common barrier, which is true in many rural areas.  Partners have spent some time in planning around how to make the process easier and more streamlined for clients, even looking at co-location of services, but the economy has made this project even more difficult to move forward on.  Language was also a commonly listed barrier. There is also a gap in services for domestic violence victims without children. 

 

Strengths of the System

 The care and compassion of service providers was considered a strength, as well as our community’s willingness to work together to solve tough issues.  SmileOur parenting education efforts were also mentioned, as well as the expansion of Head Start. There is strong collaboration among the schools and agencies both formally through YST and other groups, as well as informally. 

 

Greatest Needs

 Feedback from community service providers indicates that one of the highest needs of Clatsop County residents is affordable housing. Clatsop housing research compiled for the 2007 Housing Solutions Conference points to the need for “workforce housing” in our county. That is, housing that is affordable for working families. In Clatsop County, housing and real estate prices are inflated by the presence of second homes and vacation rentals, which drives up rent to an unaffordable level for many working residents. According to the most recent data from the Oregon Housing Alliance, a family would need to earn an hourly wage of more than $12 in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in this county. This is $4 more per hour than the Oregon minimum wage, the amount earned by many working people who are employed in the hospitality and leisure industry.

  

While Clatsop County has some workforce housing projects, (Wapiti owned by Clatsop County Housing Authority and Hilltop Apartments owned by Clatsop Community Action), the need for affordable housing for working people continues to exceed the resources available to help families achieve long-term stability. As an antipoverty agency that comes into contact with many people struggling to make ends meet, Clatsop Community Action (CCA) hopes to shine a light on the issues of housing affordability and homelessness in the county. Most recently, CCA increased the visibility of homelessness through Project Homeless Connect, a one-day event connecting homeless and near homeless individuals to needed resources and services. CCA is anxious to facilitate a collaborative effort of government, social services, business, and citizens to address the barriers to permanent housing through a “10 Year Plan to End Homelessness”.

 

In addition, people believed that living wage jobs, parenting education, activities for youth, reducing underage drinking, access to health care, teen pregnancy prevention and teen parenting services, improvements to childcare, etc. were all important.  In essence, they believed our list was appropriate and needed to be maintained.  No one suggested removing any of the issues.

 

They are: 1) Need to improve services for Spanish Speaking families, children, and youth, 2) Drug abuse prevention and treatment or youth, 3) Child abuse prevention, 4) Increased activities for youth, 5) Affordable housing, 6) Living wage jobs, 7) Reducing the number of pregnant moms who use tobacco and other drugs, 8) Services to improve family functioning and domestic violence, 9) Need for more adult mentors for youth, 10) Early literacy and childhood education, 11) Access to healthcare, 12) Teen pregnancy prevention, 13) Services and support systems for homeless and runaway youth, 14) Need for increased opportunities for after-school age care, 15) Access to mental health services for parents, children and youth 16) Access to healthcare services, especially dental, 17) Reduce the number of adults and teens that use tobacco, 18) Underage drinking and the community norms around alcohol use, 19) improvements to childhood care and education, 20) food insecurity

 

While the community as a whole has identified these issues as areas of concern and efforts are being made to improve strategies around them, there are two areas that partners agreed were the ones we should focus our efforts on from 2008-2013.  They are: Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment for Youth, and Child Abuse Prevention.

 

 

Focus Issue: Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment - Youth

In looking at current conditions, findings from the Oregon Healthy Teens (OHT) survey data show that is alcohol remains the most commonly used drug by Clatsop County youth.  The 2007-2008 Oregon Healthy Teens data reflects a decline in underage drinking.  Eighth grade 30-day use has dropped from 38 percent to 27 percent and eleventh grade has seen a slight decrease from 53 percent to 51 percent.  Binge drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting) has also declined, most notable is that eighth grade binge drinking has experienced a 44 percent drop; from 14.9 percent reported in 2005-2006 to 8.3 percent in 2007-2008.  Eleventh grade binge drinking rates have declined from 38 percent to 31 percent.  The average age of first use remains constant with eighth graders reporting the first time they had more than a couple sips of alcohol was at age eleven and eleventh graders reporting first use at age 13.  Most concerning is that hard liquor continues to be the drink of choice for both eighth and eleventh graders, which combined with binge drinking, creates a dangerous risk for alcohol poisoning and overdose.  We will use this data to adjust our strategies to include targeting parents with information about cabinet locks or bottle locks for their liquor supply.

