In the original Connect-Immunity project (funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention), COPES and our partners demonstrated statistically significant results in developing and embedding a substance abuse/HIV prevention system for the minority re-entry (primarily male) population in Louisville, Kentucky. Research from this original project based on a 5-year quasi-experimental design study with comparison groups will be published in the Criminal Justice Policy Review, the premier peer-reviewed journal of the criminal justice field in March, 2012.
The overwhelming success of this initial project motivated COPES and our partners to expand our growing and highly sophisticated system of services to the Black/African-American women ages 18 and older in the Louisville Metro community.
Black/African American females in the Louisville Metro Area/Jefferson County are experiencing higher HIV, Hepatitis, and STD infection rates than any other ethnicity. Unfortunately, this epidemic is not only affecting low-income, high-risk Black/African American females, but those of all socio-economic levels and backgrounds.
Connect-Immunity II Project staff, Project Advisory Group members (Center for Women and Families, PAL Coalition, Kentucky Department of Corrections, Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs, University of Louisville WINGS Clinic, Louisville Metro Health Department, Network Center for Community Change, and Volunteers of America) and Spalding University have agreed to implement needed services with a variety of partner agencies as a means of serving the broadest range of Black/African American females possible. A major focus of the project is to enhance substance abuse prevention services, and to integrate and increase access to HIV prevention services.
As with the original project, the Connect-Immunity II Project is funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Likewise, Creating Lasting Family Connections® (CLFC) will be the primary curriculum implemented in the Connect-Immunity II Project. CLFC was developed by COPES Executive Director, Ted N. Strader (also Project Director), and has received numerous national and international awards over the past 15 years. CLFC is listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP’s) registry of evidence-based programs, and is in use in all 50 states and several other countries. The original CLFC program was specifically adapted for substance abuse and HIV/Hepatitis populations prior to implementation of the original Connect-Immunity Project.
In the Connect-Immunity II Project, CLFC implementation will be combined with proposed policy change and other environmental strategies in partner organizations and the greater community that will enhance and improve access to prevention services for Black/African-American women.
The Connect-Immunity II Project evaluation will provide 5-years of critical information on the effectiveness of coordinated planning and integration of substance abuse and HIV and prevention programs and services to Black/African-American women. The evaluation will also measure outcomes for positive changes in substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, HIV testing rates, and knowledge and attitudes regarding substance abuse and HIV.
Project staff, in conjunction with Spalding University in Louisville, KY, anticipate serving at least 1 cohort per year of Bachelors of Social Work (BSW) and/or Masters of Social Work (MSW) students (particularly Black/African American female students) who in turn will form their own team to recruit a cohort(s) of the targeted population from the community. The BSW and MSW students will be asked to participate in the CLFC program with a focus on themselves as the targeted population so that they can gain a deeper, clearer understanding of how and what potential participants may experience when they participate in the CLFC program. Project staff will supervise the BSW and MSW students throughout their entire practicum placement. The Connect-Immunity II Project staff is confident the BSW and MSW students will not only gain skills for working with special, high-need populations such as other Black/African American females, but will also gain insight and clarity into their own personal and professional growth process.
Additionally, students will be given the opportunity, should they choose, to be part of grant writing, the researching/evaluating, and/or case managing of the targeted population. Students will learn agency partnership processes, how to conduct focus/discussion groups, and marketing and recruiting plans for specific targeted populations (Black/African American females for this project). The students are part of a larger potential sustainability design for members of the target population to go forth and recruit their own — similar to a “pay it forward” concept. Therefore, our Strategic Prevention Plan integrates the larger community of Louisville through the networks COPES and Spalding University have access to, potentially touching all neighborhoods and areas of the community.
Funding for this project was provided by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Grant: SP016448.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)
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