 

Parents continue to influence the use of, and access to, alcohol. 

While most students report that their parents would think it was wrong for them to use alcohol (95 percent of eighth grade and 82 percent of eleventh grade) the home is still the most common place for youth to access alcohol, with or without parent permission.  Nineteen percent of eighth graders report getting alcohol from parents - with and without

permission.  Twenty eight and a half percent of eleventh graders report the same.  In an effort to give parents the knowledge and skills to best prevent their children from using alcohol, the Reduce Underage Drinking Task Force targets its media and outreach efforts towards parents and adults.   In addition, the Strengthening Families Program for parents of youth ages 10-14 provides parents with skills to show love and set limits with their adolescent children. 

 

While overall rates of youth alcohol use have declined, girls in Clatsop

County continue to drink at higher rates than boys (43 percent vs. 33

percent in eighth grade and 57 percent vs. 50 percent in eleventh

grade).  Girls report more binge drinking, drinking at younger ages, and easier access to alcohol than boys. 

 

Gaps in this area included gender specific programming for girls in our 2008 plan, so we decided that our strategic approach should be service delivery improvements; developing gender specific services and plan to begin implementation in the Fall of 2008, which we did. 

 

Friendly PEERsuasion, a group-based substance abuse prevention program, is being implemented in early middle school and late elementary school grades across the county. The first year of implementation shows positive change in the four categories evaluated: knowledge, attitudes and values, behavior and support.  While there has been a positive change across all categories, the most significant increase in positive change is in the category of new knowledge. Programs such as Allies in Action and Girl's Circle compliment the lessons learned in PEERsuasion and provide a holistic approach to working with young women.

 

Notably we have made progress with our rates for girls dropping 29% from 2006 to 2008 in their reports of 30-day use, from 38% in 2006 to 27% in 2008.  Binge drinking among girls has also declined by 53% from 17% in 2006 to 8% in 2008. However, we need to continue our efforts.

 

In addition, the Juvenile Department reports that substance abuse related crimes have dropped over 37% from 2005 to 2009. 

 

We have several other community strategies that we are currently implementing in this Focus Issue. One such strategy is Project Northland, another evidence-based curriculum delivered to boys and girls in the middle school grades 6-8 with proven outcomes around the reduction of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. Two of our schools are on track to deliver this program with fidelity; we have made progress with one other since January of 2008, one school has changed over to Project Alert in place of Project Northland and we continue to support the schools with implementation issues where appropriate.  In addition, one high school is considering beginning implementation of Class Action, Project Northland Curriculum that we have hoped to implement, but have not been able to so far.

 

We chose Project Northland because of its reduction in youth rates of tobacco use in addition to other drugs.  Clatsop County has high rates of tobacco use among both youth and adults.  The smoking rate among Clatsop County adults is significantly higher than the Oregon State average.  Approximately 26% of Clatsop County adults regularly smoke cigarettes, compared to the Oregon adult average of 20%.  Tobacco use among eighth grade students is above both state and national averages (14% in Clatsop County versus 9% in Oregon and 8% nationally).  Approximately 25% of 11th grade students in Clatsop County report smoking cigarettes in the past month as compared with an Oregon average of 17%.  Tobacco use in adolescence is associated with many other health risk behaviors, including higher risk sexual behavior and use of alcohol and other drugs.

  

We also have a very active Reduce Underage Drinking Task Force that consists of many partners, including local law enforcement that regularly conducts minor decoy to ensure compliance with state law and help send the message to local retailers that we have a no tolerance policy with respect to sales to minors.  In addition, a new Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition has formed, spun off from the RUDTF.  This group has been using the Strategic Prevention Framework to prepare the coalition for growth and the recommendation of members to apply for a federal drug free communities grant in the spring of 2011.  In addition, a prescription drug sub-committee has formed and was active in the statewide drug take back that happened in March.  We were the only county in Oregon to have three sites to drop off medication situated all around the county for ease of access.  Other strategies include a new juvenile drug court, and plans to increase activities in the after school hours for youth.  The commission has also supported the evidence based parenting education program, Strengthening Families, since 2003 and was involved in its expansion last biennium. With the reduction of those funds this biennium, CCF stepped back up to the plate to ensure the program sustained for the next two years, although at reduced service levels. Over 75% of the youth who attend this parenting education class with their parents report an increase in life skills, problem solving skills, and resistance skills, which help to protect them from substance abuse.

 

Gaps in 2008 in this Focus Issue included access to alcohol and drug and mental health counseling.  Both our county contracted agencies were committed to providing services to students in the schools.  LifeWorks NW with a grant from United Way brought A & D treatment into the schools at no cost to students and families.  Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare also was able to allocate funds to provide some services to students in the schools on a limited basis and hopes to continue.

 

By far the largest barrier is that the community has a very high norm of substance abuse, in particular related to alcohol. New restaurants, bars and brewpubs open frequently, increasing the access to alcohol for all residents.  Many of our festivals and events, even those that are family focused, often include alcohol.  Clatsop County has a high ratio of acceptance for both off premise and on premise alcohol licensees.  The number of licensees in Clatsop County is the second highest in the state.  Clatsop County residents spend $147.58 per capita in liquor sales, again the second highest figure in the state.

The state could still help with this barrier by working with us to develop some kind of community campaign around underage drinking.

 

 

Focus Issue: Child Abuse Prevention

Current information and data trends show that we still have work to do to protect children and support families in Clatsop County.  50.4% of the youth taking our survey in 2008 indicated that family problems were one the top concerns facing youth today.  Child Abuse and Neglect rates were at a ten-year low in 2002, but have climbed by small degrees since.  Our county rate for Recurrence of Maltreatment, 15.4, was significantly worse than the state average in 2008, which is a change from the previous years. Key informant interviews from 2008 including the local judges said we should continue to support families in gaining the skills to parent successfully and improve their parent - child communication skills. 

 

The Commission and partners have chosen child abuse prevention as a priority for over seven years.  Continued support for families to learn the skills necessary to positively parent their children is important to the community.  We will use the strategic approach of service delivery improvements with the specific strategy to develop culturally specific services.  We have made strides in purchasing parent education curriculums in Spanish, but still struggle to offer those programs in a culturally competent way, including days and times that work for this population.  In our last plan we had come to the conclusion that we need to develop a sustainability plan for our programs and applied to the Ford Family Foundation for a technical assistance grant to do so.  We received that grant and took our Parent Training Advisory Committee through the process.  Now we have branded our group to better advertise and draw parents in. We are also exploring how social networking and marketing can help us achieve our goals. We still feel a large gap in this area is a coordinator to oversee all our programs, and we will be looking at ways to make this happen as part of our strategic planning process.

  

The parenting education curriculums we are using include: Make Parenting a Pleasure, 1234 Parents/1234 Padres, Strengthening Families 10-14, Active Parenting Now, Parenting the First Three Years, Becoming a Love and Logic Parent, and Parenting Now.  The first three of which we will be offering in Spanish.  In addition we are using the Nurturing Parent Program within our Teen Parent Program in the schools. All programs are based on research and evaluation.  Parents completing the programs will report that they have improved their parent child interaction skills and increased their ability toFamilias Fuertes find positive ways to guide and discipline their children.  Additional strategies related to this Focus Issue are CASA and Healthy Start, an early literacy program called MotherRead/FatherRead and Head Start.  We now have a Women’s Intensive Outpatient Program and treatment services for family drug court programs.  One other key strategy is the Family Support and Connections program.  DHS funds this program for families connected to Self Sufficiency services.  In the last two collaborative funding processes the Commission and partners have chosen to pay for additional support for this program to reach other families identified by the schools as needing connection to support services. 

 

Summary

The information contained in this executive summary is but a mere snapshot of the strategies the Commission and its partners are implementing in Clatsop County. They are doing this in attempt to reach their Vision that “Every family in the county will have the health, educational and social support necessary to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children.”  Much work has gone into the process of getting us where we are today and the work will continue.  No matter how much we do, or how hard we try, the truth is that resources are limited, both financial and human. This is even more dramatic in a small rural county with little access to the rest of the state.  It is made all the more poignant by the current state of the economy. We need to continue to find ways to work together and tap into the resources that are available to make Clatsop County a healthier place to raise a family.